Otavalo is an excellent base for hiking and excursions to waterfalls, lakes and a raptor rescue centre.
Otavalo serves as a base for various excursions in the local area and there are several local travel agents willing to help you arrange visits, tours, hikes, treks, horse hire or cycling trips.
Aside from wandering around and shopping the outdoor markets , there are few noteworthy tourist attractions in Otavalo, although the surrounding towns, villages, and countryside are ripe with opportunities for sightseeing, shopping, and adventure activities.
Top 7 Attractions in Otavalo
1. Otavalo Market
Every day, vendors hawk an astounding array of goods in the Plaza de Ponchos, the nucleus of the crafts market. But the real action happens on Saturday, official market day, when the market swells into adjacent roads and around half of the town center is a sea of brightly dyed carpets, clothing and other trinkets. The artisans market presents some of the best bargains in Ecuador and, just as importantly, some of the best people-watching. The aptly named Plaza de Ponchos offers mostly artisan crafts – in particular, woolen goods, such as rugs, tapestries, blankets, ponchos, sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats – as well as embroidered blouses, hammocks, carvings, beads, paintings, woven mats and jewelry made from tagua nut (also known as vegetable ivory).
It’s not just for tourists, either; Ecuadoreans come here from miles away, to peddle and buy high-quality, handmade goods. The Otavaleños are extremely friendly and helpful, and they wear beautiful traditional clothing. Overall, this is one of the most colorful markets in Ecuador, and the handicrafts are of excellent quality.
Anthropologist Rodrigo Mora is an invaluable source of local information and his company Zulaytur has many reader recommendations. Guided bilingual tours to village indigenous homes offer a rare opportunity to glimpse the conditions of working artisans and interact with them while learning about the weaving process.
Known as the Ciudad de Paz (City of Peace), Cotacachi is a sleepy little pueblo with incredible vistas. From here, you can see snow-covered Volcán Cayambe and the lush green mountains in the distance. But no one comes here for the views, because Cuicocha, about 10 minutes up the road, offers much better views — perhaps the best in all of Imbabura province. People do, however, come here to shop. Cotacachi is famous for the leather stores that line Avenida 10 de Agosto. Offerings range from wallets and purses to shoes and clothing.
There is also a small museum here, Museo de las Culturas, García Moreno 13-41, in the center of Cotacachi, which exhibits ethnographical, historical, archaeological, and musical pieces from the region. Cotacachi is about 15km (9 1/3 miles), or 15 minutes, from Otavalo. You can easily take a public bus from the station in Otavalo, or hire a taxi for about US$6 (£4) each way.
4. Parque Condor
A Dutch-owned foundation that rehabilitates raptors, vultures and other birds of prey, Parque Condor offers a great opportunity to see an Andean condor up close, as well as eagles, owls, falcons and hawks. Don’t miss the free flight demonstrations at 11:30am and 4:30pm. The center is perched on the steep hillside of Pucara Alto, 4km from town.
Get Around and Things to Do In Otavalo
|Experience the Exciting and Extraordinary of Ecuador’s Culture and Excursions in Otavalo
4 stars & above
|only fr US$15