Otavalo is a city nestled between three volcanoes in the Andes of Ecuador. You can clearly see the volcanoes from the center of town and the view stopped me in my tracks more than once as we explored the city. We rented an Airbnb apartment for three weeks in downtown Otavalo and had a view of two of the volcanoes, Imbaburu and Mojanda from our fourth floor walk-up.
We love renting with AirBnB because it helps us meet and get to know local people in the places we visit. Otavalo was no different. This time we made a connection with our neighbors, Volker and Tania. They own a Spanish school in Otavalo, Horizonte Marivilloso. They teach and play host to tourists wanting to learn Spanish from all over the world. We didn’t take a class (although we really need to) but we did get to see some amazing places in and around Otavalo because of them. They recommended we see some touristy places and off the beaten track places.
We had the pleasure to experience two hikes to two different waterfalls on their recommendation. Each one was at the base of volcanoes we could see from our windows. One is Cascada Peguche located at the base of the Imbaburu volcano. It is very popular with both tourists and locals. The other one, Cascada Taxopamba seemed more like a well kept secret on the way to the summit of the Mojanda volcano.
We chose to check out Casacada Taxopamba first.
The day was perfect for a hike, clear and sunny. Volker gave us directions to the tucked away trail-head. I don’t have the best sense of direction but we relayed them to our cab driver and he had no problem getting us there. There is a hotel, Casa Mojanda very close to the trail. We asked the cabbie to drop us at the hotel and knew we could call a cab to pick us up from there after our hike.
The hike was fairly easy, a little skinny in some places and steep in others but none of us had much trouble navigating it. The hardest part was keeping our eyes on the trail to avoid tree roots because the views were so breathtaking.
As we hiked, we questioned if we were going in the right direction a few times. The trail was lined with trees and thick foliage at some points so we couldn’t see the waterfall but after hiking for about 30 minutes we could sure hear it. We followed the sound and were delighted to find, like the trail, we were the only ones visiting Cascada Taxopamba. I wish we had brought a picnic! The waterfall was pristine. We spent a couple of hours climbing huge rocks around the lagoon, looking and listening to the rush of the waterfall.
The second waterfall, Cascada de Peguche is tucked in the foothills of the Imbaburu volcano.
The waterfall is an indigenous ceremonial site. Indigenous people perform Purification rituals here before the Sun and Harvest Celebration (Inti Raymi) June 21st. This waterfall is located in a 40 acre protected forest very close to Otavalo. There is a small entrance fee to access the trails which are frequented by tourists and locals alike. We had the pleasure of visiting Cascada de Peguche with Volker, Tania and their young sons.
Cascada Peguche is close to Otavalo so we walked back to the apartment after enjoying the park and the trail was no where near as busy as the waterfall. We enjoyed a easy hike back to the apartment. Makai had made fast friends with 7 year old Joel. They ran and played all the way home.
We were in Otavalo for 3 weeks and again, thanks to an Airbnb rental we made local friends and got to experience Otavalo from a local perspective. Horizonte Marvillioso Spanish School offers Spanish lessons at the school downtown in Otavalo and gives students the opportunity to stay with local families to further learning.