Ibarra is colonial town of 100,000 inhabitants and the capital of Imbabura province. It is 2.5 hours north of Quito on the Panamerican highway, and about 30 minutes by bus from Otavalo. It is half-way to the Ecuador / Colombia border at Tulcan.
Ibarra has preserved much of its colonial architecture in its city center and its plazas are clean and picturesque. Ibarra in an ideal destination in itself. It is also a good place for those going to Otavalo's markets to stay it, if you want to get away from the tourists yet still be a short bus ride from the market.
Ibarra has a modern bus station, although some buses that pass through the town don't go there. The bus from Quito leaves from Carcelen, costs $2.60 and takes 2.5 hours. To Tulcan costs $3 and takes 2.5 hours.
A taxi within the city costs 1$
Lago Yahuarcocha. A beautiful lake 3km from Ibarra. It is possible to take boat trips, go fishing or paragliding. Has hotels and restaurants specialising in fish dishes. Also has a racetrack which hosts local car and bike racing
Tren de la Libertad, . A 2 hour train ride on a type of bus converted to run on the former San Lorenzo railway line. The price is 7.5$ for the return trip and it leaves at 8am and gets back at 4pm. It is necessary to reserve in advance - it is best to do this at the railway station at least the day before. Please note that the line is closed till sept 2011
Valle del Chota. An area populated by African-Ecuatorian descendants. It is possible to visit typical villages and go fishing, rafting or kayaking.
Otavalo. This town is famous for its market. It is 30 mins away by bus. Buses leave every 10 minutes and cost 0,41$.
Paragliding. Fly Ecuador offers paragliding for 60$ and rafting for 40$. They are on Oviedo 3 blocks west of the tourist office.
Chifu Oriental. Good Chinese Restaurant on Calle Bolivar 2 blocks south of Gomez de la Torre.
Olor Cafe, on the main square. Great coffee, has a "CNN breakfast" for $4.50
Heladeria Rosalia Suarez. More than a hundred years old, you can watch the workers making the ice cream manually
Hotel Plaza Victora, Bolivar 12-101 y Rafael Larrea, ☎ (06) 2 600 887. A recently-opened comfortable hotel in the city centre.Single/double with bathroom and TV 15/25$..