I've been checking out many options for lodgings in Otavalo, and the rates are mostly great! But I'd like input from those who've been there. Considering anything in the area, but it must be safe for a woman traveling alone and secure enough to trust leaving valuables in the room while daytripping.
Thanks much for any input!
Otavalo is a very safe place to travel, even for women traveling alone. It has a small town feel, and as long as you stay somewhere near the city center the prices will be cheap and you should be able to keep yourself near other travelers that are walking around (in other words, you won't be alone on a street). Of course, if you stay there during the week, there will be fewer people than on the weekend, when the place is packed, but it really isn't a dangerous place, per se, even during the week. It is definately a more boring place during the week - something to keep in mind.
I have stayed at two places in Otavalo - both on the corner of Roca and Quiroga. I believe one was called Valle del Amanecer. It was clean, though the rooms were tiny. Definately safe, and well located. The other was diagonally across the intersection, and looked like a swiss chalet. It was also very inexpensive, and seemed very secure. All places in Otavalo seem cold to me at night, so bring clothes to sleep in or pile on the blankets!
Of course, always keep your bags that you leave in your room locked, and if you have anything very valuable, like a camera you won't be taking with you, ask to leave it at the front desk. I have always kept things in a locked bag, at cheap hotels all over Ecuador, and it has served me well. THe only time something was stolen out of our room was at the Hilton Colon in Quito, which we expected would be more secure because it was one of the most expensive hotels!
My advice would be to stay in any hotel recommended by your guidebook that is located in the center of town. Don't go hiking around alone, outside the city, even in the day. There have been robberies from what I've heard. If you are there on a weekend, however, you should have no problem hooking up with other backpackers doing what you are doing. Walking around the city in the day is fine, just avoid completely abandoned streets on the outskirts - common sense I likely don't need to write.
If you have any other questions about other cities, let me know.
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I stayed in Otavalo two weeks, while I attended a spanish-school. As a part of my stay, I lived with a local family. This means that I can´t give you any tips on what hotel to choose.
I felt very safe in Otavalo. It is a fairly little town, but in a way it´s touristy. Every saturday theres a big marked, where the indians sell craft. I recoment going to the marked on weekdays, it is more relaxing, and there will be plenty to buy anyway. The prices will be better I guess, because they have more time to deal with you.
I enjoyed the little village Peguche very much. It is located a couple of kilometers outside town. You can easyly walk there along an old farmtrail. (or take the bus, but then you only see the road)
On the walk there you pass small farmhuts, where the pigs are tied outside and the kids running around in dirty clothes. You also hear the sound of all the weavers, weaving the fabricks for the stuff they sell at the marked and even around the world.
At Peguche there is a waterfall, and eucalytus thats smells very nice.
Regarding the safety. I wouldn´t worry. Just stick to the basic rules for travelling in Latinamerika. Keep your values hidden, don´t walk the streets alone at night and keep alert.
On my homepage (http://www.metteks.dk/ecuador.htm) you´ll find photos from Ecuador, (and a lot of tekst in danish, sorry, haven´t gotten around the translation yet)
Have a very nice trip.
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