Otavalo: Mucho mas than just a market town

Getting from Montañita to Otavalo took 3 buses and just over 20 hours, then we finally arrived… on Sunday. The day after their famous weekly market. I was tired and disappointed to be there a day late, but as it turned out it didn’t actually matter. We were treated to a live latin band in the square, beautiful waterfalls, the world’s best fruit pie and a room with a view of the sunset over volcanoes. We were pleasantly surprised and reluctant to leave!

So many bright stalls and wonderful hats every day in Otavalo’s “Plaza de Poncho”

Otavalo is a small town in the Andean highlands and is in the very north of the country, it is known for its markets because on Saturday the indigenous people come down from the hills in their traditional garb to sell their beautiful hand made items. We were slowly making our way up to Colombia and this was our last stop in Ecuador before the border. We had spent a little bit too long relaxing and enjoying cocktails in the southern beach town of Montañita, so we decided to skip the other coastal towns and get up here using 3 buses: Montañita to Canoa, night bus to Quito then another bus to Otavalo, totalling around 20 hours. I was a bit disappointed to be arriving the day after market day, but as we wandered the streets on Sunday I realised the little town is probably more charming when it’s not heaving with tourists. The locals were still dressed in their traditional clothing and the regular market in the “Plaza de Ponchos” satisfied my need for wish shopping. Here are a few of the things we enjoyed around this cool little town…


The view of Plaza de Ponchos from the balcony of a nearby restaurant

Enjoy Plaza de Poncho from above: We stopped in at Restaurante Buena Vista for a delicious vegetarian meal and observed the market in the plaza below. They have a good variety of traditional and Mexican dishes vege or non vege.


This amazing big band played in the hot sun during a free show

Absorb the energy in the plaza: We always love sitting in the plazas and this one was especially good! They had a fantastic jazz / traditional band playing the Sunday we were there so we were able to sit in the sun and watch the people dancing away to the music.


Ohhhhhh the PIE!

Eat Pie. This is an order. The pie at the Shenandoah pie shop near the Plaza de Ponchos is off the chain. We were in Otavalo for 3 days and I managed to eat 5 slices… I tried Passionfruit (Maracuya pictured above), Blackberry (Mora), Apple (Manzana), Blueberry (Arandano) and Strawberry (Fresa) and I LOVED them all. I’m still craving this pie weeks later. $5usd with ice cream or $2.50usd without.


The brilliant sunsets in Otavalo are glass-of-wine-worthy

Stay at Hostel Chasqui and watch the sunset over the town: This was a great little hostel and we had a room on the top floor with wonderful views out over Otavalo and the volcanoes. I love a good sunset!


Peguche Waterfall is a lovely little natural spot

Check out Peguche Waterfall: There are actually several nature activities you can do from Otavalo and although we wanted to visit the lake the weather had turned a bit crap so we decided to walk to the waterfall and explore the caves at the top. We walked from town along the railway lines for about 45 minutes to get here which was really easy, then once here the tranquility of nature surrounds you! There is a place to camp, a river, a few pools, a suspension bridge and of course the beautiful falls. We took the walk to the top and ventured into the cave and down the stream to the second waterfall. Make sure you don’t go during the weekend though because this spot is super popular with the locals, and you will end up in about 100 selfies just trying to get through the crowds.

The cave at the top

We didn’t want to leave, and in fact we met one lovely girl who arrived the same day as we did and even though she was supposed to leave at the same time as well, she is still there 2 months later! It’s a lovey trap 🙂






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