INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES & CULTURE
The great majority of inhabitants of Cotacachi and Otavalo districts are indigenous people of various Kichua ethnic groups. The best way to get to know and learn about indigenous culture is a home stay with an indigenous family or a tour through indigenous communities.
Cuicocha is one of the most beautiful lakes in Ecuador. It is a volcanic caldera and at its centre there are lava domes forming two little islands covered by native forest. Lake Cuicocha is the southern limit of the vast Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. The best way to explore the lake is the loop hike along the crater rim.
The region around Otavalo and Cotacachi is known internationally for the quality and variety of its handicrafts. Besides the famous market Plaza de Ponchos in Otavalo we recommend visiting handicrafts workshops in the rural villages to learn more about how the different handicrafts are made.
Taita (“Father”) Imbabura is an important figure in the indigenous mythology and the protector of the whole region. With its 4.610m (15.125ft) altitude and its impressive size, it is the dominant landmark in the south of the province to which it gave its name. Imbabura can be climbed in one day and makes a perfect acclimatization hike for higher peaks in Ecuador.
LAGUNAS MOJANDA & FUYA FUYA
Located 18km (12mi.) south of Otavalo City on the border to Pichincha Province, the páramo grasslands and native forests surrounding Mojanda Lakes and Fuya Fuya Mountain are ideal sites for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities. Climbing Fuya Fuya will give you amazing views over surrounding peaks, some of them snow-covered.
Peguche waterfall is a sacred site for the indigenous population and every year during the Sun Festival Inti Raymi hundreds of people take a ritual bath in its waters. It is located near the city of Otavalo within a forest of giant eucalyptus trees. Due to its importance in indigenous mythology we visit the waterfall during some of our cultural tours.
With its 4.939m (16.200ft), the peak of Cotacachi Volcano is the highest point in Imbabura Province. On its top there is a little glacier whose meltwater feeds into Lake Cuicocha. In the indigenous mythology “Mama Cotacachi” is the wife of “Taita Imbabura”. Climbing Cotacachi is one of the most beautiful hikes in the whole region.
No matter if you like hiking and mountain climbing, horse riding or mountain biking, the mountains, valleys, lakes and forests around Otavalo and Cotacachi are a real paradise for outdoor and adventure sports enthusiasts.
SAN PABLO LAKE
San Pablo Lake is the biggest in Imbabura Province and surrounded by the mountains Imbabura, Mojanda and Cusin. On the lake shores there are large areas of totora reed grass, which is used for handicraft production in nearby villages that we visit on one of our community tours.
LECHERO TREE & PARQUE DEL CONDOR
The Lechero Tree is a sacred site for the indigenous population with beautiful views over the town of Otavalo and Lake San Pablo. Close by is the rescue centre for birds of prey “Parque del Condor” with daily flight shows. Both sites can be easily reached from Otavalo by taxi or our private transportion service.