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Ecuador Otavalo Traditional Market
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Otavalo Indigenous Market Tour

A culture-rich Andean village, Otavalo is home to one of the largest and most visited indigenous-run markets in all of Latin America. While the market itself is bursting with a million colors, sounds and memorable characters, its surrounding area possesses breathtaking volcanoes, shimmering waterfalls and snow-capped Andean summits.

To reach this magical place, located just three hours north of Quito and our Surtrek office, you’ll first pass the towering Cayambe Mountain, which is a sacred place for the locals. With your guide, you’ll also stop for a moment in the town of Cayambe to sample traditional biscochos, a delectable local pastry prepared using a traditional technique in a wood-fired clay oven and covered with local cheese or caramel sauce (just don’t forget to pair these cookies with dulce de leche). The next stop is a viewpoint where you can enjoy the landscape of the Imbabura Volcano looming above the expansive San Pablo Lake.

Upon reaching Otavalo, you and your private guide will stroll through the world-renowned Plaza Poncho Market for a chance to absorb the feel of an authentic indigenous market and the talented craftspeople who make it possible. These Otavaleños (local villagers) form a prosperous community of skilled textile weavers who gather daily at the market to sell products and socialize, as has been done for centuries. The market is best known for its dazzling array of handicrafts that include embroidered Zuleta blouses and handmade shirts, as well as woven alpaca ponchos, colorful scarves, and woven belts (fajas). Of course, there’s much more than just textiles, as other popular handicrafts include paintings, “Panama hats,” ceramics, leather goods, carvings, and a huge variety of souvenirs for your friends and family back home.

You can spend a few hours wandering through this bustling handicrafts market, taking pictures and pleasantly haggling with these vendors who are known for their bargaining skills. You’re sure to fall in love with the variety and quality of artisanal goods, and the palate of colors in every stall, which are why Otavalo is — without a doubt — a must-visit place in Ecuador.

Depending on your interests, you can add to this excursion by learning about indigenous weaving through a visit to a home workshop in the nearby village of Peguche. Here, a family of weavers has amazing wares and will actually demonstrate how they weave on their traditional back-strap looms and how they make striking colors from local plants. Around the corner from there lives a family of musicians, where you’ll get a feel for Andean music and watch as perfectly tuned Andean flutes are crafted in minutes.

Alternatively, it will be up to you if you'd like to go for a short hike around beautiful Cuicocha Lake or do a bit more Otavalo shopping and people watching. Before heading back to Quito, you might also want to visit the village of Cotacachi, where the whole town — except for the expat enclave — is dedicated to the production and sale of leather goods, including coats, belts and all kinds of handbags.

Let Quito-based Surtrek South American Travel assist you in designing the Otavalo journey that suits your particular interests.

Reviews

“The Samba cruise anyway was great, good boat, good food, amazing guide and friendly staff.”Federica Novellini

Highlights

Traditional handicrafts market, San Pablo Lake, bizcochos, Cuicocha crater lake, local weavers and Andean music.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Otavalo Indigenous Market Tour
South America Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Otavalo Indigenous Market Tour

Pick-up time: 08:30

Days Operation: Daily

Visit:

Lake San Pablo delicious Bizcochos Cuicocha Lake
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Lunch

Prices

2019 - Price per person
Days Price per person
2 - 3 Persons
1US$ 234.00 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • Private transportation
  • Services of a professional bilingual guide
  • Lunch
  • Entrance fees
Not included in the price:
  • Personal items and expenses
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Bottled and alcoholic drinks
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