detour: otavalo

No trip to Ecuador would be complete without visiting famed market town Otavalo. Approximately two hours outside of the bustling capital, the Otavalo region offers visitors an escape from the frenzy and a glimpse into traditional Andean life. The locals who call the area home are some of the most educated and wealthy indigenous peoples in the world, a result of the towns famed market and traditional crafts industry which lures visitors here in troves.

While many people head straight to the market and then back to Quito, the Otavalo region has so much more to offer. From lazy city plaza’s to traditional towns and impressive nature, regret is not an emotion you’ll experience for spending a few days here.

Otavalo here we come

Otavalo here we come!

incredible views from the drive

views from the drive

visiting the markets in Otavalo should be on any Ecuador traveler's bucket list, but instead of heading straight to the Mercado Artesanal check out Mercado 24 de Mayo, just to the left of the main market entrance

visiting the markets in Otavalo should be on any Ecuador traveler’s bucket list, but instead of heading straight to the Mercado Artesanal check out Mercado 24 de Mayo, just to the left of the main market entrance, to stock up on produce and traditional street fare

Mercado 24 de Mayo grub: steak and the best lentil and beet salad I've ever had; mashed potatoes, cheese and aji to go in a bag; the freshest of produce; grilled corn with mayo and queso fresco; this little piggy went to the market...

Mercado 24 de Mayo grub: steak and the best lentil and beet salad I’ve ever had; mashed potatoes, cheese and aji to go in a bag; the freshest of produce; grilled corn with mayo and queso fresco; this little piggy went to the market…

artisanal souvenirs from the market; a misnomer, the "panama hat" is actually from ecuador

some of the available goods to purchase at the Mercado Artesenal; a misnomer, the “Panama hat” is actually from Ecuador

the indigenous people are the heartbeat of the region

the indigenous people are the heartbeat of the region…

...and the fervent culture

…and the fervent culture

for those wanting an escape from cramped Quito, the Otavalo countryside if filled with sleepy open air plazas and quiet town streets

for those wanting an escape from cramped Quito, the Otavalo countryside is filled with sleepy open air plazas and quiet town streets

as well as the chance to explore nearby mountains and nature like Cuicocha Lake nestled into the base of Cotacachi Mountain

as well as the chance to explore nearby mountains and nature like Cuicocha Lake nestled into the base of Cotacachi Mountain; be sure to go into town and stock up on leather goods from the towns many shops, the best of which line Diez del Agosto

cruising around

cruising around

the Otavalo adventures of Katie and Sarita

the Otavalo adventures of Katie and Sarita!

How to get here:

From Quito, catch a direct bus to Otavalo from Terminal Carcelen, located in the north of the city. The approximately 2 hour ride will cost you $2 and drop you off at Otavalo’s small bus station.

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