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Legendary markets cherished for over 4,000 years, cosmovision and celebrations of culture, world-class Andean Condor conservation

In Ecuadors highlands, Imbabura is known as the province of lakes. The various water formations dotted across this land of vast valleys is prime territory for fishing and water sports. 

Yet, perhaps most notably, at the foot of the Imbabura Mountain, Otavalo’s daily markets occur. These colourful sales showcase the compelling ancient culture of highland towns in Ecuador. Otavalo Indians pre-dated the Incas, and today the local Kichwa indigenous culture is at the heart of the town’s identity.

Get lost in colourful markets stamped with local pride and browse goods popping with natural colour. The gentle yellow from moss, and ecstatic red of the Achiote seed are vivid in the rare designs, objects and crafts at Otavalo’s famous market. 

Shopping in a buzzing market is a sensory experience which ties us into our present moment… But in Otavalo it is something that reminds us of a very important past. 

Twice a week in Otavalo, tradition sees the cemetery brought to life in honour of the dead. With flowers in bloom and hearty meals abound, this Andean community’s ancestry feels worthy of celebration every day. 

As much as the market has been a socio-economic centre for over 4,000 years, the impressive surroundings mean that there is so much more to be seen here. Stay in a historic countryside hacienda and feel like a caballero discovering the area on horseback.

Learn about traditional methods of farming, and get involved in the hands-on process. Embroidery and textiles are draped throughout the Plaza de Ponchos, and it is in a colourful Tawantinsuyu workshop where you can learn how these are created by local families. 

Trek straight from the door of your hacienda, out into expansive Andean vistas. Venture into the mountains towards the iridescent blue waters of Laguna Cuicocha in the Cotacachi-Capayas Ecological Reserve. 

Make sure to stop off at the Raptor Rescue Centre where the Parque Condor is reintroducing this once endangered giant into the wild. 

Call us on +44 117 313 3300 to start planning your holiday, we’re looking forward to hearing from you


Best times to visit Imbabura & Otavalo

Due to its elevation and situation on the equator, the climate in Otavalo remains pleasant year-round. In the highlands north of Cotopaxi and Quito, daily temperatures are higher, averaging around 20ºC. The sun is strong in the Andes and nights can get bitterly cold so  make sure to bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen as well as layers to wrap up warm by the fire.

It is worth noting that in Otavalo, February to April and October to December are much wetter months, its less advisable visiting Otavalo at this time of year if you are planning on hiking as trails may get waterlogged and inaccessible.

If you want to experience the market at its fullest, be sure to visit on a Wednesday or a Saturday for vibrance and a bustling atmosphere. 

Namibia month to month weather chart

Call us on +44 117 313 3300 to start planning your holiday, we’re looking forward to hearing from you


Talk to the team

Find out more and tailor your perfect trip with the help of
our specialist team on +44 117 313 3300