Day 9 – March 20: Otavalo and Chaski Antawa Train

Ibarra Travel Blog

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Train in Ibarra



Since we had an extra day in Quito, we decided at the last minute to book the Chaski Antawa train.  It seemed like a good idea, but I didn’t realize that it was a 3 hour drive one-way to get to the train!  A 3-hour drive, a 2-hour train ride, and another 3-hour drive back - my poor son was going crazy....


The train itself was fine, but noisy and dusty (we were provided with a thin neck gaiter to cover our faces).  The weather was cloudy, so we did not get the great views that I think most people would get.

Our guide on the train was Juan Carlos Rivera, our same guide from our Quito city tour on the first day.  I still recommend him as a great guide.


The train goes from Ibarra - about 30 to 60 minutes past Otavalo - to Salinas.  Salinas is a poor town that is being resurrected because of this influx of tourism.  A creative band made up of youngsters entertained us at the train station, and then we walked 3 blocks to a restaurant for lunch, which also had music and some dancing.


On the way back, we stopped in Otavalo.  This was Saturday, the biggest shopping day in Otavalo, but it was mid-afternoon by the time we got there, so it wasn’t crowded at all.  The main square and streets leading out from the main square were chocker block with colorful stalls of people selling jewelry, clothing, hammocks, knitted sweaters/gloves/hats, paintings, chess sets, and all sorts of knickknacks.  There were also places selling meats, grains, and fruits.


Since this was Saturday, there were also separate markets nearby selling animals (alive and dead) and produce.


We left at 8:00am and got back to the hotel shortly after 6:00pm.  It was just too long of day of driving for us….


We were able to hire the cousin of a friend of mine to babysit tonight, so she came to our hotel, and my husband and I got an adult evening out!  Well worth the $10/hour.


The people at the front desk of our hotel made a reservation for us at a restaurant called Zazu, which was rated very highly on TripAdvisor.  Everyone seems to know about this restaurant except for taxi drivers.  It took 3 taxis before we found one that would even take us.  The doorman explained to the driver where the restaurant was, but he still got lost.  Anyway, we did get there - and back.


Either the party buses didn’t come by this night, or I am getting used to all the noise (more likely)….



I had long pants and a long sleeve shirt on all day.  In the morning and for part of the train ride, I had a jacket on.  My son had zip-off pants, and he did go to shorts about mid-day.


Lunch in Salinas with the train ride was potato and quinoa soup followed by beef, chicken, or fish with fries and vegetables, and dessert of papaya filled with moraine.  Very mediocre.

Dinner at Zazu was fantastic!  We started with a blackberry martini (tasty but sweet) and a Pisco sour followed by a bottle of Chilean wine.
Local band that greets you in Salinas
  Following advice from some local people, we just ordered appetizers.  We got the fried calamari, crab cakes, and Ecuadorian style fish ceviche, which was plenty of food.  For dessert, I got the Baileys brownie, which was okay, but not my cup of tea.  My husband ordered the Chilean Gewurztraminer, which he loved.  The entire dinner including drinks came to $95, which I thought was incredibly cheap for a fancy dinner.

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Train in Ibarra
Train in Ibarra
Rest stop half way on train ride
Rest stop half way on train ride
Local band that greets you in Sali…
Local band that greets you in Sal…
Juan Carlos and train conductors
Juan Carlos and train conductors
House on drive up to Otavalo
House on drive up to Otavalo
photo by: Paulovic