After my return flight to Bogota and a quick whistlestop tour of South Western Colombia, I found myself in Ecuador, and the small northern (it's just north of the equator...) town of Otavalo.
The people of Otavalo all still wear their traditional dress, and a large market in the town was a good place to pick up my new hammock. On top of a hill nearby is the rehabilitation centre Parque Condor - my best (probably only?) chance to see a Condor, as well as a handful of other owls, hawks, buzzards and eagles.
My next stop in Ecuador was Quito, the capital. Sprawling through the surrounding mountains Quito is another imposing large city - not something I'm particularly fond of, although the old town isn't so bad with narrow streets and grand old architecture. Having intended to take the cable car or a taxi to the top of one of the many hills overlooking the city, my plans were foiled by a cloudy and miserable day, so instead I paid a visit to the reptile centre. I'm not sure whether it's my improving spanish or a vague knowledge of snakes that allowed me to understand a fair amount of the Boa demonstration...
One of the most popular tourist towns in Ecuador is the small town of Banos, 3 hrs south of Quito. Most tourists come here for the rafting, biking and canyoning but since I no longer have my boat and kit, I came to soak in the thermal baths. Set on the edge of the town, the baths are a nice (if rather busy) place to spend the early evening, and recover from spending too much time on buses.
I had intended to take a train ride for the next leg of my journey, supposedly a stunning ride along switchbacks amid towering volcanoes and mountains, unfortunately though I was told that it was closed - I guess the track has been damaged by the heavy rains. Instead I headed to Ecuadors third largest city - Cuenca, set in the southern highlands, and full of grand old colonial buildings. It has a distinctly small town feel in the centre, with narrow streets and a seemingly relaxed pace of life.
From Cuenca it should be a few more hours on a bus to Loja, before the long hop into Northern Peru.