Monday, December 30, 2013

Otavalo, Ecuador

The square in Otavalo was packed on Christmas Eve

Otavalo claims to have the biggest market in South America

They make masks and stuff old clothes and burn them for the New Year

Lago San Pablo

Lago San Pablo, I have never seen this new activity where you can get in a balloon and walk and jump on the water without getting wet

Another view from a different side of Lago San Pablo

Cuicocha volcanic Lagoon
Well I arrived in Otavalo on Christmas Eve and went to the plaza cause they had singing and events on the plaza.  Christmas day everyone was walking around.  Otavalo was about 3 hours ride from the north terminal in Quito (Carcelen).  I satyed at a nice hostel called El Geranio, they have really basic rooms from $6 a night and nicer ones for $8. They have a small kitchen and wifi and all the other travellers I met there were very nice.  It was a very social place and the staff was very nice. 

Otavalo is famous and claims to be the biggest market in South America and my version of the Lonely Planet guidebook says its one of the top 5 things to see in South America.  So here I am. There is a market everyday, but Saturday is the day all the vendors come into town to sell stuff and extends over many blocks.  The streets are packed.  It was fun to walk around and seem mostly artesenal items.  I walked around for a few hours before everything starts to look the same.

There is a short walk to some waterfalls close to town that I went to called peguche, it was nice to get out to see something natural after a month in Quito.  

The pictures above are of a volcanic lagoon that we walked around and took over 3 hours.  The most impressive was that we saw a tour group of older Germans doing the hike.  One of the girls in her 20s was having a hard time cause it was lots of up and down hills at altitude so seeing a big group of retired people doing it was quite inspiring as walking up some of the hills definitely took my breath away.  To get there you take a bus to the village Cotacachi then a truck to the park.  As we walked along the highway after the walk we found a bus that went back to Otavalo direct so we didnt have to take the truck.  Its free to enter the park.  I think its worth it to visit the lake but I dont think the hike around was worth it.  I think doing the short hike thats maybe a half hour where they have sun and mood dials and some exhibits and viewpoints of the lake. The views dont get any better as you go around the lake, but if you really like hiking its something to do and there were quite a few other groups doing it the day we went but the views are just as good doing the short interpretive trail. 
I also visited a lake that was very pretty but there were no hiking trails called san pablo.