Situated amongst the Andean foothills north of Quito in an area famed for its lakes and 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.

The highlights of Otavalo 

There is an array of attractions in this region, including a number of quaint and pretty small towns such as Calderon and Cayambe, which benefit from their dramatic Andean backdrop. Tradition is very important to the region where the friendly people of Otavalo speak the local language of Quechua; 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. 

The lush countryside surrounding Otavalo is best explored by horse, trekking or cycle bike. We can also arrange cooking classes, embroidery experiences and local cheese experiences in the region.

The best hotel in Otavalo

Our favourite place to stay is the multi award winning Hacienda Zuleta. Otavalo is a little drab at night, so we recommend heading out to Hacienda Zuleta where you will be welcomed with open arms by a member of the Lasso family that have owned and run the hacienda for over a century.

Need to know about 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 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.


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