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Published on : Thursday, August 11, 2016
Otavalo sits in a valley of singular beauty. Situated in the northern Andes, this bustling city of merchants, craftsmen and farmers thrives under the shadows of two mighty volcanoes and is surrounded by sacred waters such as lakes, waterfalls and lagoons.
Imbabura is the most prominent volcano in the area, after whom the whole region is named. (In Andean lore volcanoes are entities with human attributes, such as gender, and also human moods) At his feet spreads San Pablo Lake, suitable for water recreation. Many small villages are scattered around the lake, specializing in textile weaving and preserving their folklore and cultural traditions.
Otavalo, the largest town in the valley, still preserves the Kichwa identity; evident in the way its inhabitants still proudly don their traditional clothing on a daily basis. Men wear a cloth hat and a thick, dark blue woolen poncho, which is double-faced in the case of the wealthier citizens. Women wear white blouses with gaily-colored intricate embroidery and the “anaco”-a large piece of wool they wear as a skirt, affixed at the waist with a beautifully patterned woven band. Their outfit isn’t complete without the golden or red beaded necklaces and writsbands. The quality of the cloth and the intricacy of the embroidery, as well as the number of turns in the women’s necklaces are signs of social and economic status, with some ponchos and blouses costing up to several thousand dollars.
On Saturdays, the Otavalo Market is in full swing, with people coming from all around the area to sell and buy their produce. The market is daily, but on Saturdays there are many more there trading among each other. To the west, at the other side of the Pan American highway and the railroad tracks, looms the jagged silhouette of mother Cotacachi, the volcano that lends her name to the village spread at her feet.
Not far from this small town of leather artisans, lies Cuicocha Lagoon, formed in a collapsed volcanic crater. Boat tours around the lagoon and the small islands in the mist are available. For the more active, La Mirage offers a hike around the crater lake with an experienced guide along with a box lunch prepared by their gourmet kitchen.
Just outside Cotacachi, within walking distance, hidden among the roses, fuchsia and bouganvilla shrubs sits La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa where you can enjoy the gourmet cuisine and relax in the magnificent spa in the middle of this enchanted valley.
Wednesday (Post-Tour) at the end of the Train to the Clouds (Guayaquil-Quito):
15:00 Departure from Hacienda La Compania-Cayambe at the end of the train to the clouds tour. Transfer to Cotacachi-La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa. You will be greeted by a welcome La Mirage cocktail, then check into your deluxe suite. At seven P.M., enjoy a three course a la carte dinner in our main restaurant. During your meal your fireplace can be lit in advance for you so that you can return to the crackling and atmospheric fire.
Thursday free morning to enjoy La Mirage.
Breakfast at your leisure in the Colibri Garden restaurant, beginning at 0700.
Three course a la carte dinner & overnight La Mirage.
Breakfast in the Colibri Garden restaurant
RATE: US$ 1811,00 per person in double room.
The program includes transportation from Hacienda la Compania (after lunch) to Otavalo. Two nights at La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa. Deluxe suite accommodations, American breakfast, three course a la carte dinner, hotel taxes. Transportation Mirage-Quito.
Contact their North America office to inquire about the La Mirage extension and about the train trip from Guayaquil to Quito.
La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa is located in Cotacachi, Ecuador, a small Andean town, known primarily for its production of handmade leather products. La Mirage is found about two hours north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. Tucked beneath snow capped volcanoes and set amidst rolling hills, Rose Plantations, colorful indigenous markets and artisan villages, La Mirage offers a privileged scenic and cultural experience in the idyllic mountains.
The Spa at the La Mirage Garden Hotel is decorated in the Greco-Roman style of the original baths. It also offers a covered solar heated pool and whirlpool bath. Each signature treatment can be found nowhere else in the world and offers a variety of sensations, with Ecuadorian volcanic clay, chocolate, eucalyptus and lavender scented oils to name a few. There is even a jungle inspired treatment which uses infusions of medicinal plants and flowers from the Amazon, as well as a treatment administered by a local Shaman offering a spiritual cleansing and purification. The Ecuatorial energy bath harnesses the unique energies of the equatorial sun warmed rocks and crystals from the area.
Otavalo valley is one of the most fertile in the country, with all year round produce thanks to its warm climate. La Mirage uses local products and Andean traditional recipes and techniques in a refined cuisine that pays homage to the land. Also do not miss the hand mad fresh rose ice-cream with caramelized rose petals.
A member of the distinctive Conde Nast group of hotels, La Mirage is also a member of “ Luxurious Destinations Ecuador” (LDE) a premier hospitality organization that offers its clients a personalized, intimate and a distinguished experience with high quality Spa services, and gourmet cuisine. The goal of LDE is to provide peace of mind, tranquility, and a deep sense of well being.