Where We Be
|Cotacachi's central plaza is charming
|We hiked up a steep trail to a series of overlook points near a restaurant perched on high. With a little more time we could have taken a short
boat ride to visit the islands in the middle ($2.50 each), and with a lot more time we could have hiked all the way around the lake (5-6 hours).
We took a half hour bus ride from Otavalo to
Cotacachi just to the north. Cotacachi surprised
us a bit: we had expected a small town perhaps
the size of Vilcabamba but it actually felt closer
to Baños in size, or perhaps a smaller version
of Otavalo itself. That said, it has a laid-back feel
overall and is known as the leather-working
capital of Ecuador. Its main shopping street
actually smells of leather as you walk past the
stores. Cotacachi has an upscale feel to it, and
many expats have adopted it as home. Thus
quite a number of restaurants cater to western
tastes, and shops have a western boutique feel
to them. If you decide to go, be sure to visit
nearby Cuicocha Lake. This volcanic crater lake
is quite beautiful with its two humped islands
and surrounding peaks. We paid a taxi driver
$10 to take us there and back (it's 18 km away)
with a half hour stop in the middle to allow for a
quick hike up to a lookout point for the views.
|In the center of the lake are two humped islands. The original inhabitants of the area thought these islands
looked like "cuy" (guinea pigs), which is reflected in the name of the lake, which means “guinea pig lake.”
|You can tell straight off Cuicocha Lake is volcanic in origin from the crater walls that still encircle it
|One of the pleasures of our stay in Cotacachi was eating tasty American food at Serendipity. We adopted this little restaurant
and enjoyed breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. After six weeks of Ecuadorian food I guess we were ready for a taste of home.
|Cotacachi is known as the leather-working capital of Ecuador. Boutique shops abound and you can smell the
fine leather as you walk past the stores. We bought several small cosmetics bags as gifts at this lovely store.
|This is a typical street in Cotacachi. As you can see, the town has a quiet and laid-back feel. The only thing we felt it lacked was sufficient green space.
|Here is another powerful mural, this one located over a simple store entrance
|Adding to the "artisan" feel of Cotacachi are lovely murals like this one, which is prominently displayed on the outside of a building right on the main square
|Looking out a back window of La Cuadra Hostal ($30 per night), we could see this construction work going on. Cotacachi is thriving and growing fast.
|No wonder ex-pats love Cotacachi -- it has a year-round moderate climate, a small-town vibe, and is surrounded by beautiful mountains