If you are planning to visit Ecuador there is one place which you should definitely include in your itinerary – Otavalo. This town of around 50,000 inhabitants is about a 2 hour drive from the capital, Quito, and home to one of the most famous markets in South America. It is also one of if not the largest handicraft and indigenous market in Ecuador. Consequently the Otavaleños are meant to be one of the most successful indigenous groups of South America. They are easily spotted by their traditional dress – white trousers and a dark poncho for men and for the women a dark skirt and white shirt, usually with colourful embroidery and waistbands. Both the men and women tend to wear their hair long and the men often plait theirs.
Otavalo enjoys a spring like climate all year round with the warmest months being from July to September. This makes it the perfect temperature for exploring the market, the town, nearby villages and partaking in many different local activities. The main day is Saturday but the market also takes place during the week. There is so much to see and to buy, you can easily spend a few hours if not the whole day wondering around and soaking up the atmosphere. One thing you must make sure you do though is bargain with the vendors for anything that you want to buy. Things to look out for include embroidered shirts, wood carvings, jewellery and lots of textiles and tapestries.
Otavalo makes a great place for basing yourself to explore the area. There is so much to see and do close by that it’s definitely worth allowing yourself a few days there. Why not stay at the beautiful Hacienda Cusin which is a 400 year old historic hacienda just outside the town? This is the perfect colonial hacienda steeped in so much history but offers a very comfortable and welcoming experience.
Please send your comment with your name and contact email. Many thanks.