Otavalo and Surrounding Countryside
For most tourists, Otavalo’s highlight is the daily handicraft market on Plaza de Los Ponchos, where skillful native merchants wait for you to play the game of bargaining on alpaca sweaters, ponchos, hammocks, pan flutes, and other souvenirs. This region is famous for its woven textiles.
Also, every Saturday the provincial town of Otavalo fills up with the bustling and best-known street market of Ecuador. It is a commercial and social meeting place. Besides crafts, clothing, and household items, exotic fruits, vegetables, species, and meat are traded. In the early morning cattle market, you can even find guinea pigs (a local delicacy!).
Lunchtime will be a gastronomical and cultural experience, where you will get involved hands-on in preparing typical local delicacies. The activity will include the tasting of chicha de Jora, an ancestral and sacred drink; typical attire; a visit to the family's garden; the local ingredients for the preparation of all the dishes as well as an explanation; and the most enjoyable part of all: eating the meals you prepared!
After lunch, you will get to enjoy live traditional Ecuadorian music. The highlands region of Ecuador is home to a style of music called Sanjuanito, as well as a few others. The music of the people from Otavalo is well-known worldwide. A small panpipe called rondador is the most distinctive instrument, but ensembles are typically groups of wind instruments, guitar trios, or brass bands. Folk rhythms include cachullapi, yumbo, and danzante. In this short presentation, you will learn about them, as well as enjoy some popular local songs.
Before closing the day, you will enjoy the sights of Cuicocha crater lake. It was created when its former cone collapsed during the latest violent eruption (about 3,000 years ago). Entering the rim, you are suddenly surrounded by the enormous bowl of the remaining caldera. You can notice both newly-born islets in the middle of the emerald lake, in which its alkaline waters support very little wildlife.
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