Coming face to face with a condor for the first time is an unforgettable experience. It moved like a prehistoric raptor – nothing but muscle and rustling feathers. The bird’s wingspan was easily wider than I am tall, and its beak was the size of my fist.
At Otavalo’s Parque Condor, these huge birds aren’t the only stars of the show. The park hosts a vast collection of birds ranging from the tiny pygmy owl to fully grown bald eagles.
Many of the birds are indigenous to Ecuador, like the sacred harpie eagle. All the birds have either been donated to the park by private owners, rehabilitated from injury in the wild or rescued from traffickers.
Visiting the Parque Condor is easy enough from the nearby Ecuadorian city of Otavalo. A cab ride from anywhere in town shouldn’t cost more than US$5 each way, though there is no public transport. Be sure to arrive early for the bird show at 11.30, during which some of the park’s most impressive residents come out to play. If you miss out, there’s a second show at 3.30 pm.