My-Quito.com : Cotopaxi & Imbabura
Otavalo, Ibarra and Cotacachi
- More of a weekend away really, although
only a couple of hours from Quito by car. On route from Quito,
do stop at Cayambe for Bizcochos y Queso with coffee. For the
more adventurous, you can travel bewtween Quito and Otavalo via
the cloud forest, but you will need six hours to spare and a
four wheel drive!
- As well as the ever colourful
market at Otavalo (start very early on Saturday or go the night
before), there are timber carvings for sale at St Antonio de
Ibarra and excellent cheap but quality leather goods at Cotocachi.
I would particularly recommend viewing the work of Luis Potosi
in the central square of San Antonio, and also José Cotacachi
at Peguche on the outskirts of Otavalo (the latter is difficult
to find, so get directions first)
- Near Otavalo, view the stunning
patchwork fields of Imbabura, Susana's favourite mountain. At
the foot of the mountain lies the Lago San Pablo where you can
find a couple of cabaña hotels with very good restaurants
and boat hire.
- Beyond Otavalo by short taxi
journey there are the waterfalls of Peguche and some relaxing
walks in the surrounding woods. If you are interested in buying
hangings of above-average quality, you should ask for the way
to the workshop of José Cotacachi, located just behind
the church in the central square (it is not obvious -you will
need to ask).
- For more information on Otavalo,
Cotocachi and Ibarra try
- From Cotacachi, you can drive
on to Lago Cuicocha (3,068m above sea level). This lake and reserve
is set inside the crater of an old volcano, and a motorboat trip
round the lake gives an opportunity to see the local flora and
fauna in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.
- Whilst staying the the area,
if you can afford it, we would recommend eating, or indeed staying
at the Hosteria La Mirage,
a spa hotel near Cotacachi. We have also stayed at Mesòn
de las Flores, a beautiful courtyard hotel in the centre of Cotacachi
which provides excellent accomodation and food, or if you want
to stay in Otavalo, then the Hotel
Ali Shungu is very comfortable and located only a few blocks
from the market at Plaza de Ponchos. Click here for more hotels in the region, or for
hostels in Otavalo.
- Mindo & Ecolodges
- Chocó Cloud Forest Bioregion,
approximately 2 hours north west from Quito -Eco tourism is ever
more popular and you can have an interesting day or two in the
cloud forest staying at one of the ecolodges
around Mindo. The huge variety of fauna in the region include
armadillo, deer, sahino pig, cuy de monte, skunk, squirrel, agouti,
guanta, ocelot, lion, snakes, amphibians, butterflies and some
500 species of bird including sparrow hawk, hummingbirds, cock
of the rock and toucan. As well as providing home for the animals,
the regions beautiful rivers and waterfalls also provide a setting
for water sports including rafting
and kayaking. Follow this link for hostels
- Mitad del Mundo and Pululahua
- A short drive north from Quito
is Mitad del Mundo
(Middle of the World). This is the place where some French scientists
measured the Equator in the 18th Century. You can have your picture
taken with one foot on each hemisphere! There is a small anthropological
museum and planetarium here and a somewhat touristic (new) Andean
style village where you can buy souvenirs and see traditional
you will find the crater of Pululahua -if you are lucky enough
to have a cloud free day, arriving at the top is like looking
down into Arthur Conan Doyle's lost world -we have wanted to
make the steep descent but never managed to get around to it.
If you are going to, I suggest get a friend to drive you or arrive
by taxi (the parking space can be a bit remote) and arrange to
be picked up again at the bottom. For some good images have a
look at :
- Pululahua.com -website of Rock Festival that takes
place inside the crater of the Pululahua Volcano -some good images
and background information.
- Reckless Adventurer -website of Glenn Strouhal, which includes an
acount of a six month stay in Ecuador and some excellent images
of climbing trips to a number of volcanos.
- Santo Domingo de los Colorados
- En route west to the coast is
the small town of Santo Domingo. This forms a good place for
a stop to explore tropical forests, rivers, and waterfalls although
the town itself has limited facilities for the tourist. The temperature
here is warmer with extensive cultivation of banana, sugar cane,
and African palm. Roads from here lead off to the coast, including
Guayaquil, Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces. Follow this
link for more on the coastal provinces.
- Pasochoa National Park -administered by Fundacion
Natura the 1000 acre park is located some 20 miles south
east of Quito -a stunning walk in verdant forest set in the crater
of the extinct volcano -home to around 120 species of birds,
a number of mammals and plants including the Ecuadorean conifer
podocarpus, the Andean laurel, orchids, lichens and epiphytic
species. Hikes vary in difficulty at altitudes up to 3,200m.
Entry near the village of Amaguaña. Pasochoa has a souvenir
shop, a museum, and a campsite.
- Cotopaxi -often visible on Quito's
skyline, Cotopaxi is supposedly the world's highest active volcano.
For the less adventurous, you can drive up to the snowline, although
a climb to the summit requires a lot more organisation and stamina.
I find the National Park less interesting than others, although
there is no escaping the iconic nature of the classic volcano
- Papallacta and the Road
to El Oriente
- The road east to Tena and Misahualli
passes Papallacta, a small village at 3300m altitude and famed
for its hot springs, Termas de Papallacta.
At around 70km from Quito, this is a very popular destination
for a day trip, or a stopping off point point en route to El Oriente -the magnificent jungle
at the start of the Amazon basin.
- Photos of the Termas
de Papallacta -cabins and swimming baths around the thermal
hot springs at the entrance of the ecological reserve Cayambe-Coca
about 40 miles north east of Quito.
- Other links
-information about the region from the Ministry of Tourism.
afield to Tungurahua, Baños and Ambato
- Search this site with Google:
Possibly the best known Indian
Market in the world, the Saturday market at Otavalo, offers a
huge range of goods for sale -wall hangings, jewellery, Panama
hats, ponchos, hammocks, musical instruments, carvings are all
to be found.
The market opens very early
on Saturday morning, with goods on sale until the afternoon.
Be prepared to haggle for some bargains.