Otavalo & Northern Highlands

The area to the north of Quito is part of the Andean highlands and is well known for its spectacular scenery. Snow capped volcanoes such as Cayambe tower over rolling hills interspersed by lakes and beautiful farmland.

Why visit Otavalo & Northern Highlands ?

  • Head out on horse back through the stunning rolling countryside
  • Haggle for some soft Alpaca ponchos & socks at the Otavalo market
  • Watch the artisan back-strap weavers of Peguche at work
  • Enjoy a leisurely hike around the beautiful Cuicocha crater lake
  • See the majestic Andean condor up close at the Condor Huasi project

The small town of Otavalo has become internationally famous on the back of its remarkably colourful and vibrant market that stretches back to pre-Inca times, selling woven products such as ponchos, jumpers, blankets, gloves & tapestries as well as many other items such as embroidered wares and jewellery for example. The indigenous Indian population has rigidly clung to their cultural identity and still wear their traditional dress, which includes white calf length trousers, rope sandals, blue ponchos and dark felt hats for the men, whilst the women are truly striking in their embroidered shirts, black skirts, shawls and brightly coloured beaded jewellery.

The village of Agato is worth a visit to see the Tahuantinsuyo Workshop where traditional weavings are still made using the backstrap loom, handspun wool and natural dyes as opposed to the modern chemical dyes that are used in many garments today. Iluman is another nice little village where you can see weavers at work and is also known for its dolls. Cotacachi is a lovely village which should be visited if you like leather goods as it is where much of the country’s excellent leather work is carried out and shops sell just about anything you could think of made out of leather at great value prices.

The old colonial town of Ibarra is the local provincial capital and a charming place full of cobbled streets, quiet shady plazas and traditional houses with terracotta tiles and white washed walls which has led to its nickname of La Ciudad Blanca or ‘the white city’.

Lake Cuicocha is the perfect place to escape from the hustle & bustle of the towns and here there is an eroded volcanic crater that is now a large crater lake almost three kilometres wide with islands in the middle and overlooked by the impressive Cotacachi volcano. A path leads around the lake and takes you through some beautiful countryside full of flowers and birds. The round trip does take half a day, but shorter walks are also possible.

LOCATION

ECUADOR KEY INFO

Visa

No Visa is required for UK passport holders.

Health Requirements

No mandatory vaccinations are required.

Time Difference

GMT - 5 Hours

Flight Time

13.5 hours with one stop

FOLLOW US

You can follow our adventures and travel inspiration and share your holiday experiences with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Keep up-to-date with the latest travel trends, inspiration for future trips and competitions to win luxury travel vouchers.

Subscribe