Otavalo

2 530meters above sea level

Otavalo is the commercial center of the economically successful Otavaleños, an Indian people who do everything possible to preserve their own culture. However, most of the residents of the city of Otavalo are white and mestizo. The Indians live in small villages or comunidades in the area.

The main attraction of Otavalo is the world famous Saturday market, with a huge selection of artisan and textiles. The Saturday market already consists of four different markets and the central streets of the city are filled with Indian vendors. The official artesanate market is located on and around the Plaza de Ponchos (officially Plaza Centenario).

The animal market starts at 5am and lasts until 10am. Larger animals are sold outside the city, smaller animals (sheep, pigs, dogs, cuyes or guinea pigs, etc.) are traded at the bus station. The regular local market can be found between 07:00 and 14:00 on the Plaza 24 de Mayo. The OtavaloOtavaleños Market sells home-produced artesanate, but they also buy products all over Ecuador (many carpets come from Salasacas), and even Peru and Bolivia.

You will find paintings, jewelery, baskets, bags, leatherwork, hats, hammocks, carvings, ceramics, etc. at the artesanate market.

On Saturdays, the artesanate market is extremely busy and pleasant. But for several years now you can also visit this market on other days. It is then less crowded, but also less cozy. Prices would also be a bit higher on Saturday. Indian sellers sometimes don’t like to be photographed: if you buy something first and then ask if you can take a photo, it is usually not refused. Politeness and respect on the one hand are important local values. And, as in all markets in Ecuador, haggling is an absolute must.

Further to visit: Peguche (small Indian village near Otavalo) with a beautiful waterfall, the San Pablo lake at the foot of the Imbabura mountain with some nice restaurants between small Indian villages, Cotacachi (a small town specialized in everything that is made of leather ).

Close to Cotacachi is also the nature reserve Cotacachi-Cayapas with the famous lake Laguna Cuicocha.

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