To really appreciate Otavalo’s craft markets, it’s worth checking out a few nearby villages that are famous in the area for their artisan crafts. There are also some other interesting attractions near Otavalo that are good to visit.
To save time, we visited the following places by hiring a taxi for a few hours at a cost of US$25. If you aren’t pressed for time, it’s also possible to spend just a few dollars by taking a public bus into the villages, or walking to all of them from Otavalo. Unfortunately, we visited on a very rainy Palm Sunday and just about all of the artisan workshops in the villages were closed.
On the main plaza of this tiny village, you’ll be able to get a glimpse into the weaving techniques used to make many of the textiles sold in Otavalo. Two places in particular are worth a visit – El Gran Condor (a textile market) and Tejidos Mimahuasi (a workshop). There is also a small church on the plaza.
In this small town, hat makers and shamans are all the rage. Ask around the small plaza for a special purification ritual with a shaman (no – I didn’t try it!).
In another tiny village, you’ll be able to witness weavers in action. The entire village was shut down for this church service:
Laguna de San Pablo
A large lake in the shadow of Volcán Imbabura, you can visit the shores of the lake with the possibility of taking a boat ride (on a nicer day than this).
This sacred tree sitting atop a hill is used for healing and purification rituals by the indigenous community. There are also good views of Laguna de San Pablo from here.
On this taxi tour, it was also possible to visit Parque Cóndor (a rehabilitation center for condors) and Cascada de Peguche (a waterfall). We opted not to visit them because the weather was so bad.
Lagunas de Mojanda (a collection of volcanic lakes), Cascada de Taxopamba (a waterfall), and San Rafael (a village known for totora reed weaving) are also in the vicinity of Otavalo, but we didn’t have time to visit them on this trip. It’s possible to visit them via taxi.