A couple of hours north of Quito, the small town of Otavalo, nestling in among the surrounding hills and mountains, is famous for its bustling indigenous market, which dates back to pre-Inca times.
Known to be one of the most colourful and vibrant markets in Latin America, the stalls are spread over three main squares and spill over into the adjacent streets.
The Otavalenos host the market in their distinctive traditional dress — the men sport calf-length white trousers, rope sandals and ponchos and wear their hair in ponytails; the women wear delicately embroidered blouses and dark skirts, long hair in swinging braids, and their wrists are adorned by red beads.
Barter for one of the many high-quality crafts and textiles on offer, or just soak up the atmosphere with a stroll around the market.
Getting a good feel for the town and market can be done in a day trip from Quito, but by far the best way to enjoy the market and the countryside around Otavalo is to stay in one of the charming haciendas nearby.
These colonial farming estates have been converted into secluded hotels with comfortable rooms, home-cooked food, and tranquil gardens full of grazing llama and exotic hummingbirds.
For those who love the great outdoors we can arrange walks by stunning crater lakes and through sleepy villages.
Map of Otavalo
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The market features a dazzling array of crafts, textiles and jewellery, all of which are of high quality and good value.View details