Hiking Lagunas de Mojanda

How to get to Mojanda

Mojanda is a complex of 2 inactive volcanoes and 3 crater lakes just about 40 minutes drive from Otavalo. There is no public transportation to the lakes, so unless you have a car or go with a tour, you must take a taxi from the town. We were told in the tourist info office, that the taxi should cost about 12 USD, so we were pleasantly surprised when the boy we stopped on the street told us, he would charge us only 10. This obviously was his first drive up there and he had no idea what was awaiting him!

The road was rough. It was too steep, even though it was paved, there were deep holes everywhere and the bottom of the car was hitting stones all the time. We could see his growing nervousness and smell his increasing sweat. We felt so sorry about him, that we decided to give him 12 dollars anyways. But he decided to shock us and when we finally got to the lake, he told us that he just got a message, that the journey should actually cost 20 dollars. I no longer felt sorry, I actually felt very angry at that moment (and even few days after, when I remembered it). There was no way we would pay so much money, so we started arguing with him, until he finally accepted our 12 bucks and left us alone at the lake.

Mojanda Lakes

So there we were, standing by the Caricocha (Big or Male lake) at about 3700 metres above sea level, surrounded by páramo grass. We had no map, but we could see a camping complex on the other side of the lake and there was a sign with a simple map beside the road. The lakes are connected by various paths, most of them are drivable by an offroad car, so they are pretty wide and comfortable to walk. After hiking in Cajas, this seemed like walking in a rose garden.

It did not take us long and we got to the second lake Huarmicocha (Female lake). From there, the path splitted up into 3 direction. We thought that the one we took would turn behind the mountain and go back to the direction of the camping site. And if not, we could still cross the ridge of the mountains on the beautiful grass. So the path of course turned to exactly opposite direction behind the mountain. And have you ever tried walking in the páramo grass? The grass looks so nice from far, but you actually cannot walk on it, because it grows in clusters and every time you step on the cluster you slump from about a height of your knee to the ground. Very uncomfortable. The only possibility is to look for rabbit paths, the drawback of which is, that they can lead nowhere. This way we managed to cross one ridge and were very happy to get back on the path near Huarmicocha lake.

It was getting late, so we finally decided to follow the path, which we believed would lead us to the campsite. And it did! With beautiful views on the way, we got to the third lake – Yanacocha (Black lake) and from there we just ran down to the campsite by the Big Lake.

Campsite

Well, the campsite… When we saw it from above, we were almost afraid to enter it. It looked so luxurious! In fact it was a complex of cabins, with a nice green, shortly cut grass and nice stone paths in between. When we came, a nice young guard approached us and showed us, where we can pitch our tent, make a bonfire, if we want, where the outdoor kitchen and barbecue is and where is the bathroom and shower. So we were protected from the wind, used the bathroom, did not have to carry our trash, got access to a running water… And the main thing – we did not have to pay a single cent!

What a nice and relaxed evening and night, before climbing Fuya-Fuya the next morning.