This last week I had to take someone to Otavalo, so I took advantage of the trip and drove to a little secluded and out-of-the-way town called Oyacachi. I had never been there before, but I heard that they have some nice hot springs for relaxation and that the place is very small and special. The town is tucked behind the Cayambe mountain on the eastern slope of the Andes and it takes about two hours drive from the town of Cayambe. The day was very clear and the lack of clouds in the sky gave us a perfect view from the paramo of the colossal Cayambe mountain as we drove towards our destination.
To get there we had to pass through the Cayambe-Coca Reserve checkpoint which is manned from 6:am to 6:00 pm and at this point we found that there is another road that goes from this checkpoint to the other side of the Cayambe-Coca Reserve in Papallacta, another small town with hot springs. To our dismay we could not return to Quito via this road since we did not have a permit from the ministry of ambient…
The town of Oyacachi was soon visible at the distance and it looked very small.
Upon our arrival we headed to the hot springs and spent a couple of hours relaxing by ourselves in very salty-and-hot mineral waters. This was very relaxing! We found some very simple and nice cabañas outside of town and spent the night by a fireplace talking about birds to some local people. The morning arrived and I was woken up by a Rufous Antpitta that called at my window. This was followed by a couple of trucks and motorcycles that drove past the cabañas from the town to their small farms to milk the cows. We got up and followed the dirt road downhill heading towards the east . The road went past some ruins that had been abandoned by the town people some 100 years ago and it followed the river gorge for 10 km on its way down to the Amazon. We were quickly surprised by the Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan that flew across the road and landed 50 meters in front of us while it waited for his partner to catch up. I managed to get a couple of nice shots and soon he was off to the mountains to disappear in the moss.
This great bird is classified as Near Threaten by the IUCN Red List due to population decrease owing from habitat loss. And that is what we saw, this small town with only 500 people survive from farming and cutting wood; they do make some amazing wood craft.
Carved tree at Oyacachi
It was very sad to see such rich vegetation being destroyed by the action of humans merely surviving. Oh well, I guess we don’t have much to worry about since today is the end of the world on May 21st of 2011.