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Otavalo Indian Market: Otavalo girl with baby, Ecuador



Otavalo Market

At a road distance of ±100km from Quito, the Otavalo Market is located in the Andes of Ecuador, at an elevation of 2600 masl, slightly lower than the the nation's capital. The Otavalo artisan market is one of the nicest in all of Latin America with art products unknown anywhere else in South America. Many products have been influenced by western art, like the patterns inspired by Escher, but then incorporated in the local Inca art motives. Colors, keen art craft, quality wool, all overwhelmingly present at this market, make a visit to Otavalo an absolute must when you visit Ecuador. Let us help you find a great affordable place to sleep, a wonderful local pub to spend an evening so you will remember Otavalo as a lifetime highlight.


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Some facts about the Otavalo Indigenous Market

From Quito, it is a 2 hours' ride to this largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town has about 100,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by enormous volcanoes: Cotacachi 4,995m, Imbabura 4,630m,  and Mojanda 4263m.


The women are dressed in white embroidered blouses, with lace sleeves, and black or dark blue over skirts, with white under skirts. The Men wear white trousers, and dark blue ponchos. Both sexes wear their hair in long braided tails. The women wear many strings of glass-golden beads around their necks and strings of coral beads around their wrists.


It is held on the Plaza de los Ponchos, was built with financing of the Netherlands in 1970 and designed by the Dutch architect Tonny Zwollo. It consists of 90 concrete umbrella-shaped stalls with benches. The famous Otavalo textiles are mostly made of wool, weavings in many bright colors. Otavalo Market days are all week long but there is more on Saturdays, the market's peak day, when almost one third of downtown becomes clad with stalls selling items like 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.  With so much competition, prices at the Otavalo Artisan Market are very reasonable, and there is not much room for negotiation.


If you can't make it to Otavalo, we recommend you go in Quito to the Mercado de Artesanías El Mariscal, in the Calle Juan Leon Mera & Jorge Washington and for better quality products to Productos Andinos on the corner of Callle Urbina & Cordero. For more information, read: Art and Craft in Ecuador.


Originally a typical Andean agricultural area on the rich volcanic soils, Otavalo consisted originally of a farming community . With the popularity of the Otavalo crafts aided by the rich traditional clothing tourism started to grow in the 1970s, and the town now is one of the prime destinations for tourists and there are now many more posadas (hotels in a colonial house surrounding a courtyard), than other similarly sized Ecuadorian towns, while all week long, romantic restaurants in old colonial houses entertain their guests with traditional Andes music. Every year the the indigenous festival for the summer solstice, called Inti Raymi takes place around the the 21 of June, in different towns in the region, including at the Peguche Waterfall (contact is for details).


Other markets nearby

Many nearby towns produce their different handicrafts: Cotacachi, is known for Ecuador's leather industry, while San Antonio, is known for its wood carving, with show case art displayed in the streets in the form of carved statues, picture frames, and furniture. All these places can be comfortably visited from your hotel en Otavalo in 30 - 45 minute rides. Ask us for details.


15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Otavalo, Plaza de los Ponchos: Concrete stalls built by Netherlands Development CooperationLe marché d'Otavalo a été financé par la coopération néerlandaise pour le développement dans les années 1970.

The concrete umbrella shaped stalls with benches on the market at Plaza de los Ponchos was financed by the Netherlands development cooperation in the 1970s.


15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Indian craftOtavalo Indian Market: Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo Andean art market

15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Otavalo Art Market15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Otavalo women at the Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo, Ecuador

Merchandize includes countless different artistic products and everybody finds something of his or her taste.

Otavalo women having fun among themselves at a moment when visitors are scarce.


Otavalo Indian Market: shopping at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo, Ecuador15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: great gifts

Most people can't resist buying art craft and textiles in Otavalo.


15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Panama hats stand at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo, EcuadorOtavalo Indian Market: Antiques and paitings at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo art market, Ecuador

Panama hats



15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Beads and collars at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Rugs and wall tapisery, Otavalo, Ecuador

There is a wide range of woven products, jewelry, sweaters, wood carvings, paintings, Panama hats, antiques, etc.


Otavalo Indian Market: Elderly Otavalo sales woman 15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Otavalo merchant

Otavalo Indian Market: Otavalo Indian girl

15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Traditional Indians of the Andes, Ecuador


Much of daily life in Otavalo plays right before your eyes in the streets. It is such a hospitable and friendly community.



"Nightlife in Otavalo"

15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Andes Indian with Pan flute

Otavalo Indian Market: Traditional Andean Indian band15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Otavalo Night Life with Indian Music

Wao, this guy was sooo good. My wife and I could not leave until we were the last people in this local restaurant and he told us he was sorry but had to get some sleep. What a lovely group of people.

Enchanting traditional music and friendly "nightlife" in Otavalo is a lifetime experience.


The Town of Otavalo

While not among the very old colonial cities, Otavalo has charming monumental buildings, like the City Hall, the Jordan Church and the San Luis Church. The Plaza Bolivar is quite popular among the local community and often, on weekends people flock together for music performances. However, don't expect to find historical buildings of the grandeur of Quito and Cuenca. Otavalo most and for all is the center of the present day Indian craft and art. Just a small rural town half a century ago, one will also not find any important Ecuadorian museum.


15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: City Hall OtavaloOtavalo Indian Market: Plaza Central with City Hall, otavalo

The city hall of Otavalo.

Plaza Grande, Otavalo.


15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Jordan Church, Otavalo15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: San Luis Church, Otavalo, Ecuador

The Jordan Church.

San Luis Church.


Peguche waterfals

Just 5 minutes out of town are the beautiful Peguche Waterfalls:


Entrance of the Peguche Waterfalls reserve.

Visitors walking the last part towards the falls along the creek.


Great Otavalo Hotels at a great price

15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Hostel Doña Esther, Otavalo, Ecuador15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Restaurant Doña Esther, Otavalo, Ecuador15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Hotel Doña Esther, Otavalo, Ecuador


Economical clean and charming bed and breakfasts or "posadas" (hostels) are available in to explore the Otavalo Artisan Market. We know where to find them so you can feel at home in this charming city. Hostal Doña Esther is our favorite place for if you want to stay in Otavalo itself, so that you can just stroll to the market, but of course there are many more hostels for every taste and budget.


15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Weekend traditional dances program, Chorlavi, Ecuador15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Chorlavi Restaurant, Ecuador

15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Hotel Chorlavi, Ecuador15 OTAVALO MARKET FACTS [& TOURS]: Traditional dances at Chorlavi.

Hacienda Chorlavi.


Chorlavi is one of the oldest and most charming haciendas of all of Ecuador. It was awarded the most popular hotel of Ecuador by Tripadvisor. It is located at about 20 minutes from the Otavalo Indigenous Market and in the center of all the tourism destinations of the Imbabura province. An ideal location in an idyllic historical hotel if you want to spend several days in the northern part of the country.


City tours are almost daily available. Our Andes Trek, Ecuador program includes the best National Parks of Ecuador in the Andes as well as the famous cultural highlights, like Quito, Cuenca and Ingapirca.  Please contact us for information, rates and bookings.


For detailed information on climate and weather conditions read: climate of Cuenca, Ecuador; climate Galapagos Islands in Ecuador; climate in the Amazon of Ecuador and climate of Ecuador. If you want to learn more about the country, read Ecuador Facts.


PARKS & TRIBES and the COFAN LODGE have their sales office in:

Calle Mariano Cardenal N74-153 & Calle Joaquín Mancheno Carcelen, Alto Quito


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