How to get to Otavalo

From Quito...

Coming from the Carcelén terminal north of Quito take the Cooperativa Otavalo or the Cooperativa Los Lagos bus that will bring you to Otavalo.  From here you can take a taxi to wherever you want to go in the city.  The trip from Quito to Otavalo is $2.50. The taxi cost to anywhere in the city is $1.25.

General Information about Otavalo

The Otavalo canton is located in the Imbabura province, in the northern region of Ecuador.  It is 528 square kilometers.  It is located 110 kilometers (2 hours) north of Quito.

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

Population: 90,188 inhabitants (43,368 men and 46,820 women). The urban sector is represented by 44.3 % and 55.7 % in the rural sector.

Official language: Spanish and Kichwa

Currency: Northamerican dollar

Religion: There is freedon of worship but the inhabitants are predominately Catholic.

Altitude and climate: There are differences in altitude from 1,100 m.a.s.l. in the Selva Alegre area up to 4,700 m.a.s.l. in the Imbabura hill. The average temperature is 14 degrees centigrade.


The city of Otavalo is located 110 kilometers north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador; seated in an ample valley, whose area is 82.10 square kilometers, an altitude of  2,565 m.a.s.l. It is surrounded by the Imbabura volcano, the Fuya Fuya mountain and the hills of Cotama and Rey Loma.


  • Incan invasion at the end of the XV century and the first 25 years of the XVI century.
  • Sebastián de Benalcázar was established in 1534, having the patron saint San Luis.
  • In 1673, the original Otavalo city was moved the new settlement (current city).
  • In 1580 the Obraje(Workshop)  Mayor of Otavalo was founded and in Peguche since 1613.
  • On November 11th, 1811 the seat of Otavalo was raised to the category of town hall.
  • Otavalo was cannonized on June 25th, 1824 by General Francisco de Paula Santander.
  • Otavalo was elevated to the category of city through a decree given by the Liberator Simón Bolívar on October 31st, 1829.
  • On August 16th, 1868, an earthquake occurred in Ibarra.  Because of its proximity, Otavlo suffered severe results as well.
  • The train arrived in 1918 travelling as far as San Rafael
  • The Yamor Festival began in 1952..
  • The electric service was inagurated on March 24th, 1913 in the city of Otavalo.  Tomás and Able Pinto made this improvement possible.


The population is concentrated in the urban area with 41,000 habitantes (44.3% of the canton population), indigenous, mestizos and a small percentage of afro Ecuadorians. The first are dedicated, especially, to the production and commercialization of artisan textiles while the second and third carry out activities in stores, businesses and different professions such as transportation and tourist services among others.

Wardrobe of the Otavalo Kichwa town

The traditional indigenous vestiment has its own characteristics in Otavalo.  The men use white shirts and pants, blue ponchos and traditional sandals.  The women dress in white blouses embroidered with different colors and patterns, blue or black skirts, wide belts and shawls over the blouses.  Every piece has symbolic value.

Parishes and Communities

The jurisdiction of Otavalo is made up of 9 rural parishes: 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 areas: San Luis y El Jordán.

In the 9 parishes and their respective communities reside 55.7% of the population of the entire canton (90,188 inhabitants). The rural area is 426.37 quare kilometers.