Market hawkers

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostal Chasqui Otavalo
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Rose Cabanas

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Otavalo is north of Quito so we decided to stop there on the way up to Columbia. The town's main draw is its market, which is supposedly the biggest and most impressive in South America.  The biggest of all being the Saturday market.  However because it also has a reputation for being horribly tourist focused, full of gringos and selling less 'real’ items (just what the tourists want) we decided to miss it!!  However because we actually arrived late on the Saturday it was impossible to get accommodation in town so we ended up 3 kms out of town up a hill at Rose Cabanas, which is English owned.  We weren’t too impressed to be honest. It was being managed by 2 gap year students who couldn’t speak a word of Spanish, in fact when the locks broke on our door we ended up talking with the Ecuadorian lady who works there ourselves! It didn’t have wifi – heaven forbid.  And worse, it didn’t have laundry!! On the plus side because our door broke we ended up staying in a private house for no extra charge which was designed for hobbits I think given the size! I look positively giant standing on the porch!

The next day we moved into town to a fantastic place called Chasqui.  The owner, Robert, was so friendly and helpful it was infectious! We walked around the market, although not really being market people that didn’t last that long.  Instead we took a walk out of town to the nearby Parque del Condor.  This is a sanctuary for some massive hunting birds and as well as the biggest of them all, the Condor, there were hawks and eagles aplenty.  Kevin’s favourite was the Golden Eagle, although I was a little worried because I definitely thought it was going to try and get me, and that beak could definitely cause some damage.  As with all places like this after the initial feeling of awe you start to feel a little sorry for the birds.  All the cages seemed just that bit too small for the bird it was holding.  Especially the huge Condor, with a wing span of 3 metres, didn’t have the right size area, particularly as there were 2 of them.  They had obviously worked out a way to get the longest distance in the air because later on when they started to get active they took it in turns to climb up to a particular point in one corner and the glide down to the other side.  They barely had their wings stretched before they had to stop though.  It’s a little disappointing that our first glimpse of this incredible bird was in a cage, having not come across them yet in the wild in the Andes, but they are impressive nonetheless.  We finished the day here with a bird show, so two falconers brought out a number of different birds to show off.  We didn’t understand anything about them, couldn’t even tell you their names, but it was nice to see them flying about and they ended with 2 massive grey hawks one of which I think tried to make a break for it!

Our other trip from Otavalo was to Lago Cuicocha, which is near to a small town, Cotacachi, just 30 minutes away.  This is another massive crater lake similar to Quilotoa, with 2 islands in the middle.  We were a little lazy and instead of doing the 4 hour rim walk around the whole lake barely managed a quarter.  But in our defence it was extremely hot and we had no water.  And once one has some nice pictures there’s no need to over exert oneself, is there?!?
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