Jul 14, 2018 | Written by Patricia Murphy

Ecuador Day 1: Otavalo Market

I adore Ecuador! That quickly became my refrain during our 17 day trip. From the very beginning the people charmed us, the food fulfilled us, and the dogs snuggled us. I can’t recommend this trip highly enough.

We started day one with coffee and breakfast at our hotel. We chose Boutique Hotel Mansion del Angel as our full-time lodging for seven nights in Quito partially because we liked the location–in between the historic city center, and the more modern north end of town that had the shops and restaurants we wanted to frequent. Our rooms were lovely, and we had a large sitting area where we could have tea in the afternoon and play cards.

We booked our charming guide Victor Alban after we read about his services on TripAdvisor. He was so friendly and we really enjoyed chatting with him about his family, his life in Ecuador, and the local culture. He was prompt and knowledgeable and so kind.

Everyone knows I love a market, so I made sure we got to the Saturday session in Otavalo, which we had read was the biggest and the best. Otavalo is populated by about 40,000 people, mostly indigenous workers who are famous for making textiles and crafts. The Otavalo Market did not disappoint: spices, fruits, vegetables, lunch stands, blankets, clothing, and sweet treats were all abundant as we wandered through the stalls. We had been warned of pickpockets, but instead we found smiles and free samples. We had a great time browsing.

Next Victor took us to Cotacachi, which is known for its leather production. We had a lovely traditional lunch at El Lenador, then browsed the tiled sidewalks of the small, sleepy town.

After some tea and a rest back at the hotel, We made our way to URKO Cocina Local–our big splurge meal of the trip. We started with a tour of the rooftop garden where they cultivate many of their fresh ingredients. After three courses upstairs, the main dinner was in the downstairs dining room. The portions were perfect for a long evening of tasting. The plates were each artfully crafted and very flavorful.

Soon it was time to Uber back to our hotel. It took about ten minutes and cost about $2. We would Uber most everywhere for the rest of our time in Quito.