Otavalo – The Most Famous Market Town In South America

I love visiting local Markets! Why? It easily reflects local culture and best of all, it also tells you what type of food the city offers. From the traditional “mercados” in Otavalo to the unique weekend markets in the Philippines, farmers all over the world gather weekly to sell their fresh produce and handicrafts directly to the market goers.

Hand painted crafts at the Otavalo Artisan Market
Hand painted crafts at the Otavalo Artisan Market (photo from Wiki)

Otavalo is unique and amazing place in Ecuador famous for its colorful market where you can find many attractive products and souvenirs. The market is established nearly 4000 years ago and its huge social and economic importance can be easily felt immediately after your arrival in the city.

Probably only Galapagos Islands are more visited by tourists in Ecuador and this should not surprise you. The experience to visit the market is really amazing and just for several hours you will be able to understand the spirit and traditions of the friendly local people.

The Saturday market in Otavalo, showing the colourful fabrics
The Saturday market in Otavalo, showing the colourful fabrics (photo by sputnikcccp)

The market is a place where you can buy all kind of livestock, textile, fruits and vegetables. There are also many incredible souvenirs that will make your trip to this beautiful country and city memorable. Fantastically decorated pottery, shiny cheap jewelry, wooden figures and colorful fabrics are just some of the products that will grab your attention for sure.

Many people come to the market not because of the huge variety of goods. The authentic local atmosphere and the Indian population are the main factor why so many people around the globe wish to come and capture with their cameras the beauty and uniqueness of the town.

Jewelries from Otavalo Artisan Market
Jewelries from Otavalo Artisan Market (photo by David Adams Kess)

It is really easy to visit Otavalo even if you have booked a hotel room in Quito, the capital of the country. You just have to sign in for an organized trip by bus and you are done. There are also many lovely colonial style hotels in Otavalo that will warmly welcome you if you want to spend more days in the town.

One of the best hotels for that purpose is “La Mirage.” It combines all the best from the local traditions and architecture with European aesthetics and luxury. There is working horse farm and you will have a chance for fantastic horse riding among ancient Indian villages, untouched by civilization mountain areas and a volcanic lake. The nature around the city is like a magnificent green oasis surrounded by the beautiful slopes of the Andes.

The market opens early in the morning and if you want to see how the local people deal on livestock then you have to be there before 8 a.m. You can search for appropriate souvenirs for your home décor and friends all day long, just keep in mind that after 10 a.m. the market is literally flooded by tourists coming from all over the country.

The local cuisine is pretty tasty and you will have the opportunity to try some of the best meals in your life. The local Ecuadorian wines are famous in the whole world and taste even better when they are served by beautiful Indian women in traditional costumes. Just don’t forget to put in your luggage warm cloths because it is really cold up there high in the Andes.

Best time to visit Otavalo is between May and September. If you are fan of hiking and looking for pleasant several hours among the nature, then Otavalo is one of the best places for such activity. The fresh air and the peerless beauty of the area will remain in your heart forever. Don’t forget to plan a trip to the beautiful Ecuador and all its landmarks.


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