Despite its modest size, Otavalo (pop. 90,000) hosts the biggest textiles markets in Ecuador and one of the most famous in South America. The market is a permanent fixture in the Plaza de Ponchos, but every Saturday the stalls spread out across the town, and thousands of locals and visitors, mix it up in a festival of buying, selling, and haggling.
The unique local indigenous group, the Otavaleños, dominate the town, and much of the local population is dedicated to making and selling textiles, handicrafts, jewelry, and ceramics. Their textiles and indigenous music are carried around the world.
Otavalo is one of the oldest towns in Imbabura Province and was a market town long before the Incas arrived, however, it is not just about shopping and there’s plenty to keep you occupied in the vicinity. The setting of the town is very attractive, nestled at 2,530 meters in the verdant Valle del Amanecer (Valley of the Sunrise) between two dormant volcanoes: Cotacachi to the northwest and Imbabura to the east. Both peaks offer climbing opportunities, and there is great hiking around several stunning lakes close to town.
Just an hour and a half north of Quito are the lush volcanic highlands. This land is rich in friendly and colorfully attired indigenous people, historic working haciendas, and towering volcanoes with verdant slopes. Our destination is the Otavalo Indian craft market. As we pass into the highlands, we’re treated to sweeping views of Imbabura and Cotacachi Volcanoes rising above San Pablo Lake.
Then it’s on to the Otavalo market, which dates back thousands of years and is famous throughout the Andes for its handicrafts, textiles and tapestries. Lunch will be served in a local hacienda of typical Andean ambience. After lunch we’ll visit the village of Peguche where native weavers demonstrate their craft, as they have for centuries. Once you have finished exploring the beauty of the area your Guide will take you back to your hotel.