The city of Otavalo is located in the Imbabrua Province of Ecuador, one hour away from Quito, with approximately 40,000 inhabitants with an elevation of 8,307 ft above sea level. It is surrounded by peaks of Imbabura, Cotacachi and Mojanda Volcanoes. It is a land full of landscapes, traditions, friendly people and culture. The indigenous Otavala people or Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles, usually made of wool, which are sold at the famous Saturday Market, in the Plaza de Ponchos, also known as Centenario Market, which is the major artisan market in northern Ecuador. There is also an artisan production in clay, paint, wood, jewelry, metalwork, leathergoods, ceramic, etc. Among the products for sale there are: ponchos, scares, gloves, hats, tablecoths, tapestry, bags, shoes,and many more variety of products.
Another attraction in Otavalo are the Iluman Yachaks (Shamans) which is a community of indegineous that have rituals such as the: traditional cleansings, consisting of calling God and Virgin Mary to request for a good life and strength. Also invoked are the hills such as Taita (Quechua word meaning father) Imbabura and Mama Cotacachi. The cleansing with Guinea Pig; this rite serves to generally diagnose a patient. It is believed that all illnesses will be demonstrated by the animal. The shamans do not have a typical wardrobe, but generally they wear white pants and shirt which means "purification".
The San Pablo Lake, is considered another "must go to place". It is localed 10 minutes from the city of Otavalo and at the foot of the majestic Imbabura Volcano. In its shores, you can find lodging services such as Hosterias, as well as restaurants and places where you can rent small boats to sail around.
In this lake, a famous open water swimming event is held year after year during the Yamor festival. This city also offers adventure tourism such as canyoing, bicycle tours, rock climing, kayaking, trekking and camping.
Finally, we can say, this is one of the best tourist destinations and if you come to Ecuador you can't miss visiting Otavalo and its surroundings.
Written by LARM Ecuador
Maria Elsie Luzuriaga