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Otavalo

June 3, 2012

Otavalo is world famous for an amazing Saturday market which is attended by all the indigenous people from the surrounding towns and villages.

We however were arriving in town on a Thursday so we had a couple of days to kill. On the way into town we stopped off at the Peguche Falls. These are notable for the fact that on midsummer over 10,000 local people come to shower in the falls at midnight. The falls are set in a small but pretty park which you walk through for about 15 minutes before arriving at the Cascades themselves.

After this we found somewhere to camp for our time in town. Otavalo has an actual campsite with hot showers, power and wifi which an unexpected luxury for us. Its about a 15 minute walk into town from here.  We had a walk about the town which was pretty quiet in the week despite a small touristy market in the centre. We wanted to do some hiking the next day so we booked a guided hike to climb Fuya Fuya in the Mojanda lakes area. Our guidebook warns that there have been robberies here so we decided not to take any chances.

Mojanda lakes are about a 30 minute drive from Otavalo In which you climb steadily to 3900m. The peak of Fuya Fuya is at 4260m and although this elevation gain doesn’t sound like much, at this height you need to stop to get your breath every few minutes.

On the way up we saw a pair of condors hovering over us – a rare sight in this part of Ecuador !

When we finally made it the top – with the last couple of hundred metres a real scramble – the clouds suddenly came pouring in and the views disappeared. However there was the odd gap in the clouds when we frantically took pictures.

On Saturday morning we were up early to catch the livestock market which winds down not to long after 8am. This was great and everything from guinea pigs to alpaca were available.  The bulk of the market seemed to be chickens, pigs and cows though.  There were also some horses for sale and even a tractor at the far end of the market.

Near the livestock market there were plenty of guys with sacks full of wriggling chickens and even pickups with puppies in the back.

 

There are two other main markets in the town. The first is just a standard food and goods market which is in the middle of town. This has a permanent as well as a weekly section and in the permanent section are a whole load of small food sellers.

The last market is the artisans market. This is present every day but at least triples in size on a Saturday. There are alpaca blankets and clothes, paintings, indigenous peoples clothes, painted bowls and all manner of other goods primarily aimed at tourists.

Sarah particularly enjoyed this part of the market and we left with quite a big pile of goods.

We spent about 6 hours in the markets altogether and were pretty shattered by the time that we made it back to the campground.

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