The Otavalo Artisan Market

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Day 129: Otavalo, Ecuador

To say the Otavalo Market is large is a massive understatement; it is a monstrosity that stretches several blocks and seems unending.

Each Saturday the local indigenous people flock to Otavalo to sell their goods to tourists.

Stalls begin setting up around 7am and remain throughout the day.


Wisely we decided to walk around first to take inventory of what we wanted and get an understanding of prices.

While many of the vendors sell identical goods, the prices vary drastically.

In one case, a necklace with an Incan engraving was priced at $35 from one vendor and $12 at another, and that was before haggling.

Otavalo art and craft market

Once we collected a wish list and our ideal price we loaded up on scarves, bracelets and knit goods.

After 3 hours my sister, Ryan, had enough and decided to go back to the hostel.

The bargain shoppers that we are, my mother and I forged on wanting to buy a few more scarves.

Fried tilapia lunch at Otavalo market

But before we could even think of haggling we headed to the food stall area for lunch. Each stall only sells one thing for lunch and while eating chicken again was tempting we decided on fried tilapia with fresh plum juice.

ALSO READ:  Cuy in Ecuador

Eating fish with its head on may not be for everyone (i.e. Ryan) but it was delicious, surprisingly moist and only $2

Finally after realizing we had enough scarves and bracelets for every possible gift occasion in 2010 and early 2011 we realized we had purchased enough and it was time to call it quits.

Join the Conversation

  1. Gosh I love indigenous markets. Look at the colors!!!

  2. Awesome! That looks like so much fun!

  3. ann wellwood says:

    Loved all the colours!You know you just can’t have too many scarves and jewlery!!!Sounds like it was great fun!!!!

  4. ann wellwood says:

    Loved all the colours!You know you just can’t have too many scarves and jewlery!!

    !Sounds like it was great fun!!!!

  5. I have this terrible habit of buying scarves when abroad. I live in Central Texas – I can only really wear them a few days a year! Also, would you mind telling us what you paid/what the original price was so that we can get an idea of what an appropriate haggle price is?

  6. Ayngelina Author says:

    Absolutely. I’d say everything is 1/2 to 1/3 of the original price so originally they asked $3 for the scarves and we got them for $1.50 each.

    We also looking at a painting and the price started at $90 and it went as low as $50 without any haggling.

  7. Thanks a million!

  8. Oh I love markets, and this one looks so colourful.

    And I’m even starting to enjoy haggling, which I’ve always hated.

    And I think scarves have to be the best buy of any market, anywhere in the world!

  9. What vibrant colors! I really need to get better at haggling, I’ve always been hesitant to do so.

  10. Love me some markets. Markets and food are my absolute favorite parts of traveling. Thanks for sharing, looks like it was a blast.

  11. Fabulous pics! I love vibrant markets like this. Can’t wait to make it to Ecuador–I used to date a guy from there, and his mom always made the best food!

  12. Mmm… I love tilapia…

    Since you refered to them as bottom-feeders, it slightly grossed me out… haha.

    But now I want it again…

  13. I love markets. When I go to MEXICO i love going even if i dont buy anything. I just love seeing all the crafts and goodies people make.

    I love how you set up your photos. What do you use or how do you do it to set up your fotos like that?

  14. Ayngelina Author says:

    @Jaime D
    Thanks, I just learned how to do it in Lightroom and now I’m addicted to diptychs!

  15. I love the duffel bags and texiles. They use the finiset material practicing and preserving a tradition for the past.

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