Otavalo Tourism

Otavalo is the tourist destination par excellence in Ecuador. It has lovely places, its people, culture, traditions and gastronomy, tourist attractions. You will always want to come back to Otavalo


The Otavalo canton is located in the Imbabura province , in the northern regionof Ecuador. It has an extension of 528 square kilometers. It is located  to 110 kilometers (2 hours) away to the north of Quito . Book one day book to visit Otavalo

Otavalo general information

  • Date of Cantonization of Otavalo : June 25, 1824
  • Otavalo Borders: North with Cotacachi, Antonio Ante and Ibarra cantons of Imbabura province; to the south it is Quito canton of the province of Pichincha; to the east with Ibarra canton of the province of Imbabura and Cayambe canton of a province of Pichincha and to the west with Quito and Cotacachi the latter belongs to The province of Imbabura.
  • Otavalo population: There are 90.188 inhabitants
  •  Extension
  • Otavalo Official language: Spanish and Kichwa
  • Otavalo Currency: US dollar
  • Otavalo Religion: There is freedom of prise, but one that predominates believes is the Catholic.
  • Otavalo Altitude: Otavalo is located to 1,100 meters above sea level, in the Selva Alegre area, until 4,700 meters above sea level, on the Imbabura hill.
  • Otavalo climate The average temperature is 14 degrees Celsius.
  • Otavalo Location The city of Otavalo is located 110 kilometers to the north from Quito, capital of Ecuador. It is seated in a wide valley, whose surface is of 82.10 square kilometers, at an altitude of 2,565 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by the Imbabura volcano, Fuya Fuya mountain and the hills of Cotama and Rey Loma.
  • Otavalo Parishes and Communities The Otavalo jurisdiction has a political division of 11 parishes, 9 rural parishes: San Pablo del Lago, González Suárez, San Rafael de la Laguna, Eugenio Espejo, Quichinche, Miguel Egas Cabezas, Ilumán, Selva Alegre, San Pedro de Pataquí and two urban ones: San Luis and El Jordán.

Otavalo’s People

  • The population which is located in the city is around of 41,000 inhabitants (44.3% of the cantonal population) indigenous, mixed and in a minimum percentage afro ecuadorians. The first group is principally dedicated to produce and commerce textile handicrafts, meanwhile the second and third groups carry out activities in stores, warehouses, working in different professions, transportation, tourist services, among others.

Otavalo clothing

  • Dress of the Kichwa Otavalo people The traditional indigenous clothing It has its own characteristics in Otavalo.
    • Traditional Otavalo women's clothing Women wear white embroidered blouse with different colours and allegories, anaco which is a kind of long skirt, of blue and black colours, a thick girdle in the waist and a fachalina over the blouse. Each garment has a symbolic value.
    • Traditional Otavalo men's clothing Men wear white shirt and pants, blue poncho, hat and espadrilles.

Otavalo tourist activities

Otavalo Ecuador is one of the most important tourist destinations in Ecuador, it is visited by national and foreign tourists attracted by the cultural wealth of the Otavalos, who still maintain their identity, which is strengthened with its myths, legends, customs and ancient traditions inherited by their ancestors.

Ecuador Otavalo "Capital of Ecuadorian handicrafts", due to the variety and quality of products offered to the visitors in the world famous indigenous market. The craft market is an icon of culture in this place. Here it can observe the creations that artisans and merchants expose day by day.

Tourist Places of Otavalo

Cultural attractions

  • Ponchos Square Also known as Centenary Market is the scene of the largest craft fair in northern Ecuador. It takes place every saturday from 7 in the morning until late 6.
  • Lord of Sorrows Sanctuary, its importance is based on the presence of the Lord of Sorrows, inside the church. He es the Saint of Otavalo. The festivities ar celebrated each year on May 3.
  • The Jordán Church The new temple of The Jordán, admired by its wide and well-lit ship, majestic cupola and presbytery. Its construction was concluded between 1963 and 1964
  • Weaves Museum Here it is possible appreciate the rudimentary first machines which were used to make the fabrics.
  • Hat workshop in Ilumán It is a workshop where cloth hat are elaborated using an artisanal way, with an excellent finished.
  • Totora Craft Elaboration of articles made with totora, which is a vegetal material similar to thatch.
  • Artisan Workshops in Peguche Specialists making wool creations.
  • Indigenous Cemetery The indigenous community goes to this place to worship with offering, chants and prayers to their deceased relatives.
  •  Animal Fair , among others.
  • Otavalo Market also known as Ponchos Square
  • San Pablo Lake It is a beautiful water eye guarded by the Imbabura volcano and it is located just 5 minutes far from Otavalo.
  • Mojanda lagoons The are 4 lagoons Caricocha (Male Lagoon), Huarmicocha (Female Lagoon), Yanancocha (Daughter Lagoon or Black Lagoon) and Ñuscacocha (Blind Lagoon), which are surrounded by the beautiful Ecuadorian wasteland, This is a bright example of the natural beauties that Pedro Canton possessed Moncayo
  • Cerro Fuya Fuya. It is preferred by tourists who like the Mountaineering in its different varieties. In the sector there are three paths that lead to the top of the hill.
  • Peguche Waterfall The forest surrounding the waterfall has demarcated sites
  • for activities such as camping and picnic.
  • Condor Otavalo Park It is a rescue and care center for prey birds. It is located in Curiloma with an extension of 12 hectares, to a height of 2817 meters above sea level and an average temperature of 10 ° C a few minutes far away from the El Lechero viewpoint.
  • Taxopamba Waterfall It is l is located to 6.4 km from the Otavalo city, via the lagoons of Mojanda.
  • Viewpoint Lechero It is a tree considered as millenary, located on the site called as Pucará de Rey Loma, at a height of 2847 meters above sea level and a average surrounding temperature of 12 ° C.

Natural Attractions

 Otavalo is surrounded by the Imbabura hills

  • Mojanda It is conform by  of three lagoons, which constitutes perhaps one of the most beautiful scenery in Otavalo, surrounded by grasslands and remnants of native forests that maintain a representative biodiversity
  •  Yambiro hills
  • Pucará This millenary structure was built by the Incas, full of history and magic. This place es waiting for visiting.

Flora and fauna of Otavalo

  • Otavalo Flora There are several species such as: wild rosemary,chuquiragua, huicundo, achupalla, allpa-chocho, quishuar, zarcillejo, straw, zitzi, myrtle, blackberry, mortiño, cerote, yagual (paper tree), pumamaqui, among others.
  • Otavalo wildlife There are a diversity of birds such as quilicos, blackbirds, long tail hummingbird, brown hummingnids, torcazas, wild turkey, moor wolf, moor rabbit, chucuri, skunk, zacha guinea pig, pumas, it is possible find ducks in the lagoons, little ducks and trouts. It is important to mention that sometimes it is possible find Condores which is in danger of extinction.

Most important festivities of Otavalo

  • Fiestas del Yamor - August 30 to September 8.- The traditional Festitivities
  • of the Yamor or corn harvest, they are celebrated with popular dances, cockfights,
  • Native parades and demonstrations.
  • Pawkar Raymi (equinox) - March 21.- in honor of the flowering of corn and other cultivated foods.
  • Inti Raymi (Solstice) - June 21.- This celebration is a thank you to the Mother Earth and the Father Sun for the fruit repining.This is the biggest festivity It takes several weeks,  It is celebrated in different communities.
  • Koya Raymi (equinox) - September 21.- Celebrate the fertility with rituals to the moon and the earth.
  • Kapak Raymi (solstice) - December 21. - Germination festivity.

Otavalo´s traditional Food

  • Masamorra with guinea pig. - A traditional food in the indigenous funerals is a thick beverage called Masamorra accompanied with roast guinea pig. In the day of the death it is common to prepare masamorra but with small shells.
  • Fry Pork.- Prepared with with garlic, salt and onion. It is accompanied with cooked potatoes with shell, different kinds of toast and boiled corn, cheese and chili pepper
  • Baked Pork.- This is a plate is accompanied by different sauces and other cooked vegetables cooked.

Typical drinks of Otavalo

  • Yamor.- In the months of October and September it is celebrated the corn harvest, then the Yamor is prepared. This is is a fermented beverage  (chicha) It has a low alcoholic level.It is obtained from the ferment of the seven varieties of corn which are yellow, white, black, chulpi, pop corn, morocho and jora, all after a drying, grinding and boiling process. To this preparation it is added some aromatic plants of the area. This drink is accompanied with a plate of fried pork.
  • Champus.- In the day of death (November 2) it is common to serve shampoos that is beverage  prepared with cornmeal, mote and pineapple, accompanied by a special piece of bread called guaguas de pan, kids of bread.

Otavalo desserts

  • Quimbolito.- It is a sweet preparation based on cornmeal, wrapped in the leaves of a plant called achiras and finally steamed.
  • Sweet toast corn.- It is prepared with corn and ground brown sugar.
  • Uchufa tanda. It is a very exquisite food, it is prepared with a mixture of
  • Cornmeal and beans. It is wrapped with fresh corn leaves.

Otavalo history

  • Inca invasion at the end of the 15th century and the first 25 years of the 16th century.
  • Sebastian Benalcázar it founded in 1534 , with the patron San Luis .
  • In 1673 the transfer of the old Otavalo to the new settlement (current city).
  • In 1580, the Obraje Mayor de Otavalo and that of Peguche began operating since 1613
  • On November 11, 1811, the Otavalo is considerate as a village.
  • Otavalo was cantonized on June 25, 1824 , by the General Francisco de Paula Santander
  • Otavalo was considerated as city, thanks a decree signed by the liberator Simón Bolívar, on October 31, 1829.
  • On August 16, 1868 occurred the earthquake located in Ibarra, city near from Otavalo and this was severely affected.
  • In 1918 the train arrived to San Rafael.
  • In 1952, the Yamor Festival began .
  • On March 24, 1913, the electric power service in the city was inaugurated in Otavalo. This work was promoted by the brothers Tomás and Abel Pinto.

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