Otavalo | Travel Guide
-Overview –
Visually speaking the town of Otavalo itself isn’t anything extravagant. The town has retail shops selling everything from tv’s to sneakers to popular apparel to traditional artifacts.  It is a clash between modern and traditional Ecuadorian culture.  However, look at what is around the town and your mouth is guaranteed to drop open. The beautiful Andean highlands, the hidden lakes, the volcanic craters, the peaks, the volcanoes and the small villages surrounding the town, it is all a treat for the eyes and the soul.

You can get to Otavalo by bus or by car from Quito.
  • By Car – Average private transportation one way runs around $100 per person.
  • By Bus – Ready for this? – $2.75 one way. Yes! Take the bus if you can!! You need to go to North Terminal from Quito City (taxi is best) and take a bus to Otavalo. Two hours-ish later, you will arrive at the bus station in Otavalo. There are taxi’s available here to take you to your place of stay. Just like Quito, take only marked taxis.
Suggestion: If you are not a backpacker like we are, it will be best to pack a duffel bag to take to otavalo especially while traveling via bus. Most Hotels in Quito are willing to hold your luggage if you are planning on staying there prior to flying out of Ecuador.
-Place of Stay-

Casa Mojanda
If you go to Otavalo, please promise us you will not stay anywhere but at Casa Mojanda.

We don’t even know where to begin to explain this place. This place offers a few cabins tucked away high in the mountains.

L-R : Jack, Coco & Chubby
Three adorable dogs who become your best friends await you. A personal chef who makes and serves the best food you have ever tasted, all from scratch from ingredients grown in their garden. A beautiful estate. A hot tub with the perfect view. Warm and welcoming staff.


If that isn’t enough, just look around and you will see beautiful lush peaks and Cotacachi volcano. There is also a trail that ends with a view of a waterfall conveniently located near the estate.

HIGHLY recommend a stay here!! To book, you can go to their website here.
-Things to do-

Otavalo Market
The Market is open every day; however, if you want to see the market at its fullest, it is highly recommended to visit on a Saturday. The colorful market features some of the finest woven products from the area. We did our souvenir shopping here and found everything from magnets, keychains, T-shirts, sweaters, hats, jewelry and so on.

Suggestion: The market closes in the early evening so try to get there early!
Lake San Pablo
This beautiful lake is located in the Imbabura province and is also found at the foot of the Imbabura volcano.The lake is surrounded by hotels, handicraft shops, and restaurants. We would recommend eating lunch/dinner at a restaurant with a view of the Lake San Pablo. They also have short cruises that take you across the lake.
Lake Cuicocha
This lake is also known as the Guinea pig lake, getting its name from the largest island located in the center of the Laguna. The lake is located at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano.

There is a moderate level trail around the lake where you can appreciate the beauty of the crater lake at different heights and angles. The opposite side of the trail features a stunning view of the Imbabura mountains and a few small ruins for you to explore.

Suggestion: A must visit in Otavalo!

-Keep in Mind-

The weather in Otavalo is cooler than Quito because of its location at a much higher elevation. If you are traveling around the month of May it’s important to pack a light jacket and an umbrella due to occasional drizzles.

If your stay includes a Sunday, then you should know that many restaurants and stores in the town of Otavalo are closed Sundays. The market is still open so if you missed it the day before, Sunday is a  good day to check it out without the heavy crowds.


To get around, taxis are available and are extremely affordable. It is best again for safety reason to travel in marked taxi’s and avoid walking around evening on.

We cannot wait to return to Otavalo! 
Until next time…
Dhara & Jenie