A Travellerspoint blog

Otavalo

sunny

From the Equator we then go into Quito to get a connecting bus to Otavalo which is famous for its huge handicraft markets. There are stalls there all week but the BIG market is on a Saturday, there is also a livestock market first thing on the Saturday too. This was evident from the amount of ducks and chickens being carried around upside down by their feet all morning!

The market was fun and huge but a little overwhelming!!! Didn’t quite know where to start and didn’t know what a good price was for anything as you had to haggle for everything too. But some purchases were made at reasonable prices I think! There were some stalls for the traditional dress which out of the traditional dresses that we have seen on this trip they are the nicest and probably most flattering!
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There is a Condor Park 5 km from Otavalo which is well worth a visit too, even if the shows are in Spanish!! I managed to oick up a few things he was saying though. There was a group of school children out for a trip there and the girls wore really bright clothes and cute sandals. There are massive birds there including Owls, Condors, Hawks, Eagles and Perigrins and they are all rescued. A nice way to spand a few hours and it was in a lovely setting too, some great scenery around there. The man was saying that the Andean Condor is very endangered and there are only 40 of them left in the world so there is a breeding program going on to try and increase their numbers.
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Andean Condor
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Snowy Owl
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Barn Owl
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Mottled Owl
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Stygian Owl
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Spectacled Owl
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Pygymy Owl
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Variable Hawk
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Onto Colombia……..

Posted by downbhoy 17:12 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Equator!!

sunny

After Mindo we go to the Equator. A bit of a long drawn out journey but we made it! Basically we have to head 2 hours back towards Quito but the roads not particularly good.

Entrance into the Equator is $2 each and there are loads of shops and restaurants etc there. The line is apparently out by about 300m by someone but they haven’t moved it yet!! The monument is a big tower with a huge globe on the top. Lots of inconsiderate tourists everywhere getting in the way of our photos but we persevere and get some gone ones I think!!

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Posted by downbhoy 18:42 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Mindo

Mindo is our next stop taking 2 ¾ hours and costing $2.50. the hostel is really comfortable and Claudia is very hospitable. The hostel is quite jungley with banana trees and other tropical flowers everywhere. Her 7 dogs give it some character as well!! Estrella(retriever), Bingo and Bongo (Yorkies) Senorita (black lab) Misty (huskey) Ruby and Scampy ! Oh and a couple of ducks just chilling in the pond too! It cost $10 pp but had a really good breakfast included.
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We went to a Humming Bird Sanctuary and Butterfly gardens which were beautiful. The noise is spectacular that comes from the Humming Birds as they flit from sugar water to sugar water. We sat for ages just watching and listening to them. It was quite tricky to get a descent photo of them but here are the best ones of them!

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Chocol Arte is a tiny café in the village which does AMAZING Brownies and really good coffee and run by a lovely woman who had a 2 month old baby and was already back at work! But I think her Mum was helping her out.

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After that we went to the big chocolate and coffee place called El Quetzal which was run by 2 brothers Jose and Francisco. They have made their business into much more of a money making thing compared to Chocol Arte and they are very different. They seem to be expanding in a lot of directions. The tour was really good and very informative. Apparently cocoa can only be grown 20 degree either side of the equator and they get theirs from Puerto Quito about an hour down the road. 3000 lbs of cocoa is delivered every week and after a 3 tier fermentation system run they lose about 1200 lbs of liquid already (this is then later used as syrup). When the beans have been drying for a few days they then get whizzed up into cocoa powder which gets pressed into a cylinder of solid cocoa. This is really bitter because the cocoa butter gets squeezed out of it. Sugar is then added to make it taste yummy and churned for 3 days in a really warm room. After the tour we get a hot chocolate and brownie which are very tasty! Another branch they are looking into is brewing and their brewer Logan was really enthusiastic In talking beer with Darren we were there for ages!!!!!
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So then we had to make it back to the main road in the back of the truck to make our way to the Equator!
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Posted by downbhoy 18:26 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Quito

A 4 ½ hour bus got us to Quito for $4.50. it was dark and raining so hard when we got there. The huge mega bus terminal is miles south of the city so we got onto the Trolebus bus it was a Sunday and we ended up in a completely different part of the city because of the Sunday service. It was also getting really busy and we were struggling with our bags on public transport!! Anyway we got off the Trolebus at a huge shopping complex and hunted for ages in the pouring rain for a taxi, eventually we got hold of one and got going to our hostel Belmonte in the Old Town for $6 pp.

So carrying on from Salinas we saved our big Chocolate egg until we got there. And our little surprise was actually quite an ugly ornament that scared us a bit to be honest!!! But luckily this didnt detract from the yummy chocolate thank goodness!!
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The first day we went to the New Town. It is just full of hostels, cafes and bars, known to locals as GringoVille. The transport is good around the city, you can go anywhere for 25cents, however both Me and Rob got our bags tried but luckily we both felt it and the woman got such a death stare who was doing it….so you just have to keep your wits about you and use locks on bags where-ever possible as a deterent . It did put us on edge though and we didn’t get a good feeling about the place after that.

But we found a good place to have lunch at Uncle’s Ho’s $5 for starter and main and it was delicious, definitely recommend it, really fresh Vietnamese place in New Town. The 4 of us sat there for ages planning the next part of the trip. It was a really nice few hours just going over our options. Then we stocked up on books from Confederate book shop just a few blocks away.

Old Town felt much better to just be wandering around. The Plaza Grande is has a nice church and lots of quirky looking people just hanging out and catching up with friends.
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In the distance from the Plaza we could see this huge Basilica, we made our way over to it and it was massive and perched on a hill anyway.
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We paid $2 each to climb up to the top of the tower and it was well worth it, the views were just amazing of the city.

The first bit was a load of spiralling stairs to the first level, here you have great views of the inside of the Basilica and some really bright stain glass windows.
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The next level has a walkway the whole length of the Basilica to the other end of the building. When we got the other end there was a ladder up to outside with yet more stunning views of the city and the top of the Basilica. There was another ladder which only the boys climbed because it looked too scarey for me!!
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Posted by downbhoy 18:14 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Salinas

Chocolate and cheese

overcast

Banos to Ambato was $1.20, then Ambato to Guaranda was 80c, then the pick up truck to Salinas was $1. All in all it took about 5 hours but it was such a quiet place out of the way of most travellers that it was really worth it even if there was so much fog and it was really cold.
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Our hostel was $6 and it had a lovely open fire which Victor stoked up for us which was really appreciated!! Salinas is famous for chocolate and cheese so we went out and bought a load of different cheeses and a bit of ham and bread and wine and had a feast!!!! The chocolate was a little hollow egg that had a little surprise in it!! A hand made bracelet which was really sweet!
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The next day we went back to the same little shop and bought the bigger egg, we saved it till we got to Quito to see what the surprise was……….
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Posted by downbhoy 18:14 Comments (0)

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