Published: September 6th 2012September 4th 2012
We woke up bright and early for our trip to Otavalo, which is a town with a market place run by the indigenous people of Ecuador,located a couple hours out of Quito. Saturday is supposed to be the best day to visit the market but we decided today would have to do. We went with a group from our hostel, which consisted of three Canadians, a Belgian, and a local tour guide.
The traffic is just insane in Quito. It took us an hour or so to get out of the outskirts of Quito. Once we left the city, we were immersed with the gorgeous scenery and the Andes mountains. As we passed by miles of construction, our tour guide told us the new Quito airport was being built in the middle of the huge ravine that was below us... imagine that landing!
We stopped at many viewpoints along the way. The Andes are spectacular and the region reminded us of Eastern Washington (if Eastern, WA had enormous mountains) with its dry and dusty land and ice blue lagoons. The landscape transformed into farmland after awhile, with its great valleys surrounded by stunning mountains. We also saw many greenhouses
along the way, containing thousands of Roses. Apparently only at the Ecuator, do roses grow completely straight. Who knew that Ecuador was the rose capital of the world?
As we drove closer to Otavalo, we started to spot all the indigenous homes of the Peguche, Agato, and Llman people. We learned that they are all quite resourceful, using the land around them to build their homes,the reeds from the lake to patch roofs, and of course the Acapulco to make their warm clothes.
We stopped for a quick lunch and then went to Parque Condor where we saw an Andean Condor and a few other local birds. Because of the strong wind, the Condor wasn't allowed to be in the bird show but the other birds were very impressive!
We finally made it to the Otavalo market and shopped around for an hour. The people were quite friendly and gave us some great deals. It was impressive how everything was made by hand, from the blankets and scarves to the hats and chess sets.
Our next stop was at an abandoned railway in Peguche. We hiked 2km from there to the waterfalls, Cascadas de Peguche, which
are considered sacred to the locals. It was a beautiful forested hike with a spectacular ending.
We made a quick stop next in the quaint town of Cotacachi, known for its beautiful leather products and amazing views of Volcan Catacachi. The town was very easy-going and tranquil.
Our last stop was at Laguna de San Pablo, Ecuador's largest lake. It was a gorgeous lake that had great views of Volcan Imbabura. We were told each year, there is an international swimming competition at the lake, where competitors swim 3800 cold meters to the other side.. brrr!
After our very busy day, we decided go to bed early and soak in all the beauty that we had seen that day. Ecuador is a truly spectacular country.
There are more photos below