How do I get to Otavalo?

From Quito...

Going from the Carcelen terminal north of Quito, take a Cooperativa Otavalo or Cooperativa Los Lagos bus that will bring you to the Otavalo terminal from where you can take a taxi to whatever point you want in the city. The passage for Quito-Otavalo is $2.50 USD. The taxi cost within the city is $1.25 USD.

General Information for Otavalo

Otavalo canton is located in the Imbabura province in the northern region of Ecuador.  It has an area of 528 square kilometers. It can be found 110 kilometers (2 hours) north of Quito.

Borders: Cantons Cotacachi, Antonio Ante and Ibarra border the north.  The southern border has the Quito canton (Pichincha).  To the east are the cantons Ibarra and Cayambe (Pichincha) and to the west are cantons Quito and Cotacachi (Pichincha).

Population: 90,188 habitants (43,368 men and  46,820 women). 44.3 % of the population sits in the urban sector with the remaining 55.7% in the rural sector.

Official language: Spanish and kichwa

Currency: Northamerican dollar

Religion: There exists a liberty of religion but Catholicism is predominant.

Altitude and climate: There are different altitudes, from 1,100 m.a.s.l. in the Selva Alegre zone to 4,700 m.a.s.l. in the Imbabura mountain.  The median temperature is 14 degrees centigrade.


The city of Otavalo is located 110 kilometers north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador; sitting in a spacious valley, whose area is 8,210 square kilometers, an altitude of 2,565 m.a.s.l.  It is surrounded by the Imbabura volcano, Fuya Fuya mountain and the Cotama and Rey Loma hills.


  • Incan invasion at the end of the 15th century through the first 25 years of the 16th century.
  • Sebastián de Benalcázar founded in 1534, having the patron saint San Luis.
  • In 1673 the new Otavalo site was founded (current metropolis).
  • In 1580 the Major Works of Otavalo began to function and in Peguche since 1613.
  • On November 11th, 1811 the seat of Otavalo was raised to the category Villa.
  • Otavalo was cantonized on the 25th of June, 1824 by General Francisco of Paula Santander.
  • Otavalo was elevated to the category City, by means of a decree sent out by the Liberator Simón Bolívar, on October 31, 1829.
  • On the 16th of August, 1868 an earthquake occurred in Ibarra; because Otavalo is nearby it resulted in being severely affected.
  • In 1918 the train arrived from San Rafael.
  • The Festival of Yamor began in 1952.
  • On March 24th, 1913, the electric energy services began in Otavalo. The work was propelled by the brothers Tomás and Abel Pinto.


The population that is concentrated in the Otavalan metropolis is 41,000 habitants, (44,3 % of the cantonal population) indigenous, mixed race and a minimum percent of African Ecuadorians. The first are dedicated, especially, to the production and commercialization of handcrafted textiles,while the second and third practice activities in stores, grocery stores, and different professions, transportation, tourist services, among others.

Clothing of the kichwa Otavalo town.

The traditional indigenous attire has its own characteristics in Otavalo.  The men use white shirts and pants, blue ponchos, hats and sandals. The women dress in white blouses embroidered with different colors and patterns, blue or black skirts, wide woven belts and small scarves over their blouses. Each piece has symbolic value.

Parrishes and Communities

The jurisdiction of Otavalo is made up of 9 rural parrishes: San Pablo del Lago, González Suárez, San Rafael de la Laguna, Eugenio Espejo, Quichinche, Miguel Egas Cabezas, Ilumán, Selva Alegre, San Pedro de Pataquí  and two urban parrishes: San Luis and El Jordán.

In the 9 rural parrishes and its respective communities reside 55.7% of the total population of the canton (90,188 habitantes). The territorial area of the rural zone is  42,637 square kilometers.