"Otavalo" Top 5 Page for this destination Otavalo by malianrob

Otavalo Travel Guide: 135 reviews and 399 photos

Otavalo is one of my favorite towns near Quito. It is a very indiginous town with alot of history and about two hours away from Quito. Most of the people here speak quechua and some spanish. I mostly enjoy coming here when the Otavalenos have their fiestas.
My aunt and uncle live here and whenever we come to Ecuador we always come here for a visit. I also try to pick up a few words in Quechua whenever i am here.

Plaza Bolivar

Statue of the Inca General Ruminahui at the entrance to Otavalo. He was the general in Atahualpa's army and defended the people against the Spanish conquistadors

Otavalo is two hours north of Quito on the Panamerican highway, is a small town of about 50,000 inhabitants and home to the famous Otavalo Indians. It lies at 2,530 meters in a spring-like valley, situated between the Imbabura volcano.

Some of the indian "wambras" walking down the street in their typical dress.
Most of the locals do not like their pictures taken. They believe that by taking their picture you steal their souls. Dont be surprised if they shy away from you if you try to photograph them or if they get mad. Some local Indians will let you take their picture for a price.

Many of the Otavalenos have become very very successful from selling their crafts to tourist or even from selling their crafts in the United States and in Europe. They travel far and there's alot of interest in their items. It often surprises me that local Ecuadorians (non indian) still see these people as inferior. I personally have always been fascinated by their culture.
History has it that Otavaleño Indians have been talented textile makers and businesspeople since ancient times, prior even to the Incan invasion. Under Incan rule in the 15th century, Otavalo became an important administrative center, as new crops and animals were introduced to the area. A year after the Spanish conquest, Ecuadorian land was parceled-out to the Spanish. In Otavalo, Rodrigo de Salazar set up a large weaving workshop ("obraje") on his land; by the mid-1500's it employed hundreds of workers and produced a large share of the textiles used in colonial South America. The Spanish introduced new tools and fibers to the weaving industry, and by the early 1600's, the Salazar workshop had become the most important in the country.

The textile boom in Otavalo really took off in the early 1960's, when Otavaleños working at Hacienda Zuleta began to use weaving techniques introduced from Scotland. And so was born the material known as Otavaleño cashmere, which with its low price and high quality soon found important customers in Ecuadorian cities. The weavers diversified their products and soon established themselves throughout the country. Now, with over 80% of the Otavaleños involved in textile industry, products from Otavalo are found in markets around the world, from neighboring countries such as Venezuela and Colombia to the United States, Europe, and even Asia.

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  • In a nutshell:One of my favorite towns
  • Intro Updated Jan 23, 2007
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Reviews (30)

Comments (6)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Mar 13, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    Excellent tips about Otavalo and the surroundings! I'm really looking forward to visit Ecuador later this year. There are so many places I want to visit but I can't see them all.

  • b1bob's Profile Photo
    Aug 29, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Very nice job! It brings back memories of my own trip there 3 years ago. I did better at haggling than my native hosts who thought I might get taken advantage of.

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Sep 23, 2007 at 7:31 AM

    Yes, I had a great day in Baños. I did the same bike ride as you did - after looking at your photos, I had to go there. Thank you for being a friend.

  • sparkie11's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2007 at 7:29 PM

    Hey Malia and Rob, Howz it brah. thanks for tips on the Ecuador page. You know I am going in two weeks. I cant wait. By the way see you guys in LA. lolo

  • ribbs's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2006 at 10:58 AM

    your Ecuador pages are starting to look really good. I cant wait til you do the amazon pictures. And answer to your question is yes.

  • Sagespot's Profile Photo
    Feb 7, 2006 at 2:28 PM

    The Peguche waterfall is SUCH a beautiful location! I can't wait to read more about your travels. - Cheers, Sage


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