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Ecuador & Galapagos Islands: Otavalo and the northern highlands

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The upland town of Otavalo, 2,573m, is world-famous for its huge livestock, vegetable and textile market, organised by the prosperous Otavaleño Indians who attend dressed in their distinctive costumes. Surrounding the town there are snow-tipped volcanoes, lake-filled craters, rolling hills, cobbled lanes lined with silvery eucalyptus, and tiny, whitewashed adobe villages each specialising in a cottage industry such as weaving, dough-ball figurines and wood carvings. Busy Ibarra, 2,225m, is populated by indigenous mountain people and others of African origin. There are leather goods to inspect in Cotacachi, 2,440m, and for walkers, a delightful stone-flagged track to the rim of Cuicocha volcanic crater lake, 3,246m.

Our holidays to Otavalo and the northern highlands

View all holidays
Weavers in Cuenca

Signature Ecuador: Volcanoes to the ocean

Private journey

10 days from £2,881pp

Cotopaxi

Walking in Ecuador and Galapagos

Private journey

12 days from £4,619pp

Squirrel monkey

Family Ecuador and Galapagos

Private journey

13 days from £5,066pp

Bartolome Island

Value Ecuador and Galapagos: At a glance

Private journey

9 days from £2,620pp

Things to do in Otavalo and the northern highlands

Cuicocha volcanic lake walk

Otavalo Indians

Visit Otavalo market


Horses in the Andies

Horse riding Ecuador's Andes

Volcanic lakes

Sunset walk beside a volcanic lake

Our insider tips for Otavalo and the northern highlands

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

Shopping for brightly coloured woven bags and jewellery in the aisles of Otavalo’s brimming open-air market.
Chris Parrott

Chris Parrott

Riding out across the grassy plains on horse-back for a gentle-paced view of Ecuador’s rural lifestyle. 

Claire Milner

Claire Milner

Sitting beside an open fire in a cosy lounge at one of the north’s colonial restored haciendas, their doors open wide for visitors.
Brian Williams

Brian Williams

An adventure by kayak on the scenic Lago San Pablo, one of the largest in the region.

What our experts say

Parque Condor, or the Raptor Rescue Centre, is a mere 4.5km from Otavalo. It houses rescued birds of prey  which, for various reasons, cannot be released into the wild, and carries out very important community education work with local school groups, raising awareness of wildlife and conservation issues. The centre´s work helps save these species from extinction. A visit is very interesting, though of course the birds are in cages.

Lina

Lina Fuller

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