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Revision as of 18:00, 21 November 2008 by Tapirlodge (talk | contribs) (Eat)
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Otavalo with the Imbabura Volcano in the background

Otavalo is a small town in Ecuador.

Get in

If you come from Tulcan busses will probably drop you off at the Pan American highway, it's only a 10 minute walk to the center from there.

The Otavalo/Las Lagos bus company will drop you off at the bus terminal in Otavalo.

There is a small bus terminal northeast in town along calle Atahualpa & Jacinto Collahuazo and busses leave for Quito (2,5 hours) every 10 minutes.

Get around

Taxies will take you anywhere within town for $ 1,00.


Mercado Artesanal
  • Every Saturday there is a Mercado Artesanal in Plaza de Poncho on call Sucre y Salinas where indigenous people come from far and wide to sell their handicrafts to tourists. Although Saturday is the main market day, purchasing handicrafts on any other day is possible and a far less heptic experience. If you want something more authentic, try the food market Mercado 24 de Mayo, it's the best place to buy pigheads or intestinals. There is also an animal market Mercado de Animales northwest of town across the panamaricana and a cockfight Saturdays.
Plaza in Otavalo


  • Do not only come for the Saturday Market, there are too many things to see and do around Otavalo for just 1 day. See below at "Get out".


You could have a better chance to do your shopping, if you arrive here early or leave late. But keep in mind that you may regret that you have bargained too hard with those indigenous people who work very hard to make their living.




  • Hotel Riviera Sucre, García Moreno 3-80, 06-980-241 ([email protected]). Has nice spacious room. A singlebed cost $7.
  • Hacienda Cusin, San Pablo del Lago, Imbabura, 6-291-8013. Restored 17th century estate 20 minutes south of Otavalo by taxi ($5). Excellent service, beautiful rooms and gardens, great food. World known Hacienda Cusin offers horseback riding, massages, Spanish lessons, and lots more. Rooms start at $75. Wonderful!
  • [Hostal Doña Esther], Juan Montalvo 4-44 and Bolívar (near the Central Park (Parque Bolivar)), 06-2920739, [1]. checkin: 13.00; checkout: 12.00. Located near the Central Park and the Saturday market, Doña Esther is a colonial style, small and cosy hotel. All rooms are situated around a green inner court yard. The restaurant serves excellent food in Mediterranean style with a personal touch, using the local ingredients. average $ 32.

Get out

Around Otavalo Most people just visit Otavalo for the day on Saturday when the market is at its biggest. For those wanting to stay longer, or have had their fix of market and are looking for something to take up a few hours, there are number of options.

  • Las Cascadas

To the North of Otavalo (15 to 30min walk) is a small but pretty Waterfall. Walk North along Bolivar, after the hospital turn East and walk until you cross the old railway line. Follow the next cross road North. Eventually you go over a small creek. Follow the road round to the right up the hill. You will then see a sign to the Las Cascadas. Follow this through the gum (eucalyptus) trees, and you are there.

  • Volcan Imbabura (~4610m asl) or Cotacachi (~4995m asl)

You can hike to the top of the two surrounding Volcanos. Imbabura can be done in a day, with a car taking you to about 3,500m asl. Cotacahi is probably best done over night. Both are normally surrounded in cloud, with Cotacachi often getting snowfall as a result of its extra altitude. A number of the small tour agencies in the town operate tours, and are quite affordable.

  • El Lechero

There is a special (to the local indigenous population) tree on the ridge separating Otavalo and San Pablo, which has amazing views to San Pablo, the Lake and Volcan Imbabura. To get there, walk east along Garcia Moreno and follow over the hill. Once up the top, you will have to walk a little North before sighting the tree in order to aim for it. Best way, is just to aim for the highest point.

  • Parque Cóndor

Near the lechero, you'll find the Condor Park, a rescue center for Raptor birds, including of course the Andean Condor. Flight shows with several birds twice a day. You also have a magnificent view on the surroundings of Otavalo. closed on Mondays.

  • Lagunas de Mojanda

A series of lakes (3700 m) 17km (uphill) south of Otavalo, in an extinct volcano, which are very beautiful. The best way to get there is to take a taxi (~US$14 return - with four hours there). The locals do not recommend going on a weekday as this may be dangerous (robbed of all possessions including clothes). Weekends are considered safe given the greater numbers of visitors (which aren't many).

  • Cuicocha Lake

West of Otavalo at the base of Volcan Cotacachi and near Cotacachi Village. It is an eco reserve, with a lake in the crater of the volcano. Very pretty, with a lovely, but reasonably long, day walk around. Great views to Volcan Imbabura and Otavalo can be seen from there. To get there take a taxi to Cotacachi village and hire a taxi from there.

  • Cotacachi Village

Each of the small villages around Otavalo and Ibarra general specialise in a particular craft. Cotacachi specialises in leather goods.

  • Ibarra

A local speciality is Helados de Paila, or sorbet icecream. With beautiful fruit used to make the sorbet, it is a must for any visitor.

  • Other Villages

There are a large number of villages surrounding, Otavalo, Ibarra, Cotacachi. Each village tends to specialise in the manufacture of a one particular good, from the rugs, to Panama hats, to bronze busts.

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