Things to do in Otavalo
Filled with amazing scenery, Laguna Cuicocha – located in the Andes Mountains – sits about a 40 minute drive northwest of Otavalo, and is a large caldera lake nearly two miles across. The hike takes about 5 hours to complete the full circle and is an excellent first acclimatization hike if you are thinking about climbing Ecuador’s volcanoes.
Plaza de Ponchos
The Plaza de Ponchos is the scene of the biggest artisan market in northern Ecuador, and one of the most famous in the world. It is located right in the middle of the lively and picturesque center of Otavalo, where you walk among thousands of tapestries, ponchos, colorful necklaces, hand embroidered blouses, and various other local crafts. The Plaza the Ponchos is a cultural staple!
Cascadas de Peguche
One of the most popular attractions in Otavalo is La Cascada de Peguche and it sits about a 30 minute walk from town. These sacred waterfalls are considered an indigenous ceremonial site and are located within the 40 acres of a protected forest (Bosque Protector Cascada de Peguche) known as one of the most beautiful forests in northern Ecuador. There are multiple ways in which you can reach these waterfalls, including longer hikes that offer the opportunity to see and visit other areas such as the San Pablo Lake and the Condor Park.
A charming old square in town, you can stop by to grab a bite to eat, rest, and enjoy this little park. This is considered the true heart of town as it is filled with locals walking around, conversing, simply enjoying that moment in time. There are multiple shops around the square and it is also home to the main church “Iglesia San Luis” and the “Municipio” – a colonial styled building that houses government offices.
The majestic Imbabura, personified locally as Taita (father) Imbabura, stands tall and proud as the protector of Otavalo. Imbabura dominates the surrounding landscape and its beauty can be seen from anywhere in town but if you are feeling adventurous and want to take a closer look, you can also climb to its summit for a once in a lifetime experience.
Lagunas de Mojanda and Taxopamba Waterfall
Lagunas de Mojanda is a complex of three lakes located about 35 minutes from Otavalo. These lakes are surrounded by mountain ranges like the Fuya-Fuya which is the most popular destination for hikers due to is relatively easy trail to the summit. Prior to reaching these lakes, take a small detour and be amazed by the stunning, yet not often visited (in comparison to Cascadas de Peguche), Taxopamba waterfall.