Best of Otavalo

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Otavalo
In Ecuador’s northern highlands, the city of Otavalo is famed for its vibrant craft market — one of the best in South America. The laid-back town is the proud homeland of the indigenous Kichwa culture, and many residents still wear traditional clothing and maintain deep-rooted customs. Beyond the town, you’ll find mountain peaks and alpine lakes as well as smaller indigenous villages known for its artisans. 

A trail loops around the crater lake Cuicocha, created from a massive volcanic eruption some 3000 years ago. Boating excursions provide fine vantage points over the lake’s intra-caldera islands and unique wildlife (such as the silvery grebe).  You can also learn about the high-altitude flora and fauna on a guided hike around Mojanda Lake, lying beneath Fuya Fuya, an extinct volcano. A short hop from Otavalo, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the workshops in the village of Peguche, which is known for its traditional weavers and flute makers.
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Escape to a traditional hacienda in the Andean highlands (photo courtesy of Hacienda Zuleta)
Map of Luxury Ecuadorian Highlands Getaway: Culture, Adventure & Open Skies - 7 Days
Luxury Ecuadorian Highlands Getaway: Culture, Adventure & Open Skies - 7 Days

Mix luxury travel, cultural immersion, and a dash of outdoor adventure on this relaxed weeklong escape to Ecuador. It starts in the capital of Quito with tours of its historic Old Town, private cooking classes, and fine dining at the best restaurants. Then, push north to the Indigenous markets and historic haciendas of Otavalo, where you'll visit artisan workshops, hike around volcanic crater lakes, try your hand at traditional embroidery, and soar over the Andean highlands in a hot-air balloon.

Colorful hummingbird in Ecuadorian forest
Map of Highlands of Ecuador - 5 Days
Highlands of Ecuador - 5 Days

This short itinerary is perfect for travelers who want a mix of cosmopolitan fun in Quito and adventure in the nearby cloud forests. Start with a walking tour of Quito's most striking historical sites and neighborhoods before taking a short drive to the cloud forest of Mindo where you can visit a butterfly farm, see how chocolate is made at a cacao hacienda. Then, explore the charming town of Otavalo and see the Peguche waterfall where ancient rituals still take place.

 Lace up your hiking boots when you visit Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Quito, Otavalo & Cotopaxi: Best Itinerary Ideas
Quito, Otavalo & Cotopaxi: Best Itinerary Ideas

Seven to eight days is the most popular trip length for Ecuador travelers interested in visiting Quito, Otavalo, and Cotopaxi, especially when also including time in another region. If you're not interested in extending your itinerary, six to seven days is enough for your Quito, Otavalo, and Cotopaxi trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as four or five days. Read on for the best itineraries, including Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, and beyond.

A rainbow over the Pailón del Diablo waterfall in Baños
Map of Ecuador's Natural Wonders & Historic Haciendas - 8 Days
Ecuador's Natural Wonders & Historic Haciendas - 8 Days

Staying in a hacienda has become a must for any trip to the Ecuadorian Andes. On this eight-day adventure, you'll discover historic farmhouses dating back to the 16th century, lovingly restored into first-class hotels. Start in Quito and uncover its colonial past, then hike along Cucicocha Lagoon before pampering your body at Papallacta Spa. Explore Cotopaxi National Park and take a horseback ride at sunset. Finally, it's water galore as you enjoy hot springs, thermal baths, and waterfalls in Baños.

Colorful houses in Guayaquil
Map of Outdoor Adventure & Culture From Quito to Guayaquil  - 9 Days
Outdoor Adventure & Culture From Quito to Guayaquil - 9 Days

Discover Ecuador's breathtaking landscapes and colorful cultural traditions on this thrilling nine-day trip. Start with a tour of Quito, step on the equator at Mitad del Mundo, and dip in the thermal waters of Papallacta before continuing to Otavalo to shop for handicrafts and spend a day at a traditional hacienda. Explore Cotopaxi National Park and the Avenue of Volcanoes, then finish the adventure in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Countryside near Riobamba
Map of Best of the Ecuadorian Highlands - 7 Days
Best of the Ecuadorian Highlands - 7 Days

Traverse the very best of the Ecuadorian highlands on this 7-day itinerary. Starting and finishing in the capital, Quito, you will encounter bustling markets, awe-inspiring volcanoes, centuries-old colonial towns and Inca ruins. There's great hiking along the way in terrain ranging from glaciers and high-level plateau through to forests and waterfalls.

Go whitewater rafting in Eduador
Map of Epic Ecuador Multi-Sport Tour - 8 Days
Epic Ecuador Multi-Sport Tour - 8 Days

This active tour of the Ecuadorian mainland is sure to get the adrenaline pumping. In just over a week you'll enjoy adventures on both land and water. Brave the rapids of the Río Jatunyacu, cycle down the slopes of the Andes, hike through virgin rainforest to secluded waterfalls, trek to the shores of Cuicocha Lagoon, and soak in Papallacta's volcanic springs.

 Lake Quilotoa in Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Culture, Nature & Adventure: Quito, Mindo & Cotopaxi - 6 Days
Culture, Nature & Adventure: Quito, Mindo & Cotopaxi - 6 Days

Offering a mix of culture, nature, and adventure, this six-day journey around Ecuador takes you from the busy streets of Quito to the snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi National Park. Stand on the line of the equator and learn to cook Ecuadorian dishes, then venture into the Mindo Cloud Forest for an unforgettable hike. Spend the last full day of the trip on a horseback excursion around the volcanoes and lagoons of Cotopaxi.

Buy authentic souvenirs at the massive Otavalo Market
Map of Highlights of Northern Ecuador - 6 Days
Highlights of Northern Ecuador - 6 Days

Discover the best of Northern Ecuador on this diverse six-day itinerary. Offering a mix of outdoor adventures and cultural excursions, the trip starts and ends in Quito, where you'll get to know the capital city on a guided tour. The journey also features kayaking on San Pablo Lake, visits to Andean towns, shopping in the famous Otavalo Market, a hike around a stunning lagoon, a coffee farm, and more.

The Chimborazo Volcano
Map of Volcanoes of Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Guayaquil - 7 Days
Volcanoes of Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Guayaquil - 7 Days

This weeklong itinerary is perfect for travelers who are interested in seeing the astoundingly beautiful landscapes of Ecuador. Travel along the Andean highlands to see ancient volcanoes, sacred waterfalls, and lagoons before ending your trip in the lush coastal lowlands. At the end of each adventurous day, you will be able to relax at beautifully restored haciendas that will allow you to step back in time.

Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Ecuadorian Adventure in Quito: Otavalo, Cotopaxi, & Cloud Forest - 7 Days
Ecuadorian Adventure in Quito: Otavalo, Cotopaxi, & Cloud Forest - 7 Days

Use Ecuador's capital as your base for this adventure-packed, weeklong trip. Explore Quito's colonial past and visit the equator line, head to the lush Mindo Cloud Forest to see its incredible diversity of wildlife, and browse local markets for handmade art and handicrafts. No trip to Ecuador would be complete without a visit to one of the country's volcanos, and you'll get to hike two: Quilotoa and Cotopaxi. 

Snowy massif
Map of Hiking in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador - 7 Days
Hiking in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador - 7 Days

Ecuador is famous for its snow-capped volcanoes and UNESCO historic sites, and you'll get to visit both on this 7-day itinerary. In Quito, visit colonial churches, stand on both hemispheres at the Middle of the World, and hike the nearby  Ruco Pichincha Volcano. You'll also hike the Pasochoa Volcano, admire the scenery in Cotopaxi, and browse for gifts at mountain markets. 

Butterflies in Mindo's Cloud Forest
Map of Ecuador Adventure Loop: Amazon, Pacific Coast & Andes - 13 Days
Ecuador Adventure Loop: Amazon, Pacific Coast & Andes - 13 Days

See the many faces of Ecuador on this epic, 13-day adventure that takes you through the Andean foothills and the Ecuadorian coast to the rainforests of the Amazon. You'll witness colonial history in Quito, journey into the cloud forests of Mindo to discover birds, chocolate, and waterfalls, and head to the Pacific coast to swim with the marine life. Settle into an Amazon lodge to hike through El Gran Cañon and go whitewater rafting, then stop at hot springs and crater lakes on the way back to Quito.

Artisan Market
Map of Culture & Nature in Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Amazon, Chimborazo, & Cotopaxi - 14 Days
Culture & Nature in Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo, Amazon, Chimborazo, & Cotopaxi - 14 Days

The landscapes of Ecuador's mainland are as varied as the people who live there, and you'll get to experience both nature and culture on this 14-day itinerary. Meet the locals who call these regions home and learn about their history, way of life and relationship to Ecuador's landscapes. From the Otavaleños and Afro-Ecuadorians in the north and the Quichua and Shuar in the rainforest to the Kichwa in the central Andes, you'll dive deep into everyday life and explore Ecuador's nature. 

Go for a swing at the "end of the world" in Baños
Map of Active Family Adventure in Ecuador: Andes, Amazon & Cloud Forest - 14 Days
Active Family Adventure in Ecuador: Andes, Amazon & Cloud Forest - 14 Days

The small South American country of Ecuador is rich in wildlife, biodiversity, and natural beauty. Active kids, whatever their ages, will love this two-week tour of the country, which takes you from the high-altitude capital of Quito to the Andean plains, the jungles of the Amazon, and the cloud forests of Mindo. Horseback ride across the highlands, take night and daytime tours of the rainforest, admire dramatic waterfalls, zipline through a cloud forest, and much more.

Spend your days exploring and evenings relaxing in the luxurious grounds of your hacienda (photo courtesy of Hacienda Zuleta)
Map of Luxury Hacienda Hopping in Ecuador - 14 Days
Luxury Hacienda Hopping in Ecuador - 14 Days

Ranch-style living doesn't mean roughing it, as you'll see on this two-week Ecuador itinerary that combines scenic natural wonders and luxurious haciendas. You'll stroll the historic streets of Quito, learn to make flaky empanadas, and ride horse-drawn carriages in the highlands. More thrilling adventures are in store as you head toward the coast for horseback riding on the slopes of towering volcanoes and birding in Ecuador's cloud forests

Take in views of Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano from the hiking trail
Map of Culture & Outdoor Adventure in Ecuador - 8 Days
Culture & Outdoor Adventure in Ecuador - 8 Days

Explore Ecuador's cultural highlights and outdoor landscapes on this action-packed eight-day itinerary. Begin in Quito with a city tour and a cooking class, then bargain for traditional crafts in the famed Otavalo Market. Discover the Amazonian rainforest, including an Indigenous community, when you arrive at a jungle lodge by boat. Finish with a hike near Baños and a quick visit to Cotopaxi National Park.

Cordillera Occidental Andes Central Ecuador
Map of Ecuador: Amazon, Andes, and the Coast - 16 Days
Ecuador: Amazon, Andes, and the Coast - 16 Days

Explore the best of Ecuador in this 16-day tour through the Amazon, Andes, and Coastal regions. You'll visit beautiful colonial towns, indigenous communities, and experience ways of life both ancient and modern in this diverse country.

Parrot at Parrot clay lick
Map of Ecuador Wildlife & Culture: Quito, Mindo, Yasuni National Park - 10 Days
Ecuador Wildlife & Culture: Quito, Mindo, Yasuni National Park - 10 Days

On this 10-day journey through Ecuador, you will experience culture and extraordinary wildlife. It is the perfect trip for the curious traveler who wants to see the magic of the Amazonian jungle, learn about indigenous communities, and experience history in the UNESCO-listed city of Quito. Zipline between trees through the rainforest, drink Wayusa with the Kichwa locals and shop for local crafts at the Otavalo Market.

Explore the bays and beaches of Isla Isabela by luxury catamaran yacht
Map of Ecuador's Luxe Trio: Andean Highlands, Cloud Forests, & the Galápagos - 14 Days
Ecuador's Luxe Trio: Andean Highlands, Cloud Forests, & the Galápagos - 14 Days

Explore three of Ecuador's most wondrous ecosystems on this two-week jaunt across the country. First up are the Andean highlands, home to snowcapped volcanoes, crater lakes, Indigenous culture, and Spanish colonial history in the capital of Quito. Then venture into the misty cloud forests of the Mashpi Reserve, where you'll spend your days on nature hikes and birding before hopping aboard a luxury cruiser for five days amid the beauty and wildlife of the Galápagos.

Jose Rivas refuge on the slopes of Cotopaxi
Map of Hiking in Ecuador's Highlands - 11 Days
Hiking in Ecuador's Highlands - 11 Days

Experience the rugged beauty of the Ecuadorian Andes firsthand and hike through the country's most famous active and dormant volcanoes on this 11-day itinerary. Get your bearings in Quito, exploring the capital city's historic center, before taking on high-altitude hikes in Antisana National Park and Cotopaxi National Park, among other reserves. Visit crater lakes and frosty peaks before spending a day unwinding in Papallacta's hot springs.

Hike the national parks and highlands of Ecuador
Map of Ecuador Multi-Sport Adventure in the Highlands - 11 Days
Ecuador Multi-Sport Adventure in the Highlands - 11 Days

Experience 11 days of adrenaline sports and adventure against the backdrop of Ecuador's most stunning natural highlights. Check off the key sites in Quito, and explore Cotopaxi National Park on foot and horseback. Trek to the turquoise waters of Quilotoa Lagoon, rappel down waterfalls in the canyons of Baños, and summit the crater volcano of Fuya Fuya, then celebrate your achievements and soothe your tired muscles with a soak in the hot springs of Papallacta.

Volcano in Ecuador
Map of Ecuador Cities & Volcanoes: Quito to Cotopaxi - 12 Days
Ecuador Cities & Volcanoes: Quito to Cotopaxi - 12 Days

Visit the cities and volcanoes of beautiful Ecuador on this 12-day adventure. Start in the nation's capital, exploring its well-preserved colonial center and other cultural highlights. Then, head out on a busy tour through small towns like Cotacachi, enjoying several indigenous markets and villages along the way. You will also check off wondrous volcanoes like Pasachoa and Cotopaxi, as well as the unique paramo ecosystem of Chimborazo. The final leg of the trip takes you to Ecuador's lovely third city, Cuenca, before going full circle and ending in Quito again.

Feel the freedom of the open road as you navigate through Ecuador
Map of Ecuador Road Trip From North to South: Quito, Cotopaxi & Baños - 12 Days
Ecuador Road Trip From North to South: Quito, Cotopaxi & Baños - 12 Days

Get ready for adventure as you drive through Ecuador from north to south, making your way from high-altitude Quito to coastal Guayaquil. With the freedom to go at your own pace, start where the world divides in Quito and explore the base of an active 19,347-foot (5,897 m) volcano at Cotopaxi National Park. Swing over the "End of the World" in Baños de Agua Santa, and walk through a city with four rivers in Cuenca, ending your trip in Guayaquil as you return to sea level.

See the majestic birds and butterflies that are Ecuador natives
Map of Ecuador Exploration: Quito & Central Andes  - 12 Days
Ecuador Exploration: Quito & Central Andes - 12 Days

Discover Ecuador's high-altitude volcanic landscapes, vibrant markets, and urban energy on this 12-day tour. In Quito, ride a cable car for views above one of the highest cities in the world, and shop for essential ingredients to make the country's flavorful dishes. Hike around a volcano in Cotopaxi National Park and soak in mineral-rich waters and swing over "The End of the World" in Baños de Agua Santa. End with a chocolate tour in Mindo to take home a sweet Ecuador souvenir.

Drive past a sheep farm near Chimborazo volcano
Map of Road Trip Through Ecuador - 13 Days
Road Trip Through Ecuador - 13 Days

Hit the road for this exciting self-drive adventure through Ecuador. The 13-day itinerary begins when you pick up your rental car at Quito's airport. Take side trips to Mitad del Mundo and Papallacta before continuing to the famous Otavalo Market to shop for handicrafts. Drive to Cotopaxi National Park and Baños for hikes and outdoor activities, then finish with sightseeing in Cuenca and coastal Guayaquil.

"Chagras" Cowboys in Cotopaxi National Park
Map of Trekking in Ecuador's Highlands: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, & More - 14 Days
Trekking in Ecuador's Highlands: Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, & More - 14 Days

Spend two weeks exploring mountainous landscapes in a country that's equally famous for its volcanoes and rainforest. From Quito's colonial city center to the high-elevation hacienda refuge on Cotopaxi, you'll trek through historic sites and stunning nature. Spot rare Andean condors, haggle for goods at a mountain market, summit volcanoes, and more. 

Dancers in Ecuadorian traditional dress
Map of Mainland Ecuador for Families: Andes to the Amazon - 14 Days
Mainland Ecuador for Families: Andes to the Amazon - 14 Days

Compact but diverse, Ecuador is a perfect destination for an epic two-week family vacation. This fun-filled itinerary begins and ends in Quito, with adventures in the Andean highlands and the Amazon rainforest in between. Along the way, you'll keep the kids busy as you horseback ride at a hacienda in Cotopaxi National Park, brave suspension bridges over the waterfalls of Baños, spot monkeys and capybaras at your jungle ecolodge, and barter with the locals at the colorful markets of Otavalo.

A greeting committee awaits at your historic lodgings in Cotopaxi (photo courtesy of Hacienda San Agustín de Callo)
Map of Luxury Getaway to Ecuador's Peaks, Plains & Rainforests - 14 Days
Luxury Getaway to Ecuador's Peaks, Plains & Rainforests - 14 Days

Spend two weeks in Ecuador walking amid history, hiking national parks, exploring the Amazon, taking cooking classes, and more. Explore Quito's colonial landmarks and snack on decadent Ecuadorian chocolate, followed by a trip to the famous Indigenous market in Otavalo and hikes around the snowcapped cone of Cotopaxi volcano. After the highlands, fly to the Amazon for a few days of rainforest adventures, then conclude with stops in Spanish colonial Cuenca and farm tours near the coast.

Explore the Ecuadorian Amazon by canoe
Map of Ecuador's Pacific Coast to the Andes & Amazon - 15 Days
Ecuador's Pacific Coast to the Andes & Amazon - 15 Days

Ecuador boasts a wide variety of geographical regions, each with its own distinct landscapes and ecosystems. Spend 15 days exploring the country from the shores of the Isla de la Plata to the verdant rainforests of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. Along the way, you'll hike past volcanoes, crater lakes, and Inca ruins in the highlands and visit some of Ecuador's largest cities, like Guayaquil and Quito.

Pichincha volcano is just one of the three volcanoes you'll hike
Map of Hiking & Culture in Ecuador: Volcanoes, Lakes & Ancient Ruins - 16 Days
Hiking & Culture in Ecuador: Volcanoes, Lakes & Ancient Ruins - 16 Days

Strike out on an adventure across Ecuador's most famous regions, from the highlands to the Amazon rainforest. It begins in Quito with a tour of the capital's UNESCO-listed colonial center and cultural monuments before hiking to waterfalls, lakes, and volcanoes in the highland Cotopaxi region. Then, explore awe-inspiring pre-Incan ruins before rounding out the adventure with canoe rides and nature hikes in the pristine Amazon forests at Yasuní National Park.

The colorful neighborhoods of Guayaquil
Map of Culture, Nature & Wildlife in Ecuador: From the Pacific to the Highlands & Into the Amazon - 16 Days
Culture, Nature & Wildlife in Ecuador: From the Pacific to the Highlands & Into the Amazon - 16 Days

Ecuador delivers massive doses of natural beauty and rich culture. Dive deep into both on this 16-day journey, starting on the coast, from the tree-lined waterfront in Guayaquil to the mangroves of ecological reserves. After exploring the coast, travel inland to see ruins, colonial landmarks, and national parks around Cuenca, then venture into the Amazon to visit native villages and enjoy rainforest adventures before winding up in Quito to browse the historic Otavalo Market.

Baby Alpaca
Map of Multi Country South America Adventure: Ecuador & Peru - 14 Days
Multi Country South America Adventure: Ecuador & Peru - 14 Days

Experience the best of Ecuador's mainland and Peru's highlights on this two-week trip. Start in Quito to tour the UNESCO-designated city center, then head to the Amazon for cultural experiences with the Kichwa indigenous community, wildlife viewing, and a peaceful rainforest atmosphere. Return to Quito by way of Cotopaxi National Park, home to the eponymous volcano. Then, catch a flight to Lima—the urban hub of Peru. End the trip with a visit to Cusco's pre-Inca ruins and a tour of the Sacred Valley and imperial Machu Picchu residence.

Cuicocha Lagoon
Map of Ecuador Mountains to Coast: Andes, Quito, Cotopaxi, & More - 10 Days
Ecuador Mountains to Coast: Andes, Quito, Cotopaxi, & More - 10 Days

From Quito's colonial center to the volcanoes of Cotopaxi National Park, explore the best of Ecuador's mainland on this packed 10-day itinerary. Hike along the rim of volcanic lagoons, barter for Ecuadorian handicrafts at markets, and visit small mountain villages. You'll see cascading waterfalls, lush orchid farms, high altitude plateaus, and much more as you traverse the countryside.

Wildlife in the Galapagos
Map of Ecuador Highlights: Quito & the Galapagos - 6 Days
Ecuador Highlights: Quito & the Galapagos - 6 Days

See the highlights of Quito and the Galapagos Islands on this short itinerary. Start out in the city, touring the capital and its surrounding region to experience local history and culture. You'll see colonial architecture, visit an indigenous market, and try traditional cuisine. From here, catch a short flight to the Galapagos Islands. These famed islands provided Charles Darwin with the research and inspiration for his Theory of Evolution, and boast endemic species such as the blue-footed booby, marine iguanas, and giant tortoises.

Sea Lions Playing
Map of Best of Ecuador: Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest, & the Galapagos Islands - 10 Days
Best of Ecuador: Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest, & the Galapagos Islands - 10 Days

Ecuador is famous for many ecological and cultural highlights, and you'll get to visit two—Quito and the Galapagos Islands—on this 10-day itinerary. Start in Quito to tour the colonial city center, hike to volcanic lagoons, and explore the biodiversity of the Mindo Cloud Forest.  Continue the trip with a flight to the Galapagos, where you'll spend four days relaxing on sunny beaches, visiting uninhabited islands, and looking for rare and endemic animals. 

Local Quito store
Map of Ecuador History, Culture & Nature: Quito & Surroundings - 5 Days
Ecuador History, Culture & Nature: Quito & Surroundings - 5 Days

This short but extensive itinerary brings you into the very heart of the Ecuadorian capital and its surroundings. You will tour Quito's beautifully preserved historic center to see fine examples of colonial architecture, learn about history and culture at the Ethnographic Museum, and enjoy the best panoramic view of the city. The adventure continues north of Quito in Otavalo and Cotacachi, renowned for their local crafts. Finally, take a day-trip to Cotopaxi National Park—its namesake volcano is one of Ecuador's most famous natural landmarks.

Savor Ecuador's world famous chocolate on a cacao tasting
Map of Luxury Trip Through Ecuador's Culture & Gastronomy: Quito & the Amazon - 7 Days
Luxury Trip Through Ecuador's Culture & Gastronomy: Quito & the Amazon - 7 Days

As exciting as it is to explore Ecuador's limitless natural wonders, its history and Indigenous culture are equally rewarding. That's exactly what you'll do over seven days, starting with luxury tours of Quito's Spanish-colonial Old Town, followed by an Ecuadorian chocolate-tasting experience. Then, you're off to the Amazon to visit native communities before sampling Ecuadorian fine dining and finishing the adventure with relaxing soaks in natural hot springs.

Other popular travel destinations in Ecuador
Quito · Baños · Cotopaxi · Guayaquil · Cuenca · The Amazon · Riobamba · Yasuni National Park · Papallacta · Tena · Quilotoa · Mindo · Archidona · Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve · Isinliví · Cacha · Lago Agrio