Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.

Robert Orben


After crossing Ecuador’s southern and central highlands, as well as visiting both the Amazonas Region and the Galápagos Islands, I continued to northern Ecuador. North of Quito, I visited both Mindo and Otavalo before continuing into the next country, Colombia.

Without staying in Quito, it consumes quite some time to arrive at the southern bus terminal Quitumbre, which is the largest terminal of Quito, and continue from one of the two northern terminals. Quito’s city layout is thin but very long, along a valley. Thus, the bus or taxi ride in between the terminals consumes at least half an hour. From the tiny terminal La Ofelia, there are very few direct buses to the center of Mindo. The bigger northern terminal Carcelén offers buses along the main road next to Mindo. There, you can jump off at the respective bus stop and take a taxi to the center of Mindo. This is too far to walk.



Mindo is definitely worth a visit. There are various hostels in this little town, all having the focus of being embedded in nature. In my hostel, we were located next to a little creek crossing, Mindo. The breakfast area including kitchen were right next to the creek. Directly facing the water, you could watch the many hummingbirds and also some butterflies and other animals around the many flowers.


Within Mindo and a little (few km) walk away from the center is a butterfly farm. I was super impressed by the amount of differently colored butterflies. I read about a butterfly house in the center of Mindo, however, much smaller than the “Mariposario”.


Another natural scene that Mindo is famous for is the Bosque Nublado, the cloud forest. Theoretically, there was a cable car to reach the “La Tarabita” cable car. However, when I walked all the way to reach its lower station, it was under maintenance. Together with a huge load of people camping on a nearby camper area, I shared an SUV-taxi instead. All jumping on the trunk, we were brought uphill to the Tarabita. Enjoying a great view while on the cable car, there are different walking tracks to different waterfalls.



In order to get from Mindo to Otavalo, I had to take a bus back to Quito and then up north to Otavalo. There are many and frequent buses across Ecuador. Nevertheless, you might have to change buses occasionally. As there are frequent connections, you usually don’t have long waiting times. However, the way from Mindo to Otavalo took half a day by bus. By car, it would have been only a few hours.



Once per week, there is a huge market in the center of Otavalo. A rather small market selling mainly ponchos is available every day on one of the central squares. However, if you really like to visit Otavalo because of its famous market, you need to come to the huge market covering many streets. I also realized that the traditional dresses differ from other areas of Ecuador. Somehow, in the region surrounding Otavalo. Here, males used to have quite long hair, which I haven’t seen in this extent across Ecuador before.


Laguna Cuicocha

Otavalo as a town doesn’t offer much more beyond the market. Thus, I wanted to visit one of the many lagunas nearby. In this case, I picked the Laguna Cuicocha because I have read about it in some travel guides. From the closest village to the top, you need to take a taxi (dirt road). This is why it’s convenient to go with more people and share the price. It is possible to hike around the laguna on the circular track. I wasn’t in the mood for the whole circle, I went approximately a third in and back out. The views are great. However, after already experiencing the Quilotoa Lake, this laguna was rather calm and peaceful.

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