Otavalo market is the oldest, best-known, and most important Indian market in South America, and it takes place every Saturday. This extension allows you to visit the market, traveling from Quito via Calderón and Cayambe, and passing by some of the Andean’s most attractive landscapes, such as the Santa Rosa and Mira Lago, on the way.
After visiting the market, travel north of Otavalo to Cotacach for a look around and some lunch, then enjoy the wonderful landscapes on your way back to Quito.
Day 1 Otavalo Market
Otavalo market is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip if you have the time and the advance-planning skills to book this extension. After arriving from Quito by way of Calderón, unique for its handmade bread-dough figures, and a stop in Cayambe for the local specialty, “bizcochos,” you’ll arrive in Otavalo and head to its famous indigenous market.
For more than 4,000 years, Otavalo’s market has served as the social and economic heart of the region. Today, it is Ecuador’s most popular destination after the Galapagos Islands. On Saturdays, the usually-sleepy town awakens to a cacophony of chickens, cows, and sheep, and trading of hemp, saddles, vegetables, grains, and textiles among the brightly-dressed Otavalenos Indian population. Although there are plenty of tourist trinkets to be had, visitors come primarily for the authentic local atmosphere. The market winds down by early- to mid-morning, so we will be sure to arrive early and well ahead of tour buses that arrive around this time.
Afterward, we will travel north to Cotacachi, a town famous for its handmade leather crafts. The town also boasts a lovely central plaza. Lunch will be served at a typical hacienda, or country inn. Afterwards, relax and enjoy the views on your way back to Quito.
What to Expect
Duration 1 days
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.