Otavalo is a small city with only 27,500 inhabitants but
with an impressive amount of economic activity. The population is
mostly indigenous. The town lies at 2,530 meters altitude in a valley
with a continual springtime like climate. Otavalo is nestled between
the Imbabura volcano (4,609 m) and the Cotacachi volcano (4,939 m).
Otavalo is the site of the most famous Indian market in Ecuador, located in the Plaza de Ponchos on the streets of Sucre and Juan de Salinas. Although the market is biggest on Saturdays, you can visit it on any day of the week and find an impressive variety of handmade items from all over Ecuador. People come from small towns and communities nearby, such as Peguche, Agato and Iluman, to sell their products. You can visit the workshops of the local weavers and watch them making their different woven goods.
The festival of Yamor is very important in the community
and is one of the most colorful folkloric festivals in the country.
Cotacachi is famous for its numerous and quality leather shops, its
indigenous and mixed blood culture, the colonial architecture of its
main plaza and side streets and its carnes coloradas (red meats),
a typical food from this town. A major natural attraction nearby from
Cotacachi is volcanic lake Cuicocha. The vistas here are incredible,
and, on a clear day, the lake water is intensely blue.
The most important festivals of Cotacachi are the Jora
Festival in September, the Voyage of Cuicocha in July and Inti Raymi
Cayambe is famous for its sprawling dairy farms and agricultural
production. Onions, beans and potatos are mainstay crops. Recently,
decorative flowers such as roses have become the main source of income
in the Cayambe valley.
The snowcapped volcano Mt. Cayambe dominates its namesake valley.
The glaciers of this mountain are easily accessible by four wheel
drive vehicle and is an unforgettable adventure.
At the culinary level, Cayambe is famous for its bizcochos
(shortbread), made of wheat flour and served with hot chocolate and
locally made "leaf cheese."