September 3, 2014

Daytrip from Quito: Saquisili Market and Hacienda La Cienega

When you’ve seen and experienced all of the things to do in Quito, you’ll be ready to start incorporating a daytrip or two into your Ecuador excursion. If Otavalo and El Oriente have already been crossed off your list, consider heading out early one morning to check out the Saquisili Market.

The Saquisili market is quite different from the one in Otavalo.

Where shopping in Otavalo is more about being able to have access to a wide variety of souvenirs in one central location, Saquisili is actually more of an indigenous market and a great opportunity to people watch and get a peek into how the locals shop. Although you’ll find a few woven baskets there, the Saquisili experience is more about produce, animals, food stalls visited by the local people and the selling of staples such as large cakes of sugar, bags of beans and things like cornmeal, rice and spices. You’ll also find cases of eggs and live chicks, as well as string beans, piglets and more.

When we went for the morning, we had a light snack of fish-fried rice at picnic table with locals, strolled the market for photo ops, watched a woman struggling with a pig who clearly did not want to go to market, and purchased a locally-woven black and white hanging basket as a souvenir. The colorful costumes, vibrant energy and local flavor make this a nice break from the tourist scene.

Hacienda La Cienega is a must-do on the way back to town.

Whether you are just stopping for lunch, or want to stay overnight to enjoy the views of the volcano and the on-site spa, Hacienda La Cienega is a charming historic venue to include on your day or weekend getaway from the capital of Quito. There’s also a charming chapel accessible from the courtyard of the Hacienda, and a number of quietly-reflective common spaces decorated with period charm and fireplaces throughout the establishment. This is a great place to come to curl up with a book and have some quiet time. The day we visited, we only toured the facility and had lunch. Our food was fantastic and the service was definitely speedy. The hacienda staff members were getting ready for Christmas, and the decorations they were putting up hinted that this would be a great venue for locals to book for company holiday parties as well.

If you do have time to stay overnight at Hacienda La Cienega, there’s a national park nearby that’s also worth checking out. Tired of all the souvenir shopping? Head to Papallacta for a spa break and mountain retreat. Saquisili market is just one of the many daytrips out of Quito available to you.


Photo Credit: Trek Hound – Additional pictures from Ecuador, including some of these ones from Saquisili, are available at PicturesofTravelPlaces.com.