Otavalo, capital of Otavalo Canton, is a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town has about 90,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura (4,630 m. (15,190 ft)), Cotacachi (4,995 m. (16,388 ft)), and Mojanda volcanoes.
The indigenous Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles, usually made of wool (that is sometimes as black as a raven), which are sold at the famous Saturday market. Although the largest market is on Saturday, there is a very wide range of wares available throughout the week in the Plaza de los Ponchos, and the many local shops. The shops sell textiles such as handmade blankets, tablecloths, and much more.
The Otavalo market consists of mushroom-shaped concrete umbrellas with benches. The market was designed and built in 1970 by Dutch architect Tonny Zwollo.
During the market's peak, almost one third of the town becomes full of stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewelry, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods, fake shrunken heads, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters and trays, purses, clothing, spices, raw foods and spools of wool. As the city has become more of a tourist attraction, many of the goods sold in the markets are mass-produced in nearby factories and sold in the market by middle-men. More artisan products can be purchased in neighboring communities or at the Museo Viviente Otavalango.
Otavalo was an area made up principally of farming communities due to the rich volcanic soils in this area, but with the growth of tourism, the town has begun to focus more on the making of handicrafts which have made the Saturday market a popular stop with visitors to Ecuador. Tourism has become the town's main industry and as a result there is many more hotels, hostels, and tour operators than other similarly sized Ecuadorian towns, such as nearby Cayambe. Further, Otavaleño (people from Otavalo) have had notable success selling their goods abroad.
As Otavalo is famous for its textiles, many of the nearby villages and towns are famous for their own particular crafts. Cotacachi, for example, is the center of Ecuador's leather industry. In San Antonio, where the local specialty is wood carving, the main street prominently displays carved statues, picture frames, and furniture.
Otavalo is also known for its traditional music and musicians. Every summer the music of Otavalo, and the surrounding areas, plays a primary role in the indigenous festival for the summer solstice, called Inti Raymi. There are many musical groups currently traveling around the world promoting their music (sometimes known as Andean New Age). This style of music has had notable commercial success worldwide. One group from Otavalo which has toured internationally is the hip-hop group "Los Nin", which raps Quechua and Spanish.
Get delighted by the unique salt biscuits, “manjar” and leaf cheese in Cayambe on your way to Otavalo, catch a sight of the beautiful snowcapped Cayambe Volcano and Taita Imbabura during your day-trip, visit the Province of the Lakes, Imbabura, and learn why it earns its name, on Saturdays and Wednesdays (only), visit the fascinating Otavalo Indian Market, Meet the leather craftsmen inhabiting Cotacachi Valley as the perfect ending to your Otavalo market day tour.
Comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, hat, jacket and sunscreen, camera.
Bilingual Professional Guide, transportation, lunch.
Mitad del Mundo entrance fee, quitsato entrance fee, cost of extra activities not listed, hotel in Quito (we can arrange your hotel accommodation if needed), tips & Gratuities (optional).