After our outstanding holiday on the Galapagos Islands we have again homely arranged ourselves in MOMO and start the engines to explore the North of Ecuador.
Our first stop is Otavalo. Every Saturday one of the most important Indigena Markets in South America takes place here. We park already one night before the event on the large parking lot next to the market and are able to get up early before mass of tourists arrive with buses from Quito. First we visit the animal market a little bit outside of the main area and we are fascinated from the colorful ado. The women carry chicken and guinea pigs under their arms and Llamas, cows, pigs and much more change hands. Animal rights activists would definitely get a crisis looking at this. In between a lot of food stalls offer their products with sometimes undefined things and we decide to better surrender. After this we stroll thru the streets and let the atmosphere sink in. Interesting enough the market has kept his authenticity and the rich coloring of the Otavalenos in their traditional dress is a feast for the eyes.
The country North of Quito offers a number of highlights. In a subtropical valley close to Ibarra on an altitude of 2300m are the hot springs of Chachimbiro with water up to 55 degrees Celsius. For one day we enjoy the hot baths and the wonderful surrounding. On the next day we visit the nice Andean town Cotocachi which is well known for budget-priced leather goods and continue to the Crater Lagoon Cuichocha on 3070m. It is picturesque located and one of the most beautiful in Ecuador. Unfortunately it`s not allowed to camp in the park but we found a nice place close to the entrance with a great view into the valley.
We go on over an old bumpy and steep paved road up to 3700m to the Lagoon Mojanda and find a nice place direct on the water but it`s ice cold. Despite the cold temperature, our meter shows 4 degrees Celsius at night, some locals are here for fishing and stay overnight in a tent.
The next morning we finish our roundtrip thru the North and go on to Ibarra to the Finca Sommerwind approximately 100km before the border to Colombia. Since two years the German owners Patricia and Hans have established a wonderful camping area at the logoon Yahuarcocha and meanwhile the spot is well known and a meeting place for travelers from all over the world. A great location to rest for a few days or longer. We have some problems with our cooler and need a spare part from Germany. Until we have the part finally in hand 4 weeks are gone and we didn`t realize how time flies. Usually there is a barbeque on Saturday and get-together with other travelers. On Sunday the restaurant is open. Patricia cooks some delicious dishes for lunch and outstanding cakes for coffee. On our last evening we arrange a pizza party with salads and wine.
But now it`s time to move on and start MOMOs engine again. In a few days our Visa expires. To stay longer than legally allowed is not a good idea and results in a daily penalty of $350. With a heavy heart we say Good Bye to the Finca Sommerwind and go on direction North. On our way to the border are still two worthwhile destinations. The first stop we make at the Gruta de La Paz. In a limestone cave with stalagmites is a small chapel with a sculpture of the Virgin Mary. In the frontier town Tulcan we visit the cemetery with it`s nice botanical garden where trees and bushes are tailored to geometrical figures.
And all of a sudden we stand in front of the Colombian border. All travellers coming from the North were excited from the country and the friendliness of the people and we are curious what we will expect there. But this is then part of the next blog. Until then. Hasta Luego.