Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Otavalo girl with baby, Ecuador

Otavalo Handicraft Market

At a road distance of ±100km from Quito, the Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market is located in the Andes of Ecuador, at an elevation of 2600 masl, slightly lower than the the nation's capital. The Otavalo handicraft market is one of the nicest in all of Latin America with art products unknown anywhere else in South America. Many products have been influenced by western art, like the patterns inspired by Escher, but then incorporated in the local Inca art motives. Colors, keen art kraft, quality wool, all overwhelmingly present at this market, make a visit to Otavalo an absolute must when you visit Ecuador. Let us help you find a great affordable place to sleep, a wonderful local pub to spend an evening so you will remember Otavalo as a lifetime highlight.


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Some facts about the Otavalo Indigenous Market

Some facts about the Otavalo Indigenous market: From Quito, it is a 2 hours' ride to this largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town has about 100,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by enormous volcanoes: Cotacachi 4,995m, Imbabura 4,630m,  and Mojanda 4263m.


The women are dressed in white embroidered blouses, with lace sleeves, and black or dark blue over skirts, with white under skirts. The Men wear white trousers, and dark blue ponchos. Both sexes wear their hair in long braided tails. The women wear many strings of glass-golden beads around their necks and strings of coral beads around their wrists.


It is held on the Plaza de los Ponchos, was built with financing of the Netherlands in 1970 and designed by the Dutch architect Tonny Zwollo. It consists of 90 concrete umbrella-shaped stalls with benches. The famous Otavalo textiles are mostly made of wool, weavings in many bright colors. Otavalo Market days are all week long but there is more on Saturdays, the market's peak day, when almost one third of downtown becomes clad with stalls selling items like textiles, tagua nut jewelry, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods, fake shrunken heads, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters and trays, purses, clothing, spices, raw foods and spools of wool.  With so much competition, prices at the Otavalo Handicraft Market are very reasonable, and there is not much room for negotiation.


If you can't make it to Otavalo, we recommend you go in Quito to the Mercado de Artesanías El Mariscal, in the Calle Juan Leon Mera & Jorge Washington and for better quality products to Productos Andinos on the corner of Callle Urbina & Cordero. For more information, read: Art and Craft in Ecuador.


Other handicraft markets nearby

Originally a typical Andean agricultural area on the rich volcanic soils, Otavalo consisted originally of a farming community . With the popularity of the Otavalo crafts aided by the rich traditional clothing tourism started to grow in the 1970s, and the town now is one of the prime destinations for tourists and there are now many more posadas (hotels in a colonial house surrounding a courtyard), than other similarly sized Ecuadorian towns, while all week long, romantic restaurants in old colonial houses entertain their guests with traditional Andes music. Every year the the indigenous festival for the summer solstice, called Inti Raymi takes place around the the 21 of June, in different towns in the region, including at the Peguche Waterfall (contact is for details).


Many nearby towns produce their different handicrafts: Cotacachi, is known for Ecuador's leather industry, while San Antonio, is known for its wood carving, with show case art displayed in the streets in the form of carved statues, picture frames, and furniture. All these places can be comfortably visited from your hotel en Otavalo in 30 - 45 minute rides. Ask us for details.


Otavalo Indian Market: Otavalo, Plaza de los Ponchos: Concrete stalls built by Netherlands Development CooperationLe marché d'Otavalo a été financé par la coopération néerlandaise pour le développement dans les années 1970.

The concrete umbrella shaped stalls with benches on the market at Plaza de los Ponchos was financed by the Netherlands development cooperation in the 1970s.


Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Indian craftOtavalo Indian Market: Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo Andean art market

Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Otavalo Art MarketOtavalo Indian Market: Otavalo women at the Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo, Ecuador

Merchandize includes countless different artistic products and everybody finds something of his or her taste.

Otavalo women having fun among themselves at a moment when visitors are scarce.


Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: shopping at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo, EcuadorOtavalo Indian Market: great gifts

Most people can't resist buying handicraft and textiles in Otavalo.


Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Panama hats stand at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo, EcuadorAntiques and paitings at Plaza de los Ponchos, Otavalo art market, Ecuador

Panama hats



Otavalo Indian Market: Beads and collars at Plaza de los Ponchos, OtavaloOtavalo Indian Market: Rugs and wall tapisery, Otavalo, Ecuador

There is a wide range of woven products, jewelry, sweaters, wood carvings, paintings, Panama hats, antiques, etc.


Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Elderly Otavalo sales woman Otavalo Indian Market: Otavalo merchant

Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Otavalo Indian girl

Otavalo Indian Market: Traditional Indians of the Andes, Ecuador

Much of daily life in Otavalo plays right before your eyes in the streets. It is such a hospitable and friendly community.



"Nightlife in Otavalo"

Otavalo Indian Market: Andes Indian with Pan flute Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Traditional Andean Indian bandOtavalo Indian Market: Otavalo Night Life with Indian Music

Wao, this guy was sooo good. My wife and I could not leave until we were the last people in this local restaurant and he told us he was sorry but had to get some sleep. What a lovely group of people.

Enchanting traditional music and friendly "nightlife" in Otavalo is a lifetime experience.


The Town of Otavalo

While not among the very old colonial cities, Otavalo has charming monumental buildings, like the City Hall, the Jordan Church and the San Luis Church. The Plaza Bolivar is quite popular among the local community and often, on weekends people flock together for music performances. However, don't expect to find historical buildings of the grandeur of Quito and Cuenca. Otavalo most and for all is the center of the present day Indigenous craft and art. Just a small rural town half a century ago, one will also not find any important Ecuadorian museum.

Otavalo Indian Market: City Hall OtavaloOtavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Plaza Central with City Hall, otavalo

The city hall of Otavalo.

Plaza Grande, Otavalo.


Otavalo Indian Market: Jordan Church, OtavaloOtavalo Indian Market: San Luis Church, Otavalo, Ecuador

The Jordan Church.

San Luis Church.

Great Otavalo Hotels at a great price

Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Hostel Doña Esther, Otavalo, EcuadorOtavalo Indian Market: Restaurant Doña Esther, Otavalo, EcuadorOtavalo Indian Market: Hotel Doña Esther, Otavalo, Ecuador

Economical clean and charming bed and breakfasts or "posadas"(hostals) are available in Otavalo. We know where to find them so you can feel at home in this charming city. Hostal Doña Esther is our favorite place for if you want to stay in Otavalo itself, so that you can just stroll to the market, but of course there are many more hostals for every taste and budget.


Otavalo Indigenous Handicraft Market: Weekend traditional dances program, Chorlavi, EcuadorOtavalo Indian Market: Chorlavi Restaurant, Ecuador

Otavalo Indian Market: Hotel Chorlavi, Ecuador

Chorlavi is one of the oldest and most charming haciendas of all of Ecuador. It was awarded the most popular hotel of Ecuador by Tripadvisor. It is located at about 20 minutes from the Otavalo Handicraft Market and in the center of all the tourism destinations of the Imbabura province. An ideal location in an idyllic historical hotel if you want to spend several days in the northern part of the country.


City tours are almost daily available. Our Andes Trek, Ecuador program includes the best National Parks of Ecuador in the Andes as well as the famous cultural highlights, like Quito, Cuenca and Ingapirca.  Please contact us for information, rates and bookings.


For detailed information on climate and weather conditions read: climate of Cuenca, Ecuador; climate Galapagos Islands in Ecuador; climate in the Amazon of Ecuador and climate of Ecuador.

Cuyabeno Lodge:

Shyris Park Building, Av. de los Shyris N36-188 & Av. Naciones Unidas, Office 608, 6th floor, Quito

Phone Office: (++593) (0)(2) 292 6153

Cell (mobile) phone: (++593) (0)999 80 3395


Find it on the Quito Map Zoom in, it is a very detailed map!

Email: [email protected]