Home to an uncountable number of lakes and other bodies of water,
Imbabura is a great place for fishing and adventure sports. Located
in Ecuadors northern highlands, the province enjoys a pleasantly
dry climate with an average temperature of around 18 degrees centigrade.
Its production of handicrafts has made its indigenous population,
principally those from Otavalo, famous worldwide. The province is
also well known for its Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. Imbaburas
hotel facilities and tourist infrastructure are among the best in
- The White City and its History
With its beautifully paved streets and its colonial houses, Ibarra,
also known as the White City, is one of the most visited towns in
northern Ecuador. The older part of the city is line with white,
one-storey houses built around ornamental and well-preserved parks
such as Moncayo Park and La Merced Park. Art exhibitions are displayed
in the Catholic University, the Universidad del Norte, the Culture
House, and the Colegio de Arquitectos. There are also several museums
with archaeological, numismatic, philatelic, and paleontological
displays, among others. The town has a wealth of hotels, bars, and
restaurants that serve delicious local cuisine. Outside Ibarra and
throughout the province of Imbabura, there are lovely country hotels,
both old and new, which welcome the visitor to the beautiful hidden
corners of the area.
Imbabura is most famous for its artisan markets. The biggest is
in Otavalo, where indigenous people from dozens of local villages
meet in the Plaza de los Ponchos to display their handcrafted textiles.
The techniques used to make clothes, blankets, and wall hangings
date back to colonial times. There are also other kinds of wares,
such as native art, ceramics, jewelry, bags, and much more, all
handcrafted by local artisans.
Southeast of Ibarra is the town of Cotocachi. Known as Ecuadors
musical capital, Cotocachi is also famous for making high-quality,
inexpensive leather goods. Throughout the towns center, a
dozens of shops exhibit all kinds of beautifully made goods. Weekends
are the best time to visit.
Very near to Otavalo is the indigenous village of Peguche, famous
for its magnificent waterfall and its enormous stands of eucalyptus.
Ecological Reserve - From the Paramo to Rainforest
Visiting Cotocachi-Cayapas is a must for tourists who want to explore
the Andean backcountry. One of the Reserves main features
is Cuicocha Lake (3,068m above sea level), located just minutes
outside of Cotocachi. Motorboat trips around the two small islands
in the middle of this breathtaking lake give the visitor the opportunity
to get a glimpse of the local flora and fauna. The Reserve also
contains rain forests and extensive paramos home to a variety of
herbaceous species, lianas, and ferns.
Imbabura is the Lakes province.
The Lakes of Piñan, at an altitude of 4,000m, are ideal for
hunting and fishing. Another area popular for camping is the Mojanda
Lakes: Caricocha, Huamicocha, and Yanacocha. These lie at over 3,500m,
just south of Otavalo. For rowing and sailing, travelers typically
visit Lake San Pablo (2,500 m). Located next to the village of the
same name, San Pablo is surrounded by indigenous villages, rushes,
green fields, and haciendas. These traditional homesteads/hotels
offer entertainment, relaxation, and delicious cuisine. Another
popular lake is the crimson-colored Lake Yahuarcocha. According
to local legend, this highland lake turned red after a bloody battle
fought between the Caranquis and the Incas. Nowadays, it is more
well-known for the racetrack that surrounds it, where national and
international rallies are held.
A short distance from Cotacachi, in the village of Intag, we find
the Nangulví hot springs. Their warm waters and pleasant
vegetation attract both locals and visitors.
Esperanza and Zuleta
These two villages, not far from Ibarra, are famous for the fine,
multi-coloured embroidery crafted by the local women. Other artisans
in this village have gained fame for the leather goods they produce.
In several villages in Imbabura (and other parts of the country),
the indigenous people hold festivals to celebrate the harvest and
in honor of the sun. The latter festival is known as the Fiesta
de la Jora and is celebrated in the first two weeks of September.
The celebrations includes music, dancing, feasting, and, of course,
drinking lots of chicha de Jora, a locally produced, traditional
alcoholic drink made from seven kinds of maize.
Carne colorada (steak cooked in a natural red colouring)
and chicha de jora (local maize-based alcoholic drink), can
be sampled in restaurants throughout Imbabura. Other local dishes
include nogadas (walnut-based sweets), arrope de mora
(blackberry syrup), helados de paila (handmade ice cream),
and empanadas de morocho (white-corn pastries).
Map of Imbabura, Ecuador
| Ibarra | Indigenous Markets
| Peguche Waterfall |
| Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve
| Lakes | Nangulv?
| La Esperanza & Zuleta | Culture
& Traditions | Cuisine |
| Map of Imbabura, Ecuador |