A Travellerspoint blog

Birds and shopping!

Otavalo, Ecuador


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First stop in Ecuador – Otavalo…shopping! :) Otavalo market is the most famous crafts market in Ecuador and since we hadn’t bought many presents to this point it was the perfect place to begin our Ecuadorian experience.

Our room in the hostel opened out onto a roof terrace with great views of the town. The volcanoes appeared out of the mist in the early morning and we could hear cattle and other livestock passing by for the market before sunrise.

One of the volcanoes over Otavalo, from the hostel roof terrace

One of the volcanoes over Otavalo, from the hostel roof terrace

Otavalo is also known for its condor park – a bird sanctuary with all sorts of owls, eagles and other birds of prey. After walking around the enclosures we watched a display with some of the birds. It’s incredible how high they soar and yet they can see the handlers bring out food hundreds of metres away.

The grounded harpy eagle

The grounded harpy eagle

Coming in to land

Coming in to land

Precision landing

Precision landing

The cutest of the bunch, the American kestral

The cutest of the bunch, the American kestral

The giant golden eagle

The giant golden eagle

The huge wingspan

The huge wingspan

Popping up behind the wall

Popping up behind the wall

Look at those talons!

Look at those talons!

Sadly the condors themselves chose to hide away in their nest so we couldn’t really see them properly but I now know we’ll get a chance to see them in the wild in Peru :)

Posted by ew5827 17:13 Archived in Ecuador Tagged animals Comments (0)

Our favourite place in Colombia

San Andrés de Pisimbalá, Tierradentro


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It really doesn’t get much more tranquil than this. Set in rolling hills Tierradentro is a beautiful area attracting a few tourists to see the burial chambers and statues that have been discovered there. The only non-relaxing element to this place is the scary 3 hour drive along a precarious and bumpy riverside road from the nearest main town cramped in the back of a pick up truck. However, I think it's 100% worth it.

San Andrés de Pisimbalá, the small village where we were based is just that, small. There was a very close knit community feeling to the place with kids being taught on the grass next to our hostel, the church that centres the village and the way everybody seemed to greet everybody on their way by. Surprisingly for its rustic location, our hostel here was one of my favourites. The building was made of bamboo and the owners were some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet. Our room was huge and OK the hot water was a bit hit and miss at times but the food was absolutely delicious. It was the best food we’d had all trip to that point bar none. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back there right now!

The thatched church of San Andrés

The thatched church of San Andrés

Baby birds in the nest in the church gable end

Baby birds in the nest in the church gable end

We arrived too late to visit any of the burial chamber sites properly on the first day so instead we took a walk up to El Tablón to see the statues they’ve gathered there. As we left the village we picked up a third member to our party, a dog. He stayed with us the whole way running ahead and back, flopping into muddy water in a ditch to cool down when he got too hot. Once we got to the site I wondered if he’d run off but he ran around for a bit then waited until we'd finished looking around and were ready to carry on the walk. It was like we’d borrowed a dog for the afternoon! When we got back to the village he realised he couldn’t come up to our room with us and the hostel dogs were getting a bit territorial so he wandered up into the village and we never saw him again. We went looking for him the next day but he wasn’t there.

San Andrés from El Tablón

San Andrés from El Tablón

Statues protected from the rain at El Tablón

Statues protected from the rain at El Tablón

The dog that took us for a walk

The dog that took us for a walk

We took our visit slowly in keeping with the setting and the following day did no more than take a stroll down the hill to visit the two small museums. In one they have some artefacts from the burial chambers and an example of how a burial chamber would have once looked.

Pot from one of the burial chambers

Pot from one of the burial chambers

Another intact example

Another intact example

In the other museum is information about how the local people used to live with a model of a traditional kitchen, clothing etc. and also old agricultural devices.

Traditional Tierradentro dress, the rushes act as a raincoat

Traditional Tierradentro dress, the rushes act as a raincoat

Day three we finally visited the chambers themselves. The burial chambers varied in degree of preservation and detail considerably. Some were just a cave dug down into the ground with a few holes in which the remains had once been placed. Others had markings and paintings on the walls with columns holding up the ceiling. Few pots actually remain in the chambers and there’s nothing else down there but it was interesting all the same. We visited two sites - El Duende and Segovia - on a loop back to the village from our second visit to El Tablón. The wardens are very friendly and each radioed the one at the next site to let them know we were on our way.

Panorama from El Duende

Panorama from El Duende

Decorated walls of a burial chamber

Decorated walls of a burial chamber

On our way back to the village we crossed a bamboo bridge over the river. Bamboo is used for everything here. I’ve never seen so much bamboo! No doubt it’s because it’s growing everywhere too.

Bamboo forest

Bamboo forest

I hope one day we return to San Andrés and Tierradentro. I think there was a lot more to see in the area, at least a lot of hiking we could have done, and it was so peaceful there.

Posted by ew5827 12:36 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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