September 22, 2019

Otavalo: Ecuador Indigenous Style

Otavalo is more than just a fun daytrip from Quito, Ecuador. Itís the premier place in the country to purchase indigenous handicrafts, get out of the cityís hustle and bustle and a seriously scenic drive. Volcanic vistas, viewable from a stop at the scientific park honoring the equator in Ecuador, rolling farmlands and antique haciendas are included on the list of things to experience in Otavalo, Ecuador.

The Otavalo market simply must be experienced.

Whether your agenda is souvenir shopping or colorful photo ops, youíll enjoy strolling the stalls of the Otavalo market, which has been a major trade stop since pre-Incan times. Yes, youíll see your share of tourist busses, but a more diverse selection of indigenous handicrafts wonít be found elsewhere in the country. Blankets, woven belts, sweaters, baskets, jewelry and more are available for avid bargain hunters. When youíre ready for a break, stroll the marketís perimeter for access to a second-story patio bar from which to enjoy the view without the need to haggle or fend off enthusiastic sellers. A teacher friend who has lived in Quito turned us on to a bakery on that same stall perimeter that makes pies the expats all go crazy for. Best. Blueberry. Pie. Ever. Seriously, Iím a native Mainer and this pie, available when the berries are in season in Ecuador is inches thick and a must-try for blueberry fans.

The animal market in Otavalo is also worth stopping by for a peek into local life.

People from the area living a more agricultural lifestyle come to sell and purchase chickens, rope, llamas, pigs and more for their farms. Youíll see local dress, animals up close and some of what the farming locals truly depend on to support their families. We considered this a fun stop on our trip to Otavalo, and a nice break from the typical tourist scene. Families traveling with kids should also enjoy the stop, as farm animals are usually a big hit with youngsters.

See the real Ecuador equator when you visit Otavalo.

Skip the typical trashy tourist stop and check out the scientifically accurate location by taking the alternative easterly route to Otavalo on your way out of Quito. There are actually two spots to visit, very close together on the road, as detailed in this Ecuador equator article. From the picturesque equatorial park youíll be able to see the mountain that marks the highest point on the equator for the entire planet, provided the sky is clear enough on the day you visit.

Squeeze in a stop at Hacienda Pinsaqui for a great meal and a relaxing agritourism experience.

One of the most serene places to stay in Otavalo is Hacienda Pinsaqui. Itís an authentic historic hacienda with quaint rooms, a gift shop with high-end items produced by local artisans, a delightful restaurant, strollable fields, horseback riding, and lovable, pasture-lounging llamas. If you have the time to spend a day or two in Otavalo, Hacienda Pinsaqui is the place to do it.

Whether youíre searching for a scientifically accurate spot to visit the equator, on a quest to experience the historic Otavalo market, or simply want a rustic getaway from the congestion of Quito and its traffic, Otavalo, Ecuador is a great place to spend some time and get a taste of local artistry and culture.

Photo Credits: Trek Hound – Additional pictures of Otavalo are available to online publishers through a sister site via a creative commons agreement. You need only to provide a link back to the original gallery or homepage.


  1. Ami C Mycko says:

    Does anyone know where I could buy 12-24 of the striped rainbow sweaters from the Otavalo Market in the picture above? i would like to purchase them for the children of my outdoor school. I live in Oregon. Thank you.

  2. webmaster says:

    Hi Ami,

    I’m not familiar with any importers who market Ecuadorian products, but if you’re unable to travel there you might try contacting the tourism or visitor’s bureau for the country. They may very well be able to point you in the correct direction. Also, the #Ecuador discussion tag on Twitter would be a great place to join in the discussion and ask. Someone participating may know the answer. Good luck!