The Indigenous Market in Otavalo is one of the most recommended markets in every guide book in south America. It is one of the visits, which you should not miss whilst staying in Ecuador. So, I decided to follow the advice of the guide book and went there on a Saturday morning.
Otavalo is a pretty little town, surrounded by Volcanoes and also one of the best-known cities in Ecuador. The drive to Otavalo takes about 2 hours. The most of the residents are indigenous people which is a very old community of native inhabitants. You can recognize them on their traditional clothes. The men have mostly long hair and wear black or white Huts depending on the status of life. The women wear long dark skirts and white blouses. The locals speak Quechua in Otavalo. Many people are very poor and this is the reason why they have to sell all handmade clothes and carpets on the market. In some small villages close to Otavalo is the barter still usual. However, the financial situation in Otavalo became much better as the market is more famous and many tourists come to visit the city. The Indigenous People maintain many old rituals and believe in natural healing processes. One of the rituals calls “ the cleaning with guinea pigs”. For the physical examinations, people use guinea pigs and put them on the body of the patients. After this process, they cut the animals to see if they showed bad reactions to the human body. If so, they can find out more about the diseases and try to heal them with smoke or different kind of plants. Another method is called “the healing of the shocks.” In this process, they try to call the disappeared spirit. The most used elements for the rituals are plants, guinea pigs, candles, cloves and liqueur.
Very early in the morning, they also have an animal market where you can buy guinea pigs, chickens, rabbits, sheep etc. On Saturday´s, the market is the busiest and you have a plenty of choice from all kind of blankets, alpaca-wool sweaters, scarves, ponchos, handbags and much more.
The market is very colorful and the people friendly. You could spend a half day there as the market is really big and there are lots of things to see. The products they sell are mostly handmade, however you should always try to lower the Price as many people sell the same for different prices.
On the way to Otavalo, we stopped at the lagune Cuicocha.
It´s a volcanic crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano. The landscape is very beautiful, especially if you are lucky and the sun is shining. Within the lake, there are two small rounded islands created by later eruptions. This is the reason why the lake is so unique. You also have the opportunity to explore the small lake by boat or just enjoy the view from the top.
If you like to have more information about the tours we offer or want to participate in a ritual you are welcome to visit Cotopaxi Travel website and we will be happy to help you to arrange a great visit and activities in Otavalo and surrounding.