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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.

Otavalo - Things to do

There are 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. The people of Otavalo make it well worth a visit; 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. 

Otavalo - Where to stay

Our favourite place to stay is the multi award winning Hacienda Zuleta. Otavalo is a little drab, so we recommend heading out to Hacienda Zuleta and other first class haciendas which surround it. 

Otavalo - Our Opinion

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.

Otavalo - Top Tip

Every Saturday there is 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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