North from Quito to the border with Colombia is an area of great natural beauty and cultural interest. The landscape is mountainous, with views of Cotacachi, Imbabura, Chiles and glacier-covered Cayambe, interspersed with lakes. This is also a region renowned for its artesanía. Countless villages specialize in their own particular craft, be it textiles, hats, woodcarvings, bread figures or leather goods. And, of course, there is Otavalo, with its outstanding market, a must on everyone’s itinerary.
Home to what may be the largest and most-visited indigenous craft market in South America, Otavalo on a Saturday morning is an unforgettable experience. A plethora of crafts fills the streets: paintings, jewellery, weavings, baskets, leather goods, hats, wood carvings, ceramics, antiques and almost anything else you can think of, from all over Ecuador and beyond. There are plenty of crafts for sale on other days of the week too, when Otavalo is less crowded and the atmosphere is more relaxed.