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Why visit Otavalo and the Northern Highlands?

This is a lovely region of Ecuador, with the small town of Otavalo surrounded by huge volcanoes. The market at Otavalo dates back to pre-Inca times, when products from the rainforest were brought up from the lowlands to trade with goods from the Andean regions.
Reasons to visit Otavalo and the Northern Highlands include: 

  • Explore the hundreds of stalls at the hugely colourful, bustling Saturday market at Otavalo. Handicrafts on offer include woven wall hangings (the Otavaleños have specialized in weaving and textiles for centuries), jumpers made of llama wool, and jewellery.
  • Look out for the distinctive traditional clothing worn by the very friendly locals – calf-length white trousers, felt hats and ponchos for men, and long skirts and intricately embroidered blouses for women.
  • Hike up a volcano or go mountain biking or horse riding along the lake-filled countryside around Otavalo.
  • Get a beautiful view of Imbabura volcano from the shores of Lago San Pablo.

When to go to Otavalo and the Northern Highlands
Like much of Ecuador, Otavalo is an all year-round destination as the weather is fairly changeable all year.

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Otavalo accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT -5 hours

Flight time:

There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.

Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.


Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.


There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.

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