Highlights and Main attractions of Otavalo

Surrounded by the rolling hills and jagged peaks of the Andean mountain range, the small market town of Otavalo is mainly known for hosting one of the continent’s most effervescent and spectacular and traditional markets, with a network of stalls that spans three of the town’s main plazas and neighbouring streets.

The town is just two hours north of Quito, meaning it is an easy day excursion from the capital, but some may also decide to escape the city and soak up the atmosphere of a traditional Ecuadorian town and its indigenous culture by staying overnight in a hacienda or boutique guest house. It is set in an area that is known as the ‘Quichua Belt’ where the indigenous language that was used by the Incas is primary and Spanish secondary, so it is an area where the local traditions are much more prevalent.

Otavalo is known for the incredible market there, you won't be disappointed.

Where is Otavalo?

History, culture and where to go

The history of Otavalo dates back to pre-Incan times when it was an important textile centre. The market itself offers a great selection of high quality crafts and textiles and takes place three times a week. Saturdays are the most popular and busy day of the week to visit, when the handicrafts and livestock markets are both in full swing, with the latter taking place very early in the morning and better viewed following an overnight stay on the Friday. The central section of the market is known as ‘Poncho Square’ and here you can purchase well priced sweaters, ponchos, rugs and other souvenirs.

The indigenous costumes are one of the highlights of Otavalo. The men wear white trousers, ponchos and sandals, whilst the women have intricately embroidered blouses, colourful skirts, braids and beads. 

Nearby to Otavalo are some excellent crater lake walks and hikes for those looking to explore the natural surroundings, and some of the outlying communities can be worth exploring away from the more commercial centre.

This is one of the best places to witness the traditional costumes of the Ecuadorians in all their unchanged and vibrant glory.

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