The city of Otavalo is located in the province of Imbabura, in northern Ecuador. Also called the “Intercultural Capital of Ecuador” for its cultural and historical richness, but above all for being the cradle of the Quichua people, the Otavalos, well known for their textile and commercial skills, characteristics that have given rise to the largest Market of indigenous crafts from Latin America known as “Plaza de los Ponchos”.

Our Best Otavalo Tours

Our top 5 things to do in Otavalo

The “Intercultural Capital of Ecuador“, Otavalo, is recognized for its cultural and historical richness, and for being the cradle of the Quichua people, the Otavalos. Here are some of the places and activities to do in Otavalo and its surroundings.

Condor Park

This park has a beautiful panoramic view and an area of 12 hectares. It’s administered by the Condor Park Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, rescue, rehabilitation, and possible reintroduction to the nature of birds of prey, condors, hawks, vultures and owls.

Peguche Waterfall

The Peguche Waterfall is a recreational environmental area, made up of an extension of 40 hectares, 25 comprise the communal housing sector of the old Quinchuquí-Peguche farm, and the remaining 15 correspond to the Protected Forest. The waterfall is 30 meters high and 6 meters wide, full of bushy vegetation and well-defined paths to visit with the family or friends.

San Pablo Lake

San Pablo Lake is located in the Gonzáles Suárez, Eugenio Espejo and San Rafael parishes; 10.7 km (10 minutes) south of the city of Otavalo. This lake located at the foot of the majestic Imbabura volcano offers us several paths that will take us to natural viewpoints such as El Lechero and Mira Lago, also on its shores the totora grows, this aquatic plant is used for making handicrafts.

Hacienda Zuleta

The owners and administrators are the children and grandchildren of former president Galo Plaza Lasso and his wife, Avelina, thanks to whom the production of the embroidered textiles by hand became popular in the 40s, and for which the Imbaburean women's but especially the Zuleta women's embroiderers are known in the actuality yet. Here a comfortable stay and friendly service are offered in an outstanding, luxurious, and very well-preserved building (hacienda) from the 17th century.

Ascent to the Imbabura Volcano

The Imbabura is a volcano that is located in the province of Imbabura and has an approximate height of 4,630 meters above sea level. In the north, at a distance of 10 kilometers, is the city of Ibarra, and to the south is Lake San Pablo, near Otavalo. Due to the spectacular view, it offers, many people, whether or not they are professionals in hiking, ascend and discover new charms and wonderful landscapes.

Best food in Otavalo

Otavalo and its surroundings offer a good variety of delicious traditional dishes. Below, we’ll show some information about the most outstanding.

Fritada de Atuntaqui

For this typical dish, the pork must first be well-drained from the "mapahuira" or lard that was produced from cooking. And then it is served with potatoes and ripe plantain, mote, corn and tostado.

Calpo Broad Beans

It is a dish very prepared by the indigenous people of Otavalo, basically is a mixture of potatoes, broad beans and melloco.

Roasted guinea pig

One of the most traditional dishes in the city of Otavalo. The roasted guinea pig is prepared over charcoal after it has been previously marinated with plenty of garlic, salt and various seasonings, and inserted into a stick, which is the one that serves as a rudder to turn it. And it is accompanied by mote, tostado, corn, and potatoes.

Chicha de Jora

It’s a traditional drink in the ‘Yamor’ Parties of Otavalo. It’s a fermented drink that is prepared with 7 varieties of maize and is usually fermented in pots or clay vessels. The chicha can be consumed as a cold drink, and if it is left to ferment long enough it can have low alcohol content.

Paila ice cream

Its elaboration is in an artisanal way, a bronze ‘paila’ set in ice with granulated salt is used to preserve the cold for longer, which in turn is on a bed of straw. Inside the paila, put the fruit juice and sugar. Basically, the elaboration technique implies that the paila is constantly turned over and with a paddle, the liquid is released as it solidifies from the walls of the paila.

What to pack for Otavalo

Hiking shoes

You will walk a lot while you are knowing and discovering new places and views, so it’s very important to feel comfortable in your shoes.

Wind and waterproof coat

Otavalo and its surroundings generally have mild weather (16° C) but can change and low down the temperature, so it’s important to have a wind and waterproof coat, to be warm and protected from the wind and rain.

Reusable water bottle

During your visits to the different places of Otavalo and its surroundings, you will walk a lot so you easily can feel thirsty, even if isn’t a sunny day. For that reason, is necessary to bring with you a reusable water bottle that will help you to stay hydrated.


Although it is a temperate climate, keep in mind that sun exposure can be very high and you may not notice it because of the cold. Also, a lipstick to prevent dry lips and a moisturizer if you have skin that tends to dry out easily.

Comfortable and warm clothes

During your visit to Otavalo and its surroundings, it is convenient to dress in several layers of clothing to feel warm and comfy every time.


It’s very important to have cash if you want to buy handicrafts, drinks, traditional sweets or other things.

Other things to know before you go

Depending on your nationality, you’ll need a valid passport and may also need a visa to enter Ecuador. Please check this well in advance of your trip departure date. Also, people over 16 years old have to present the vaccination card against COVID-19 with at least 14 days of validity after completing the schedule. In addition, the negative result of a qualitative RT-PCR test in real-time, carried out up to 72 hours prior to shipment to Ecuador. The country’s entry requirements may vary depending on the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, so please check them in advance before your trip.

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