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Cuicocha Caldera and Lake, Nr Otavalo, Ecuador

Otavalo

Otavalo and the surrounding villages are famous for their dazzling textiles and intricate handicrafts, which are on proud display at the famous indigenous market held on an enormous scale each Saturday in the central ‘Poncho Plaza’.

Observe proud Otavalenos dressed in traditional attire bartering with tourists over stalls piled high with a vast array of goods, while children play happily at their feet and artisans exchange their earnings for food staples and livestock. It is a sight to behold and a photographer’s delight. Irresistible souvenirs include quality woollen blankets, scarves, sweaters, tapestries, ponchos, jewellery and embroidered clothing. Leatherwork comes from the nearby village of Cotacachi and beautiful woodcarvings from San Antonio de Ibarra.

Otavalo Market, Ecuador
Otavalo Market, Ecuador

A little more about Otavalo

The Imbabura province offers a host of scenic trekking or horse riding possibilities from the majestic torrents of Peguche Waterfall to the picturesque crater lake of Cuicocha, and the excellent bird watching opportunities at Mojanda Lakes. Make your Ecuador tour more memorable by staying in a local hacienda, a colonial farming estate turned into a beautiful, secluded hotel with period decor and local home grown produce.

Experiences

What do you really love doing? We curate your itinerary especially for you.

Peruse the Otavalo Craft Market

Shop for artisan carvings, colourful llama wool blankets, ponchos, jewellery and freshly baked breads at the largest craft market in South America.

Birding at Mojanda Lake

Journey to Mojanda Lake in the summit caldera of the inactive stratovolcano. Look out for Andean condors and chestnut-winged cinclodes.

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Horse Ride to Cuicocha Lake

Saddle up and ride over the Andes towards a crater lake that lies at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano.

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Hike to Peguche Waterfall

Discover the 18-metre-tall Peguche Waterfall. It is of great religious significance to the locals and is a wonderful spot for cooling off after a hike.

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Accommodation

Below is some of the wonderful accommodation to include on your journey.

Hacienda Piman £££££

  • Ecuador
  • Farmstead and Ranches

Tucked into an oasis-like valley between folds of arid mountains in the northern Ecuadorian Andes, Hacienda Piman is a peaceful historic retreat property that cements its traditional status through delicious home cooking, peaceful gardens and warm hosts. A base for exploring the rich cultural and natural heritage of one of Ecuador’s most captivating regions, this pretty hacienda has been lovingly restored and is one of the few haciendas with an outdoor swimming pool embedded into its garden patio. Vintage furniture adds to the discreet charm of the thoughtfully-restored colonial mansion, which is set in twelve acres of lush gardens.

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Hacienda Zuleta £££££

  • Ecuador
  • Farmstead and Ranches

Dating from the late 16th century, Hacienda Zuleta is a colonial working farm belonging to the family of Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador. Surrounded by the spectacular Ecuadorian Andes the hacienda has 17 beautifully decorated rooms with antiques, historical family portraits, open fireplaces and views of the gardens or mountains. Some rooms have a private garden or terrace. The 4000-acre estate is steeped in history and is still a working hacienda, farming cattle and sheep and producing various crops as well as cheese and milk.

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Hacienda Cusin £££££

  • Ecuador
  • Farmstead and Ranches

A charming 17th-century farmhouse near the village of San Pablo de Lago, south of the Andean highland town of Otavalo, Hacienda Cusin is an enchanting restored estate furnished with antiques and local handicrafts. Overlooking 40 acres of farmland, ancient trees and distant snow-capped mountains, the charming hacienda features pretty cobblestone courtyards, stone towers and secret gardens festooned with foxgloves and hummingbirds. Accommodations are scattered throughout the estate and are comprised of 25 classic rooms, suites and garden cottages, each with their own distinct character.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Bird

From quaint Andean villages and colourful markets to staggering volcanic landscapes and the Amazon Rainforest, Paul has explored the length and breadth of Ecuador.

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  • 01285 601 784

James Armitage

This small country encapsulates the continent of South America, and James has been privileged to visit the Amazon, the Andes, the coastal regions and the enchanting Galapagos Islands.

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  • 01285 601 784

John Faithfull

John rode the railways of Ecuador on the carriage roof before it was outlawed, but still recommends a jaunt along the Devil’s Nose – an engineering marvel that can still be enjoyed from inside a carriage.

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  • 01285 601 784

Roxy Dukes

I love to squeeze as much out of my day as possible. An outdoors fanatic, I love to delve into harsh environments having summited numerous mountains and trail running into the unknown whenever I get the chance – whether at home or overseas. Funnily enough, it didn’t start like that. It took a few years for the burning fire of adventure to truly take light with my eyes opened by the adventures travel could afford.

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  • 01285 601 784

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As usual all aspects of this trip went like clockwork, even thought we were in South America where timings can be different to other parts of the world! This we put down to the work done by Paul and his knowledge of the country.

Destination: Ecuador
Travel Expert: Paul

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