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Otavalo, Ecuador - Market Starts Early On Saturday Morning At 5am

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Map location: Otavalo, Ecuador
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Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - June 2009   » View Photoset (37 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
From Latacunga I began a 2 or so hour bus journey up to Quito where I planned to immediately find another bus north to Otavalo for the Saturday markets. At the bus terminal in Quito it was easy to find a bus to Otavalo that was leaving soon. Especially because of the markets on the next day.

Bus from Quito

Heading north out of the Quito area took quite a while but eventually I started to see street signs that read 'Otavalo, Ibarra, Tulcan'. On this bus I met Nina from Austria, we both had the same idea about visiting the Otavalo markets and decided to be travel buddies for a few days!

Find a Hostel

After arriving in Otavalo on Friday afternoon and finding a hostel and having a meal, we walked around the street market in the main square where they sold clothing, warm woolen hats, hammocks, arts and crafts, jewelry, wristbands, beads, musical intruments, wall-hangings and much more. Otavalo is a tidy, nice and peaceful place with yummy food and a good vibe.

Animal Market at 5am

The Otavalo animal market starts early on Saturday morning at about 5am. We decided to get there by about 6:30am. When we arrived it was all in full swing with a lot of buying and selling of mainly chickens and guinea pigs. There were several places where locals sat and ate pork, chicken, rice, corn, empanadas and other interesting looking foods. Chicken and pork is the main meat (carne) eaten here. If you are extremely sensitive to the sight of chickens being held by their legs upside down, being put into sacks etc, it may not be a market for you. So basically all the locals buy live chickens, show them off to their family and friends and carry them home to become a meal.

The Indigenous Locals

The locals are very colorful people with the way they dress. The woman and men both wear traditional clothing and a lot of the children too.

Around the Town

We were here for about 2 hours before deciding to head back into the center of town for the main street markets to find things to spend our $$$ on. On the short walk back to the center we saw a dvd shop, a woman with a chicken, some herbs and spices, ready to eat watermelon and pineapple, pieces of chicken, shoes, yummy sugar donuts, warm clothing and dream-catchers, did I mention chicken?. For the rest of the day we wandered around the streets of Otavalo, stall after stall looking at all the wonderful things for sale. Seeing tablecloths, dolls, wristbands, beads, bags, jackets, figurines, wool, fruit and vegetables, hot corn and bananas, pork, meat, yes chicken, fresh fish, pastas, grains, jelly and juices! It was a fantastic day spent in a beautiful place and setting.

Local Musicians

That night we ate a great meal at the restaurant in the lower part of our hostel and listened to the live music of a great local band who come in every night to play. It's a family of 5 guys. They sing, play guitars and wooden pipes. I bought their CD.

Peguche Waterfall

The next morning we decided to catch a bus a few kms to Cascada de Peguche (waterfall) which is close to Laguna San Pablo (lagoon). It is a quick and peaceful walk to the waterfall, the spray came across the bridge we stood on as we viewed the fall. I took some photos and posed and we made the way back to Otavalo, the bus cost 18 cents each way.

Bus to Mitad del Mundo and Puerto Lopez

We decided at that point that after lunch we would hit the road and take a bus back to Quito so that we could get an overnight bus to Puerto Lopez out on the west coast for some sun, sand and surf. We stopped at Mitad del Mundo on the way south to Quito.


View all photos in the Otavalo Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Otavalo, Ecuador:

Hostal Mi Otavalito, Otavalo, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Mi Otavalito, Otavalo, Ecuador (Jun 2009 - 2 nights) - Beautiful decor and atmosphere here, nice rooms, restaurant and music downstairs, run by some very nice people, it's central.

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Otavalo, Ecuador - Market Starts Early On Saturday Morning At 5am. Famous for it's animal market on Saturdays, but also full of arts and crafts. Otavalo is located in a beautiful part of the country and there is lots to do in the area!