The Otavalo Market is one of South America’s most grandest and famous markets. The best day to experience the market during Ecuador travel is on Saturdays. From Quito, it’s a 2 hour bus ride to the city of Otavalo. Passengers will start to get off the bus at several stops after you enter town, but be patient and you will arrive at the bus terminal.
Within five minutes of walking the vendor lined streets, Otavalo made my top 5 most interesting places I visited in South America. The energy felt while browsing the endless market is uplifting and fun. It evokes curiosity and an uncontrollable desire to shop once immersed in the chaos.
Ecuador Travel – Otavalo
We have chosen pictures that best provide an idea of what the Otavalo Market is all about. To be fair, I feel as though this is one of those cases where you really need to experience the market to know what it’s truly like.
The town is very pleasant and very clean despite the tremendous traffic it receives every Saturday.
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Locals and tourists alike both bargain for the best price of any items they desire. You can find almost anything at the Otavalo Market including: jewelry, Panama hats, movies, music, clothes, live animals, produce, meat, ready to eat food and hammocks.
The most intriguing and chaotic section of the Otavalo Market is the animal market. Campesinos and farmers come to either sell or buy cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, dogs and more.
I spotted a man carrying a crate of baby chicks. Within seconds he almost disappeared in the the crowd, but I chased him down to take this picture. We wanted to take 5 home for $1 USD, but I don’t think the airline would let us.
The clothing, tapestries, bags and hammocks create a surrounding landscape of endless colors.
Backpackers or tourists can be found wearing these pajamas all over South America, but you will rarely ever see a local dressed in these.
An array of spices and different foods from Ecuador’s highlands decorate vendors’ tables and can often be found in the almuerzos (lunch) served in the dinning section of the market.
LLama and alpaca wool are used for sweaters and scarfs that tourists purchase at incredibly low prices in South America. It’s difficult to make sure that what you are buying is real alpaca versus a synthetic mix. Traditional Ecuador textile is best represented in tapestries and blankets.
Food in Ecuador’s highlands consists of corn, potatoes, beans, rice and meat.
The market may be the main attraction in Otavalo, but the surrounding snow capped mountains, many restaurants and beautiful streets are enough reason to stay the weekend.