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Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

Naples, FL
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74 posts
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Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

I'd like to spend two nights at a luxury hacienda either in the Otavalo area or Cotopaxi, such as Hacienda Cusin or Hacienda San Agustin. Does anyone know which area would be more scenic and culturally interesting? I'm not that interested in the Otavalo market but would like to see the individual artisans shops....but the scenic beauty of Cotopaxi also sounds great. We're also visiting Cuenca for 2 nts, Quito for 2 nts, and 4 nt cruise in Galapagos...with an overnight in Guayaquil. Would appreciate anyone's recommendation since I'm trying to cut nights, if possible. Thank you.

St. Catharines...
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1. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

If you can only go to one of these places I would have to recommend Otavalo over Cotopaxi only because I found more to do there. A lot of people tend to focus on Otavalo as the place to go for the market (which it is and the market is great) but don't mention how beautiful the area is. I found it to be one of the most scenic areas of the country. If you are interested in visiting artists shops then I would definitely choose Otavalo.

The downside to going to Otavalo is that it is out of the way for your trip. If you decided on Cotopaxi it is on your way from Quito to Cuenca. Not sure what method of travel you are using but if you are on land this could impact your decision.

Either way I am sure you will enjoy both places.

Naples, FL
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74 posts
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2. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

Hi Agorophobic1:

Thanks for your helpful comments. I thought Cotopaxi might be more scenic but I wasn't sure how accessible it would be for moderate hiking....but the Hacienda San Agustin sounded so atmospheric.

I saw on earlier posts that you've also been to Cuenca...would you pick Cuenca over Cotopaxi also? I could substitute one for the other. We'd be flying from Cuenca to Quito so going to either Otavalo or Cotopaxi would be about the same distance.

Thanks again!

St. Catharines...
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3. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

barefootbeach.

I can't really say I preferred Cuenca to Cotopaxi but there is definitely more to do in Cuenca with it being a fairly big city (for Ecuador). Cuenca is a more relaxed city than Quito and is very nice to walk around in. Since you are flying from Quito to Cuenca I would then suggest visiting Otavalo instead of Cotopaxi. You'll get great scenery and be able to visit the shops.

I believe there are some Haciendas around Otavalo as well, however, we stayed at the Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge which I highly recommend.

San Augustin did sound great and we were originally booked to stay there but then they booked us at La Cienega because they didn't have room (we booked the day of so this was not their fault at all, that they went ahead and found us another room was much appreciated). La Cienega is also a really interesting place to stay should you decide on Cotopaxi and San Augustin is not available.

Pennsylvania
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4. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

I was there in October for ten days and stayed at La Cienega for 1 night before traveling to Patate, Chimborazo, Banos, back to Quito and then up to Otavalo. At Otavalo we stayed at La Casa del Sol, which was very, very nice! La Cienega was really beautiful & wonderful, very old and authentic! Great staff and good food at both places!

Scenery-wise, I liked the area around Cotopaxi more than Otavalo. Quilotoa loop and the crater (should you go down to the water, remember you will have to climb back out, which was kind of tough) is an incredible thing to see. Very interesting country and strange landscapes. Cotopaxi remained hidden from view for the majority of my trip, so it is not a guaranteed sighting...if that is the only reason you are going there. Latacunga which sits just below Cotopaxi is an interesting little town and was wiped out three times by past eruptions, but it still continues to thrive.

Otavalo has the market, which is the biggest attraction for tourists. Other than that, it is a quiet little town with not a whole lot going on. Cuicocha Crater lake sits outside of Otavalo and we did an all-day horseback ride out to it. Lots of fun!

I flew in alone for the first five days that I was in Ecuador and my friend arrived for the last five days. When I picked her up in Quito, we headed up to Otavalo, so she only saw Quito and Otavalo. After seeing my pictures, she agreed that she missed out on the more scenic parts of Ecuador.

I had originally wanted to make in down to Cuenca, but time wouldn't permit me to. I heard many good things about it. Maybe next trip...

Ecuador pictures > http://public.fotki.com/stormbird/

Naples, FL
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74 posts
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5. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

Hi Stormbird,

Thanks so much for your insightful comments. Loved looking at your photos...now I want to see Quilotoa Crater, possibly more than hiking up Cotopaxi (just to the refugio). I've decided to visit all of the above...Cotopaxi, Otovalo and Cuenca...provided I can fly to cuenca from guayaquil on the same day coming from Baltra, Galapagos. I've heard connections don't always work with flight delays.

Pennsylvania
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6. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

Hi barefootbeach;

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed them. I have my Ecuador trip report on that web site also. Click under 'my journals' and scroll down.

I absolutely loved Ecuador! I was really nervous about flying in alone. Quito is HUGE! It is a very beautiful city which goes on forever, blanketing the surrounding hills and immensely-long deep valley. Make sure you get a window seat on the left side of the plane for some awesome views of Cotopaxi when flying in and then vice-versa when flying out.

Once you are on your way to Cotopaxi area, you will be amazed at how long it actually takes you to get OUT of Quito. Cotopaxi isn't very far from Quito but it is about a 2 hour drive to get to La Cienega, which is right next to Latacunga, which sits right under Cotopaxi. I passed San Agustin on the way to Quilotoa. It is almost right next-door to La Cienega.

Once out of Quito, the countryside unravels in front of you. Big wide open spaces surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes. Tungurahura volcano was erupting when I was there and you could see it way off it the distance, along the Quilotoa loop. It is huge! But, still not as big as Chimborazo! Pretty amazing stuff to be seen in Ecuador! Ecuador reminded me alot of Montana, except instead of the snow-capped rockies, you had snow-capped cone-shaped volcanoes.

I think your best bet is fly into Quito and then work your way eventually down to Cuenca. Check on flying out of Cuenca and back into Quito, to save time backtracking. The in-country flights are easy to book & relatively cheap.

The people everywhere are extremely friendly and helpful! My best friend and I were amazed at how generous and kind everybody was in Ecuador. We still talk about it....

Best wishes!!

California
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7. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

I recently posted comments on Hacienda Augustin de Callo. It's titled rental car, hacienda, cotopaxi. However I don't see it yet.

Basically my husband and I really enjoyed the Hacienda Augustin de Callo. It is quiet and when you get there you think there is no one else around but the place is full, the rooms are huge, charming and the food and dining is elegant. Seems like an authentic English manor. Everyone is out doing day tours. They can arrange trips to Cotopaxi to hike to the refuge, tour the rose garden (recommended), go to the market in Latacunga (smaller) or Sasquisili (bigger). All is at a cost. They do not make that clear but most is extra. Still well worth it. Also horseback riding on Andean horses which are not old plugs. We did not do that, but most that did enjoyed it very much. So hopefully that helps. Also we booked with one days notice by the concierge at Swiss Hotel in Quito and we were not even staying there. We were staying at the Patio Andaluz in Old town. The hacienda picked us up at a cost of $50 each way. The drive is about 1 1/2 hours.

Good luck. Email if you have more questions.

Naples, FL
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74 posts
35 reviews
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8. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

Hi AdventureLady 007,

Thanks for writing back...do you think 2 nights at Hacienda San Augustin is enough to experience Cotopaxi (I"m thinking of the hike to the Refugio or should we add another night and do something else in the area? Neither of us are horseback riders, and we're thinking of cutting the two nights in

Cuenca, because we might miss the connecting flight from Guayaquil, so I'd have 2 nights to add, thinking of one more in Quito and one more at the Hacienda San Agustin....or, add two nights at Lake Titicaca in Peru. Thanks for your insights....I'll try to find your posting.

9. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

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California
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7 posts
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10. Re: Cotopaxi or Otavalo Hacienda stay?

I agree with the email after mine that Hacienda San Agustin is more of a retreat. We hired a driver to pick us up at the Hacienda and take us to the parking lot to hike to the refuge at Cotopaxi. This was about an hour drive and we also stopped for lunch at a lake. The Hacienda gave us a lunch. We never saw the top of the mountain because of clouds. The ride to the mountain is actually quite barren but interesting. The hike only takes about 45 minutes but you can hardly breath because of the altitude. About 14,000 at the parking lot and 15,000 at the refuge. We had just finished hiking the Inca Trail where we got to over 14,000 ft. and this was still not easy. However you can trudge up anything if you give yourself enough time. We stayed two nights and I think it would have been hard to do it in one. We did have down time though and I am not used to that. We also went on a tour of the Rose Garden right next door which I never knew could be so interesting. Then also to the market in Latacunga (Saturday?) which I liked. I think the market in Sasquisili (Thursday?) is more interesting but you have to plan on being there on the right day. Hope that helps. I wasn't sure I would like this place but really did.