Otavalo is a small town located about two hours north of Quito. It was the final destination of our 2-week trip to Ecuador. The place is most known for its indigenous crafts market, and the Otavalo people are considered the most economically successful indigenous group of Latin America.
We arrived there on a Friday afternoon and headed to Parque Condor, a foundation which rehabilitates birds of prey. We were excited to see these magnificent birds up close. The place is located on a steep hillside just outside of town.
We timed our visit to be sure to see the flight demonstration. Here are a few of the birds we saw during the demonstration.
After the demonstration, we stopped by the andean condor area. This was the bird we were most excited to see up close.
As we stood there watching the andean condor, it flew straight toward us, then ran away to the back of the cage and flew back toward us again…and again…and again. It must have done this 20 times in a row while we just stood there in awe. Here’s a short video clip:
Later that afternoon, we visited the food market.
That night, we enjoyed dinner at Mi Otavalito. The food was delicious and accompanied by traditional live music.
Although it was only Friday, Carnival celebrating had begun, and we encountered “carnival foam” and water balloons attacks on every block.
The next morning, we experienced the Otavalo crafts market. It’s a tradition which stretches back to pre-Incan times. Although the market takes place every day in the town’s main plaza, on Saturdays, the market takes over the town, stretching out over blocks and blocks of city streets. When we awoke on Saturday morning, people were setting up booths on the street in front of our hotel. The market stretched on and on in every direction we looked. It seemed like a lot of work for everyone to haul in their goods, set up their booth, and put everything out on display, just to tear it all down at the end of the day. I wondered, of all the product each one took so much time to put out on display, how much did they actually sell? It didn’t seem like there were enough people buying things to support all the product that was on display. But, I suppose enough people must buy or they wouldn’t be here.
I bought a scarf, a bracelet, two pairs of earrings, and a sweater. Which is a MAJOR shopping spree for me, as I usually never buy souvenirs (I just take a lot of pictures). Although it’s completely acceptable to negotiate when purchasing, the prices were low enough that I didn’t bother. I really wasn’t too interested in buying the sweater I got, but the lady was such a good and persistent salesperson, I finally caved. And she kept lower the price every time I tried to walk away. Pics of my purchases…
After spending a couple of hours perusing the market, we headed to Cuicocha Lake to get one last hike in before leaving Ecuador. We paid $10 each way to get there by taxi (it’s about 30 minutes away from Otavalo). The name “Cuicocha” comes from the Kichwa indigenous language and means “Guinea Pig”, so called because the large island in the middle of the lake resembles a guinea pig. Starting from the visitor center, the hike is an 8.5 mile loop that takes you around rim of the crater. The hike starts with a steep climb up to the rim, and then winds up and down around the lake.
That wrapped up our adventures in Ecuador…unless, of course, you count the 8+ hours we spent at the Quito airport that night, waiting for our flight home which was delayed. We finally departed at around 4AM and made it back to Denver just in time to cheer on the Broncos in the Superbowl! What a memorable two weeks!
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli