Otavalo Market (main market is on Saturdays)
After breakfast, you explore the heart of Otavalo. This colorful town has about 50.000 inhabitants and is the capital of the canton of the same name. This village is world-famous for its indigenous population, the ‘Otavaleños’, of which many travel around the world to sell their famous handicrafts or play in Andean folk music groups. The Otavaleños are considered the economically most successful indigenous group of Latin America. You visit Plaza de Los Ponchos, to admire a rainbow of textiles; blankets, scarfs, sweaters, and of course the typical ponchos. Also beautiful leather bags, jewelry, carpets, and other handmade items can be found at the largest artisanal market in South America.
Cotacachi & Cuicocha Lake
In the charming town of Cotacachi, you can find a varietyof shops where top quality leather products, such as wallets, purses, belts, bags, and shoes are sold for friendly prices. Then, you continue to Cuicocha, a beautiful lake created 2000 years ago when the volcano with the same name erupted.Fun fact: Cuicocha means guinea pig in the Quichua language (the small islands in the lake are shaped like a guinea pig).
Next, you head to the small village of Peguche for a unique cultural experience. ‘Pachamanka’ is a tradition originating from the Inca era. In the Quichua language ‘Pacha’ means Earth and ‘Manka’ cooking pan. During this ritual, hot volcanic rocks with vegetables, fruit, and vegetables are placed in a hole in the soil. This is covered with cabbage leaves and a blanked which is then covered with earth. This pure, traditional dish contains: potatoes, yams, melloco, beans, corncob, carrots, beets, banana, cabbage, and chicken and is served with chili sauce, cheese sauce, and a seasonal drink (for example lemonade, tea, or chicha). As dessert, you can enjoy a delicious smoked pineapple. While the food is slowly cooked the earth is decorated with flowers and turned into a spiritual Andeanaltar.
The ceremony and lunch takes about two hours. While the food is cooking, you visit the surroundings of Peguche like the sacred waterfall and, if time allows, an Andean music workshop. Then, you return to the Pachamanka site to healthy and natural lunch. In the afternoon, you visit the Condor Park, located close to San Pablo Lake, in the outskirts of Otavalo. Here, you can observe condors and other birds that are rescued from illegal captivity were found wounded. At the Condor Park, they can recover in peace until they are ready to be released, if possible. None of the birds were taken directly from nature.