Overview

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.

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Things to do

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Where to go when - our guide to Otavalo and the northern highlands

Otavalo

The weather in Otavalo and the northern highlands is wide and varied

The northern highlands, including the traditional indigenous market town of Otavalo (2532m altitude) enjoy year round spring-like temperatures. The northern highlands are marginally warmer than Quito and the Avenue of Volcanoes further south, with temperatures averaging 21°C. During the June-September dry season temperatures can reach as high as 25°C and whilst there’s plenty of sunshine on most days, short sharp afternoon downpours are not uncommon. The wettest months are mid-February to April and October-December when overcast days are common or when short morning periods of sunshine give over to cloudy skies and afternoon rain showers. The main market day at Otavalo is Saturday when there are four different markets, including artisan and livestock.

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