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Situated north of Quito amongst the Andean foothills in an area famed for its lakes, national parks the bustling market town of Otavalo comes alive on market day, when hundreds of stalls line the plazas and streets to sell colourful Andean handicrafts. For centuries, regional markets have played an important role in Indian life, providing regular gathering places for trade and socialising..
Many people visit Otavalo as a day trip, but if you have the time it is well worth staying at a local hacienda for an authentic look into local life. From here you can take time to explore the agricultural fields peppered with small hamlets, boggy lagoons and little local markets that are blissfully void of tourist day trippers.

Out and about in Otavalo

Otavalo has morphed from a historic market town that was the local lifeblood into more of a tourist hub. Hundreds of visitors now flock to the city every day.  Although it is busy, it is also a mistake to miss it, as the local people are friendly and charismatic. The local ladies dress in long dark skirts, white embroidered blouses, woven belts, ponchos, gold and red necklaces and the men sport traditional felt hats, ponchos and calf length trousers, and as such the people of Otavalo make it well worth a visit.

Our opinion

The market is well on the tourist radar, and the shrewd locals know this too. Although there are some bargains to be had, most of what is for sale is widely available across the country.

Where to stay

Otavalo itself can be a little drab as a place to stay so we strongly suggest opting for one of the immaculately renovated nearby Haciendas.

Top tips

Every Saturday they have an early morning agricultural market for the locals. For an authentic look into traditional life set your alarm clock for an early rise.


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