The Northern Andes has what it takes for a unique and special voyage: from incredible views, quaint towns, indigenous communities and colorful markets, natural reserves, and flower plantations. The province of Imbabura is best known for the fascinating market and craft fair at Otavalo, one of Ecuador's tourism hot-spots. In fact, this quaint and industrious little town is just the tip of the 'must-see' iceberg in terms of the remarkable natural and cultural attractions that Imbabura has to offer. Its people are warm and diverse, talented and deeply proud of ancestral traditions. Kleintours will take you on that embracing journey into this truly multidimensional destination, to live out an experience of a lifetime.
What to bring: Dress in layers with comfortable clothes, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent.
Guayllabamba Valley: 18 miles (29km) northeast of Quito is the agricultural valley of Guayllabamba known for its fruits like cherimoya, avocado, lemon and other.
Cayambe: 48 miles (78 km) northeast of Quito home to the third-highest peak of Ecuador and the highest point in the world on the equator. Due to the great weather conditions and its privileged location, this area is ideal for flower plantations, especially rose plantations. It’s also known for its home made cheese and bizcochos, a truly delicious evening snack.
Rose Plantations: Ecuadorian flowers are world renown because of their high quality and are exported mainly to the United States, Russia, Canada, and the Netherlands. This industry employs at least 600,000 people. At the farm discover the different colors of roses. You will learn about the cultivations process until they are ready to export.
San Pablo lagoon: 55 miles (89 km) from Quito, at the foot of Mount Imbabura; small indigenous communities live all around and you can see them fishing early in the morning or washing their clothes during the day. You can take a boat ride around the lagoon and enjoy water sports like Jet Ski.
Peguche Village: About 57 miles (92 km) north of Quito there’s the indigenous Kichwa community of Peguche, famous for its textiles and Andean musical instruments. Enjoy a delicious lunch prepared in the traditional way, using only firewood for cooking to preserve the original taste. In this cozy environment you will also enjoy live Andean music played with traditional instruments like charango, drums and flutes. Passengers can also observe the weaving process for which this town is famous. Visit a workshop where many different Andean instruments are made, and learn about them all. One of them is called bocina, which is made of bull horn and bamboo cane and its sound could be heard for 1 mile.
Condor Park: At this wildlife refuge and educational center vultures, condors and other birds of prey are rehabilitated. Twice a day there are public exhibits when it’s possible to see some of the birds flying. The park offers close encounter with birds that are in a reintroduction process. You can learn about techniques related to bird training, growing and caring.
Otavalo:59 miles (94 km), about 2 ½ hours north of Quito there is Ecuador’s most famous indigenous market which is comprised of a mosaic of colors, ethnic groups and crafts and offers shoppers superb bargains for fine textiles, paintings, ceramic ware, Panama hats, and an incredibly fun market experience. The crafts fair takes place every day on the main plaza, Plaza de Ponchos, but it’s on Saturday when it gets busier.The Otavaleños (people from Otavalo) have received world recognition for their weaving and craftsmanship.
Cotacachi:About 68 miles (110 km) from Quito. Town famous for its leatherwork where you can find a variety of leather articles such as bags, jackets, hats, gloves and belts. At 11 miles (18 km) west it’s located the Cuicocha Lagoon located at the foot of the Cotacachi volcano, it has in the middle two islands covered with vegetation and an impressive landscape of deep blue waters surrounded by hills.
San Antonio de Ibarra: About 64 miles (104 km) from Quito. Small village near Ibarra where everyone is in the business of carving wooden items. These items are sold in small shops around the village.
Ibarra: 70 miles (112km) north of Quito.A picturesque place to relax. It’s also known as the “White City” because of its whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets. Typical products include arrope de mora (blackberry syrup) nogadas, and helados de paila (handmade sherbet). At the train station you can take the “Chaski Antawa” train towards the valley of Salinas.
Salinas - Chaski Antawa Train: About 18 miles (30 km) of Ibarra. This valley takes its name because of the large amount of salt content soils, is surrounded by farms and sugar cane plantation. Experience the Chaski Antawa train that will take you from Ibarra to the Afro-Ecuadorian valley of Salinas in a two-hour ride. Enjoy a traditional lunch and visit the Salt Museum which has been implemented to show the process in obtaining salt, the way of living of Salinas’ ancestors, and learn about the different community projects.
Magdalena Karanki Community: Located at about 3100 meters above sea level, once home to Atahualpa, the last of the Incan emperors, inhabits a paradise lost in time amongst peaceful mountains and the patchwork slopes of Imbabura Volcano. It is immersed in this remarkably breathtaking pastoral setting that the Karanki have kept for centuries, tending to their livestock, cultivating their land and enjoying the clear mountain air.Come and admire the beauty of their embroidery, share their everyday shepherding and harvesting activities and stand face-to-face with a people untouched by the urgencies of modern life.