Full Day Otavalo & Cotacachi lagoon
The provincial market town of Otavalo, located just a 2 hours drive north of Quito, has the best known indigenous market in all Ecuador (Saturday); there is also a daily handicraft market. Its inhabitants form a traditional ethnic group with distinctive dresses and customs.
The charming countryside around Otavalo is overlooked by Imbabura volcano, adored as holy father-mountain by the Kichwa people. On the other side of the fertile valley you will discover the impressive jewel of Cuicocha crater lake. As a result of the hacienda-history, surrounding villages traditionally have specialized to agriculture, weaving, embroidery, leatherworking and woodcarving.
Every Saturday the provincial town of Otavalo fills-up with the bustling and best-known street market of Ecuador. It is a commercial and social meeting place. Besides crafts, clothing and household items, exotic fruits, vegetables, species and meat are traded. On the early morning cattle market you can even find guinea pigs (a local delicacy!).
For most tourists Otavalo's highlight is the daily handicraft market on Plaza Poncho, where skilful native merchants wait for you to play the game of bargaining on alpaca sweaters, ponchos, hammocks, pan flutes and other souvenirs. This region is famous for its woven textiles.
At its outskirts you will walk to the waterfall of Peguche that is locally considered as sacred, and a spot for shamanistic ceremonies at special dates.
In the centre of the authentic indigenous community of Peguche you will attend a demonstration of different traditional weaving-techniques.
Cuicocha crater lake was created when its former cone collapsed during latest violent eruption (about 3,000 years ago). Entering the rim, you are suddenly surrounded by the enormous bowl of the remaining caldera. Note both new-born islets in the middle of the emerald lake, which alkaline waters support very little wildlife.
Make an optional boat ride around the islets and spot aquatic birds and releasing gas bubbles. Or hike a part of the crater rim and enjoy the flowering highland vegetation (including wild orchids and the endemic pumamaqui-tree). You even might catch a glimpse of giant hummingbirds.
Included : entrance Fees, English speaking guide, private transportation