From $80 USD


Categories: City Tours, Regular
Otavalo - Ecuador
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From $80USD
Otavalo is a charming town in the northern highlands of Ecuador, famous for its indigenous culture and colorful market. If you are looking for a destination that combines natural beauty, cultural diversity, and adventure, Otavalo is the place for you.

Its famous market is not only a place to buy souvenirs, but also a place to experience the vibrant culture of the Otavalo people. It will be easily discerning to appreciate their distinctive clothing, such as white pants and blue ponchos for men, and embroidered blouses and long skirts for women. Another peculiar thing to keep an ear out, is to hear their native language, Kichwa, spoken along with Spanish. You can taste their delicious cuisine, such as quinoa soup, roasted cuy (guinea pig), and llapingachos (potato pancakes). You can also enjoy their music, which features instruments such as flutes, panpipes, drums, and guitars.

The market is also a place to witness some of the festivals and events that take place in Otavalo throughout the year. For example, the Inti Raymi festival in June celebrates the winter solstice and the harvest with music, dancing, and rituals. The Yamor festival in September honors the corn god with parades, concerts, and food. The Pawkar Raymi festival in February or March marks the beginning of the rainy season and the flowering of the crops with ceremonies and competitions.

Otavalo Handicrafts and Plaza de los Ponchos
Otavalo is home to the Otavalo people, one of the most successful indigenous groups in South America. They have preserved their traditions and identity for centuries, and are renowned for their weaving skills and textiles. You can admire their handicrafts at the Plaza de los Ponchos, the largest and most popular market in town, where you can find everything from woolen blankets and ponchos to jewelry and musical instruments. The market is open every day, but the best day to visit is Saturday, when it expands to cover almost a third of the town.

Other markets in Otavalo besides the Plaza de los Ponchos, are the following markets:

  1. The animal market, which runs on Saturdays from 6 am until noon. You can find a variety of farm animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, pigs, cows, and horses. This market is located near the entrance of the town.
  2. The food market, which runs every day from early morning until late afternoon. You can find fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, cheeses, and other local products. You can also try some typical dishes, such as hornado (roasted pork), fritada (fried pork), locro (potato soup), and empanadas (stuffed pastries). This market is located near the Plaza de los Ponchos.
  3. The leather market, which is actually in the nearby town of Cotacachi. You can find everything leather here, such as jackets, pants, belts, bags, shoes, and wallets. Most of the goods are made in the back of the shop by skilled artisans. You can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Cotacachi volcano and the Cuicocha lake.
Otavalo Nature and Adventure
But Otavalo is not only about shopping. The town is surrounded by stunning scenery, with three volcanoes looming over it: Imbabura, Cotacachi, and Mojanda. You can hike to the craters of these volcanoes, or enjoy the views from the nearby lakes, such as San Pablo, Cuicocha, and Mojanda. You can also visit the Peguche waterfall, a sacred site for the Otavalo people, where they perform rituals and ceremonies during the Inti Raymi festival.

Otavalo offers a variety of outdoor activities for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The mos popular activities are horseback riding through the countryside, kayaking on the lakes, biking on the trails, or zip-lining over the forest. You can also go birdwatching and see some of the 400 species of birds that inhabit the area, such as hummingbirds, toucans, condors, and owls. You can also spot other wildlife such as deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, and monkeys. Otavalo is a place where you can connect with nature, discover new things, have fun, relax and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Otavalo Nearby Towns
There are many villages around Otavalo that have their own specialties and attractions. You can learn about the local culture, crafts, and traditions of the indigenous people, as well as enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Some of the towns that you can visit are:

  • Peguche: This town is known for its weaving techniques and its waterfall. You can see how the textiles are made at the main plaza, and then hike to the Peguche waterfall, a sacred site for the Otavalo people.
  • Ilumán: This town is famous for its hat makers and shamans. You can buy a traditional hat or a herbal remedy, or even get a spiritual cleansing from a shaman.
  • Agato: This town is another center of weaving, where you can witness the weavers in action and buy their products.
  • San Pablo Lake: This lake is a popular spot for kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching. You can also see the Imbabura volcano and the El Lechero tree, a legendary site where lovers used to meet.
  • Cotacachi: This town is the capital of leather goods in Ecuador. You can find everything leather here, such as jackets, bags, shoes, and wallets. You can also visit the nearby Cuicocha lake, a crater lake with two islands in the middle.
These are just some of the examples of the towns that you can visit near Otavalo on a day trip. You can also find other towns that specialize in different crafts, such as wood carvings & musical instruments.

Otavalo Weather & Altitude
The best time to visit Otavalo for ideal weather is from late April to early September. This is based on the average temperature and humidity from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). During this period, the temperatures are pleasant, and the chance of rain is low. You can enjoy the outdoor activities and the scenery without worrying about the weather.

However, the best time to visit Otavalo also depends on what you want to see and do. If you are interested in the indigenous culture and the market, you might want to plan your trip around some of the festivals and events that take place in Otavalo.

The altitude of Otavalo is 2,532 metres (8,307 feet) above sea level. This is a relatively high elevation, so you might experience some effects of altitude sickness if you are not used to it. Some of the symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. To prevent or reduce these symptoms, it is recommended that you drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine, eat light meals, and rest well before and during your visit to Otavalo.

Otavalo is a charming town in the Ecuadorian highlands that offers a unique and memorable experience. Whether you are looking for culture, nature, or adventure, you will find it in Otavalo. Book your trip today and enjoy the best of Ecuador.

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Otavalo Inclusions & Exclusions

Hotel Pickup (city hotels)
Transport (hotel-tour-hotel)
Certified bilingual guide
Activities as listed *entrance fees apply

Personal expenses & entrance fees
Tipping (optional)
Transfer to other locations

Otavalo Highlights

Otavalo General Details

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4 guests+
3 guests
3 guests
2 guests
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Facilities & Services

  • Certified bilingual local guides
  • Changes on the go
  • Customize Itineraries
  • Prebuilt itinerary by local experts
  • Private guidance
  • Private transportation
Itineraries, inclusions and exclusions are subject to change by providers, or Ecuadorian authorities.
Saquisili surcharge: $10 per person.
Last revision: Jan 15, 2020 / Valid until: Dec 31, 2020
Certified tours by local authorities, compliant with local regulations.
Programs are private by default with certified English speaking driver-guides.
All rates are per person in US$ dollars, rates are subject to change.
Regular vehicles used by default, a van or bus for groups above 4 guests.
Order of activities are not fixed & might change to optimize your experience.
Activities may be replaced/changed if they can be arranged in the allotted time.

  • Cap or hat
  • Sport or trekking shoes
  • High factor sun block cream or gel
  • Bottled water to carry with you in tour
  • UV400 sunglasses with 100% UVB block
  • Digital camera or mobile phone
  • Light clothing & rainproof jacket
  • Cash for souvenirs, meals & tipping
  • Backpack to carry personal belongings
  • Passport copy, keep original stored in hotel

Children allowed: Yes
Children discount: 50%
Children minimum age: 6 years
Considered child: Under the age of 6
Restrictions: Accompanied with 2 adults
Discount & restrictions subject to change
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