Ecuador – Ottavalo Market and Cotopaxi Volcano

As usual is the case with these outings, “the early bird catches the worm”. So, were up early to take our bus to Ottavalo Market.

Ottavalo market is the largest indigenous market In South America. So if you’re after wooly hats, ponchos, new jumpers or some jewellery then this is the place to come. Though why we were going to a market bearing in mind we have the smallest rucksacks in Christendonm is another question.

So we set off on the long journey with our fellow homestay and language school friend, Tracy.

Our guide for the day was a jovial chap. Introducing himself and our driver to the group of travellers assembled in his bus, then getting us to introduce ourselves to everyone else. He came over as a cross between a guide and a game show host with a little bit of razzmatazz to get us going.

The day comprised of our arrival at around 9:30am. A tour around the market followed by lunch, then a trip to “secret” waterfall.

Having worked in a market for five years, seeing another one was never going to float my boat. However, I felt a warmth towards the indigenous Quechua people. They seemed a genuine and warm people from what I could see.

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Lunch was the usual fayre; rubberised meat accompanied by rice or potatoes and eaten with plastic knives and forks.

Soon afterwards we were heading to the “secret waterfall”. Though i couldn’t help but notice that there were dozens of tourists milling about. I remember saying to Tracy – “how can this be a secret with so many tourists milling about?” my bad because subsequently I learned that i misheard what our guide had said. He actually said “sacred”. D’oh…..

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The waterfall was nice. A fairly small scale affair and a chance to take some pictures. We headed off after about an hour. Our journey home was made a little more interesting by our driver getting stuck monetarily on a set of train tracks, though a little additional maneuvering – back an fourth saw us clear and on our way.

We eventually arrived in Quito by about 8pm ready for some well earned sleep before our trip to Cotopaxi Volcano.

Cotopaxi Volcano

Another early start for the three of us; Louise, Tracy and me. This time we were travelling to the enormous and beautiful Cotopaxi Volcano.

It probably took a couple of hours to reach our destination. We arrived via the usual steep hills that you become accustomed to. However, as you arrive in the national park the landscape really changes. I felt that the landscape in many ways resembled Iceland. Rugged and dramatic with little on the way of vegetation or trees.

We stopped off on our journey to the park to buy some provisions such as water and chocolate bars, but also some cocoa leaves for the altitude.

We arrived at the park at around 8:30am. The park itself is around 3,2000m high and we would be climbing to the glacier of the volcano which stands at 5,000m. The total hight of the volcano is 5,900m but to reach the last part you would require more serious climbing gear and experience.

If you were to ask someone to draw a volcano I would wager that most peoplevwould draw something that looks very close to what Cotopaxi looks like.

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So, with cocoa leaves stuffed into my cheeks we headed up to the glacier. We took it nice and slowly, stopping along the way to take in our breath and the view. All in all I think it took us 2,5hrs to reach the glacier, but relieved and excited to have reached our goal.

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A really enjoyable trek and I was glad to have made the trip. Now home and to bed for some well earned sleep!

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