Otavalo Tours Are More Than Just The Market
Hidden away in the Andean highlands is Otavalo. A beautiful Ecuadorian town rich in Indigenous culture and surrounded by volcanoes. The locals here are acclaimed for their beautiful traditional style of dressing but it is most famous for its weekly market called Plaza de Ponchos. This market is one of the biggest open-air markets in the whole of south America. Locals come in the masses to sell their handmade crafts and textiles to tourists. But Otavalo has alot more to offer adventure seekers and nature lovers. Waterfalls, condor parks and local culture all make this town an excellent place to explore and discover new cultures. So read on as we guide you through making the most of your time here and the different Otavalo tours on offer.
The world-famous Plaza de Ponchos
The Otavalo market is actually available every day of the week but is most impressive on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The market was formed and built in 1970, and at one point in the markets peak almost a third of the town was full of stalls. The now busy tourist attraction sells a range of handmade and factory-made products. Beautifully colored textiles, indigenous clothing, leather goods, shoes, food and other interesting goods are sold in the masses here. On Saturdays, there is also a livestock market. This crazy event sees cows, goats, chickens and other animals sold to farmers or families for surprisingly small prices. Although there is no abuse towards the animals here, it is worth remembering that culture here will be different from those from a western background. So this experience may not be for everyone.
Otavalo Tours and Activities In and Outside The Town
Just outside the town and a short walk away is Peguche Waterfall. This stunning natural wonder is about 18m in height and makes for a great afternoon of walking. In the surrounding area of the waterfall lies a few traditional restaurants and some eco campsites. There is also an abundance of wildlife in the area and thick fauna of different types of plants. The waterfall is considered spiritual and is used as a ritual site the night before Inti Rymi religious festival. People come to have a ‘holy bath’ to prepare themselves for the celebrations. A short trip away from the waterfall is the Otavalo Condor Park. This dutch owned sanctuary rehabilitates condors and other birds of prey. It offers daily free flight demonstrations for tourists and provides excellent views of the awakening valley and Lake San Pablo.
Experience real Ecuadorian culture at a homestay with a local family of Otavalo. They will welcome you into their home with open arms and teach you their way of life. The families speak Ketcha in their homes, so translators are provided for the time of your stay.
Outside of the town are two great hiking opportunities which make for awesome Otavalo tours. The first being Cuichoca Lake. This lake was given the name after the islands in the middle, which are said to resemble a guinea pig! The hike around this humongous lake takes around 4-5 hours depending on fitness levels and offers unforgettable views of the lake. The second is Cotacachi Volcano sitting at 4939m and is available to climb. The whole day takes around 8-10 hours depending on weather and fitness levels. Again, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area.
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