Catamayo, Ecuador - Polarsteps
Catamayo, Ecuador: Population: about 30,000. Catamayo sits in a valley (elevation: 1235 meters) in the Andes Mountains. One of the tourist attractions nearby is the Chicaca Tunnel. It is a tunnel dug out of the mountain by the Incas. There is a gravel road to it, through it, and beyond. I did not make it out to the tunnel on this visit to Catamayo, but I will on my next. And, there will definitely be a next because I like this town.
The city dates back to the 16th century but it was in the 19th century when it really started to take off. The main industries are agriculture, the production of tiles and bricks, sugar, and tourism. Tourism has really taken off in recent years making it one of the city's most important economic activities.
So, my impressions: Catamayo is considered by some ex-pats as an undiscovered, best-kept secret, of Ecuador. There are few ex-pats living here. I met a man from Canada but his parents are both from Catamayo and they all live here in Catamayo. As for other ex-pats, he said there were very few and, it appears, they typically keep to themselves. The town is located in a beautiful valley, fairly high in the mountains, but still has a really nice climate that allows you to wear shorts and a t-shirt pretty much 24/7/365. There is a central plaza/park with a church on one side and businesses around the other sides. The rest of the town center is concentrated around that. I found a small ridge that runs through the city and walked along the top edge of it. There are several houses and a small church up there. A couple of houses sit right on top of the ridge and have views of the valley on both sides. What a great place that would be to live! At any rate, I like Catamayo and have put it at the top of my top-10 list.
My South America Journey