The people of the Andes in their ponchos and hats from thriving communities, present their wares at the market in a colourful spectacle

Ecuador is famous for hand-woven textiles, leather goods, native paintings and Otavalo north of Quito has the most famous market. The women wear embroidered blouses, and smart blue skirts and shawls. The men sport immaculate white trousers, blue ponchos and long ponytails.

It’s a great experience to get lost in the colourful chaos of the huge open-air Saturday market and a really joy (and skill) for both sides to bargain over the exquisite locals crafts. Stalls are piled high with ponchos, woollen goods, tapestries, the original ‘Panama hat’ which is actually Ecuadorian, sweaters and Indian jewellery.

We’d suggest at least a couple of days stay in the area. Dotted around the town are many small country inns and haciendas overlooking the snow-capped mountains and run by friendly local families. From here spend days walking and horse riding in the stunning countryside.

Like markets? Each province has its own such as Saquisili, Pujili and Zumbahua that exhibit local flavours.

Authentic Amerindian culture

When to go: All year round

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A Tennant

"The guides were very knowledgeable and very good company"

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