Duration: 1+ Days
  • This small mountain town is best known for its Saturday market when the streets overflow with vendors from all across the region hoping to sell their colorful crafts, woven goods, farm & food animals, produce and so much more. Over the years, this market has become quite the tourist destination as it is the largest traditional market in South America. Because of its popularity, Otavalo has also taken on a reputation as becoming “touristy” but we believe that if you want to see a traditional market and have limited time, THIS is the one to see. Only 2 hours from Quito with regular buses running the route, Otavalo is easily accessible, simple to navigate once you’re there, and offers plenty of side activities for members of your group who may not be so thrilled about shopping. Other highlights include tons of wonderful hiking opportunities, Peguche Waterfall, Cuicocha Crater Lake, Parque Condor, and tours into the nearby artisan communities.
  • NOTE: If you are able to visit on a Saturday, I HIGHLY recommend arriving Friday night if possible so you can catch the animal market before 9am on Saturday morning.

    Depart Quito at 7am and transfer approximately 2 hours north. Begin your day with a visit the artisan market (every day of the week) and practice your haggling skills for the perfect souvenir. After lunch in town, you have several options for your afternoon:

    Hike to the Peguche Waterfall, a spiritually significant space for the surrounding communities and an area used frequently for cleansing rituals with local shamans.

    You might also enjoy a 30 minute drive to Cuicocha volcanic crater lake. Here, you can choose to hike a bit around the rim or simply enjoy the view from the lookout, take a short boat ride, and enjoy a warm mug of canelazo. On your way back from Cuicocha, stop by the town of Cotacachi famous for its hand crafted leather goods.

    Parque Condor is a bird rescue center located on a gorgeous hilltop outside the city. Most afternoons, they do a flight demonstration and talk a bit about the birds as they soar through the valley. They also have a pair of condors that you can see up close and personal.

    Depart Otavalo by 4pm