As one of the continents' biggest and busiest markets, you'll be surprised by how calm and peaceful it is in Otavalo. Clever stallholders know they don't need to shout and holler to get your attention - they leave that to their incredible products.
Scarves, blankets, shawls, hammocks, jewellery, paintings and clothing stretch as far as the eye can see; in a rainbow of colours so beautiful you won't know where to start.
Nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by volcanic lagoons and mountains, Otavalo is a small city of about 50,000 people, many of them descending from the mountains to buy, sell and socialise at this world-famous indigenous artisan market.
It is open every day, but is busiest on Saturday, when the market extends beyond the city’s central plaza (Plaza de Ponchos) and out into the side streets to accommodate the throngs of visitors. Get here early to witness the chaos of the animal market, where donkeys, pigs, chickens, llamas and horses are bought, sold or traded.
By 9am the air is already filled with traditional Andean music and most of the artisans have set up their stalls.
Raw materials are popular, with many people crafting their wares from nuts, beads, wood, precious metals and stones, leather and wool. Artifacts that will catch your eye include traditional musical instruments like the panpipe (or rondador); jewellery made from beads, stones and precious metals; hats (including the Panama and Fedora); wood carvings; dolls; paintings and clothing.