A Travellerspoint blog

Ecuador

Otavalo

A market and a lagoon

sunny 22 °C
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The main attraction of Otavalo is the handicraft market which is on every day, but is biggest on Wednesday and Saturday. So when we arrived in Otavalo (me and an Australian I had met in a few places now so that we decided to travel up to Otavalo and into Colombia together), we went to see the market first. It was not as special as we had expected, but it was a nice market.

Much more impressive though was the lagoon in a volcano crater not far from town, Laguna Cuicocha. The water was an amazing blue and the rim of the crater was beautifully green.

Laguna Cuicocha

Laguna Cuicocha


Laguna Cuicocha

Laguna Cuicocha


Laguna Cuicocha and the volcano Cotacachi

Laguna Cuicocha and the volcano Cotacachi


view from the rim of the crater

view from the rim of the crater

Posted by sarahm_lux 11:47 Archived in Ecuador Tagged otavalo cuicocha Comments (0)

Quito

overcast 19 °C
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Quito is a bit of a dodgy place; you hear a lot of stories about people getting robbed and nobody goes out alone (and in most areas not even in a group) after dark. Nothing like that happened to me luckily, but I did get chased and almost bitten by a stray dog...

Being in a big city, it was time for some sightseeing again. I visited the old town with all its nice colonial buildings. I went to the Museo del Banco Central, where some incredible pottery from ancient Ecuadorian cultures is exhibited, amongst other interesting things. I also went to the Basilica, where you can climb up into the towers to have nice views over Quito. The last cultural place I visited was San Francisco, a beautiful church and convent in the old town.
Old town

Old town


Quito seen from the Basilica

Quito seen from the Basilica


San Francisco church

San Francisco church


Quito seen from the hostel's terrace

Quito seen from the hostel's terrace

There is a cable car in Quito which takes you onto one of the hills from where you can usually enjoy nice views of the city. Unfortunately when I went up there, it was very cloudy and then a proper storm started, so that we did not really get any good views at all :(

I also went to the Mitad del Mundo, the equator line running just North of Quito. In the museum you get some information on different cultures from Ecuador and displays on their way of living, and you get demonstrations of strange effects that you can see on the equator: water does not swirl when flowing down a drain, but falls straight down; apparently it is easier to balance an egg on a nail than elsewhere in the world; it is harder to walk straight with your eyes closed because of different forces pulling you to either side. I am not sure which of these were tricks and what was true, but one other demonstration we found quite impressive: on the equator line our guide could suddenly really easily open our fingers that we held pressed together or push down our arms while we were pushing them up.
Shrunken head

Shrunken head


On the equator line

On the equator line

When in Quito on the weeked, you cannot really get around going out. So of course, I did go out...every night. The first night, me and my dormmates won the pub quiz in the hostel and we ended up having a night full of crazy dancing in a club. The next night, it was time for the same club again with some other people. It did not get quite as crazy that night, but we had loads of fun too. On Saturday, a big group of people from the hostel (about 25 I think) all went out together. We actually got on a party bus to bring us to Mariscal, the area where all the bars and clubs are. After drinks in the Irish pub, we went to a club and danced the night away again. My last night in Quito was a Sunday night. This was much more quiet because there is a law in Ecuador that no alcohol can be served after 4pm. Of course there's always a way to get some drinks though...
After the pub quiz

After the pub quiz

Posted by sarahm_lux 19:11 Archived in Ecuador Tagged quito mitad_del_mundo Comments (0)

Latacunga

A lagoon and a volcano

overcast 19 °C
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On Monday, I came to Latacunga to visit the lagoon Quilotoa and the volcano Cotopaxi.

I started with the lagoon on Tuesday. Together with a Spanish guy from the hostel I took a bus and taxi there. We got stuck with the bus at a roadwork site for over an hour which was of course annoying, but eventually we made it there. We went up to the mirador from where we had great views over the beautiful lagoon. We then walked down into the crater till we reached the water. Here we enjoyed the views over the blue-green water while having lunch before hiking back up. A really nice day!
Quilotoa

Quilotoa

Quilotoa

Quilotoa

Yesterday, I took a tour to Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Unfortunately, the weather was really bad. It was very cloudy the whole day; on the way up it was even hailing and then snowing. We thus did not get any really good views of the volcano and the walk up to the refuge was pretty hard (altitude: 4810m). Because of this I decided to stay at the refuge, while others walked further up to the glacier. On top of the bad weather, we had a guide who was not very good. He did not introduce himself, he did not wait for people or check whether they are doing alright, his English was bad and his explanations were useless... So he was just someone to show us the way up.
Walking up Cotopaxi

Walking up Cotopaxi


At the refuge

At the refuge

On the walk down we saw some foxes that live on the mountain. This was probably the most exciting part of the day ;-)
Fox on Cotopaxi

Fox on Cotopaxi

When we were back in the car we did get some better views of the volcano though, so at least we got to see what it looked like.
Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi

Today I will travel on to Quito.

Posted by sarahm_lux 07:42 Archived in Ecuador Tagged cotopaxi quilotoa latacunga Comments (0)

The Ecuadorian Jungle

Butterflies, exotic fruits and canoe rides

semi-overcast 30 °C
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On Thursday, 1st September I made my way to Macas from where the jungle tour would start the next morning. We got brought by taxi to the spot in the jungle about 1 1/2 hours from Macas where we were going to spend the next 2 nights. We were going to stay with a Shuar family together with only 2 other tourists. After a walk down from the road to the river and a canoe ride across, we reached the family's house. It was a beautiful and quiet location next to the river, in the primary jungle. I immediately loved the place because it was crowded with butterflies!
Beautiful butterflies in the jungle

Beautiful butterflies in the jungle

Beautiful butterflies in the jungle

Beautiful butterflies in the jungle

Beautiful butterflies in the jungle

Beautiful butterflies in the jungle

Shortly afterwards however, we realised that the trip was not very well organised. The other 2 group members only arrived 3 hours after us and then the guide still did not show up. He eventually arrived at 3.30 pm and then first had to put up our tent before starting the first activity.
Part of the house

Part of the house


Our hut

Our hut

Finally we went on a walk through the jungle with the guide which was one of the family's sons. It was great to be walking through the jungle for the first time! The next 2 days 3 more walks and a canoe ride would follow. We also visited a waterfall under which we could go swimming and every day went bathing in the river just next to the house.
The Jungle

The Jungle


The Jungle

The Jungle


The Jungle

The Jungle


The Jungle

The Jungle


Waterfall

Waterfall


Flower lips

Flower lips

Every time we went into the jungle, we had our faces painted or got to wear some traditional headdress.
Painted faces

Painted faces


Jungle outfit ;-)

Jungle outfit ;-)

There are not many animals in this part of the jungle, but we saw a lot of butterflies, different types of ants (some huge!), birds, some spiders and frogs.
Poisonous spider on our guide's hand

Poisonous spider on our guide's hand

What we did see a lot of were medicinal plants which they explained to us and different types of fruits, some of which can only be found in the jungle. Of course we got to try these too. Our guide even felled a whole palm tree just to give us the fresh palm hearts to eat.
Banana tree

Banana tree


Fresh palm hearts

Fresh palm hearts

What we also got to try were larvae, live ones! I did try it (not the whole thing though, just a bite) and it was not even bad.
Eating a larva

Eating a larva

On our first day, the father also shot a deer which was then dragged down the hill to the house, cut into pieces and roasted on the fire during the whole night. The meat was delicious; we ate it for breakfast and lunch the next day.
Deer roasting on the fire

Deer roasting on the fire

We also went and fished a bit in the river, but those fish were given to the mother as a little snack.

We had different guides during the 2 days, but all of them were family members, 2 of the sons and the father. The meals we all had with the family as well, but unfortunately we did not get many traditional foods. The boys did however go fishing and came back with loads of fish which I then watched being prepared and cooked in big leaves. We got those served for breakfast on the last day.
Freshly caught fish

Freshly caught fish


Boy playing with the freshly caught fish

Boy playing with the freshly caught fish


Fish being cooked in leaves

Fish being cooked in leaves


Fish cooked in a leaf

Fish cooked in a leaf

The family was very nice and, although the organisation was bad and we ended up not even spending 2 full days exploring the jungle while paying for 3 days, I enjoyed being in the jungle a lot.

The journey back to Baños was a bit adventurous, but we eventually made it back fine.

Posted by sarahm_lux 19:28 Archived in Ecuador Tagged jungle Comments (0)

Baños

Great adventures and crazy nights

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Baños is a small town in the mountains with hot springs and loads of adventure sports to do around the area. I was really looking forward to getting there because I had heard so many good things about the place.

Some of the people I knew from Cuenca were in the same hostel as me, so we straight away met in the hostel bar, had some beers and talked about our plans for the next days in Baños. I decided to rent quad bikes with 2 of them to ride along the Ruta de las Cascadas, the route of the waterfalls, the next day. This was a great idea! We had a lot of fun on the quad bikes and the landscapes and waterfalls were beautiful!
Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

Waterfalls tour on quad bikes


Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

Waterfalls tour on quad bikes


Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

Waterfalls tour on quad bikes


Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

Waterfalls tour on quad bikes


Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

Waterfalls tour on quad bikes


Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

Waterfalls tour on quad bikes

That night, we got on a chiva, one of the typical open-sided buses that take people on different tours in Baños. The one at night goes up to a mountain from where you have nice views of the city. There is a bonfire, food and a comedian. The bus was more of a party bus than a sightseeing bus at this time of the day, with a group of Ecuadorians in the back singing along to all of the songs playing and us in the front drinking beers, singing along as good as we could too and laughing at the cheesiness of the whole activity. At the end of the tour, the chiva dropped us off at a bar where we could get a free shot. We decided to go in for a bit and ended up staying and dancing much longer than intended.
Chiva tour

Chiva tour

The next morning I went rafting together with one of the guys from the hostels. Finally I got to try this! I was pretty nervous beforehand, but it was great fun! I even managed not to fall out of the raft ;-) (at least not by myself; the guide pushed me in once, but that does not count...)
Ready for the rafting

Ready for the rafting

After the rafting I went and got some more information on jungle tours and eventually found one that sounded interesting and could be done in the next days. I met someone else to wanted to come along, so we booked the tour together for the next day.

At night we all met up in the hostel bar, where we were playing cards until the bar closed. We then moved to one of the rooms, which did not make the French girls next door very happy and eventually the security guard came and complained. So we decided to leave the hostel and go to the main plaza. Two of the others had prepared a surprise for us. They had bought a piñata which had been filled with things they had chosen and we were going to smash it on the plaza now. Luckily there was nobody around and we could go through with our plan. When the piñata fell to the ground and opened we could see what was in them: fake moustaches, plastic combs, lollipops, confetti and potatoes... How random! It ended up being a really crazy and fun night.
Crazy piñata night

Crazy piñata night


Crazy piñata night

Crazy piñata night

The next day, after a lazy morning in the hostel, it was time to go into the jungle!

When we came back from the jungle, I stayed another night in Baños. After a nice hot shower I went up to the bar and found some of the people I knew from before the tour and a lot of new people all sitting on a huge table playing drinking games. Of course I joined them and we ended up having another crazy night. After having gotten kicked out of 4 different locations, we ended the night on the main square again. This time without a piñata, but with someone's flip flops being thrown into the water and him getting in in his underwear to go get them...

Although I had a great time in Baños I decided it was time to move on and so I left the next afternoon.

Posted by sarahm_lux 20:29 Archived in Ecuador Tagged banos Comments (0)

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