The mesmerising country of Ecuador has so much going for it – especially in terms of little-visited destinations that remain largely off the beaten track. One fantastic place worth visiting while on a luxury holiday to Ecuador is the small village of Otavalo, located in the mountains an hour and a half north of Quito. Here’s why it’s worth paying an extended visit…
The people of Otavalo are easily recognized by their traditional dress. Men wear white trousers and a dark poncho, whereas women wear a dark skirt and a white embroidered blouse with a colourful waistband. Both sexes wear their hair long (the men usually platted). Locals are known for their skills at manufacturing colourful rugs, jumpers and scarves and the town markets are the place to shop around for fabrics and souvenirs. Llama and alpaca products are popular with tourists but be sure you know what you’re buying is the real thing and not synthetic.
The Otovalo ‘Indian’ market is held on Saturdays throughout the year and is the best place to buy woven goods and materials. Vendors come from all over the surrounding countryside to sell their goods and you’ll also see animals and food items being traded. The whole day is a place for hustling and bustling and there is a lot to take in! If you try to speak a bit of Spanish, bring small notes and change, and don’t barter too hard, you’ll get some good prices and winning smiles from the vendors.
The area is great for families, and kids will be kept amused with plenty of activities from horse riding, mountain biking and hiking. There are lots of nature trails around, such as the 3km walk to the 18-metre-high Peguche Waterfall. The river here is a sacred place and local bathe here to purify themselves amongst the spirits.
The hike to Laguna Cuicocha is a splendid one. The lake is actually formed from rainwater filling the crater of an extinct volcano. Two lava islands and a spectacular view make this a sight well worth seeing. It’s about a 3 hour walk from town and there’s also a boat tour of the lake available.
Or walk to the healing powers of the Lechero tree. Follow the painted arrows on the ground on the road out of town until you pass a eucalyptus grove. If you carry on from here to the crest of a hill, you’ll see a solitary, rather stubby tree. The walk is enjoyable in itself, even if you aren’t cured of your ailments!
Stay at a traditional hacienda for a quintessentially South American vibe. Hacienda Cusin, for example, is a beautiful 27th century building which now plays host to plenty of visitors each week. The friendly English owner has put his own twist on the place, with unusual antiques dotted around. Each room at the hacienda is unique, boasting stunning vistas over the gardens and the mountains. Crackling log-fires keep the hacienda really cosy even through the winter months.
Article from the luxury travel experts over at Exsus.com