November 1 – 7, 2017
After six months of incredible experiences in Colombia, it was time for a heart wrenching goodbye and to move on to the next country.
We drove across the Rumichaca bridge from Ipiales, Colombia into Tulcan, Ecuador, our second country in South America but number 12 since we left in May 2015.
We only had a couple of weeks before flying home for the Holidays, in that short period of time we saw so much, it was a good introduction and we couldn’t wait to explore more.
Another traveler had told us to make a stop after the border to visit a cemetery, it was worth the small detour to see the spectacular topiary garden.
Tulcan Municipal Cemetery : Back in 1936, a gardener named Jose Franco began to meticulously sculpt the shrubbery around this municipal cemetery to create these visually stunning masterpieces, his five sons have kept the tradition going and the cemetery is now part of the country’s tourist attractions. The chalky soil is perfect for growing cypress trees. The garden includes over 100 bushes cut into shapes of angels, wildlife and ancient Incan symbols.
From Tulcan we drove to a very well known campground in the Orverlanding world, Finca Sommerwind Camping & Café, owned and operated by a German couple, Hans and Patricia. Located just before the town of Ibara in northern Ecuador on Lake Yahuarcocha about 120km south of the Colombian border. Beautiful setting with all the services for $12/night, the perfect place to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.
It was nice to see our Canadian friends Mark & Christine whom we met in Panama and our German friends Micha & Xenia with their pup Anuka. Brits bikers Steve & Janette and new Swiss friends Cornelia & JF in their cool Land Cruise/Azalaï camper.
Otavalo is a town in the Andean highlands at 8,345 feet above sea level (2,543 m), surrounded by volcanos and mostly known for it’s Indigenous craft Market in the central plaza de Ponchos, since we were going back to the US and Canada for the Holidays it was the perfect place to get a few Xmas gifts for the grandkids, nieces and nephews.
La Luna Mountain Lodge
After spending the morning at the market we headed for the mountains, not without getting lost and taking a two hour detour through small dirt roads!!! But we eventually made it to La Luna Mountain Lodge with beautiful scenery and fresh air! Located outside Otavalo on the road to the Mojanda Lakes and Fuya Fuya.
We parked next to a nice german family in this cool rig!
Parque Condor is a sanctuary for birds of prey owned by a non profit Dutch Foundation, their main objectives are the rescue of the birds, environmental education and rural development.
The beauty of the surroundings and being able to get a close view of Andean condors, eagles, owls, falcons and hawks made it a nice experience. It’s important to time your visit with the Flight demonstrations.
Ecuador is known for its natural beauty and fascinating culture. Otavalo, with it’s indigenous market and the Mojanda Lakes, a series of three lakes located at high elevation only 12km from town, is a perfect example. There is a nice trail around one the lakes and you can also hike to the near by summit of Fuya Fuya for an even better view.
We did the walk around the lake on an absolutely perfect day with blue skies, puffy clouds and fresh temperature.
Few Facts about Ecuador:
- Population: 16.62 million (2017) World Bank
- Area: 109,484 sq miles (283,561 km²)
- Capital: Quito
- Currency: US Dollar since 1999
- Time spent: 2 weeks (Nov. 1-14, 2017) and 3 months (January 17-April 13, 2018)
- Miles driven: 1,448
- Diesel price per gallon: $1.03 (2017)