Ecuador is home to one of the biggest markets in South America: Otavalo. In this small town, a daily market at the Plaza de Ponchos offers locals and visitors a chance to purchase quality clothing, bags, and accessories. On Saturday, Otavalo bulges with its main market swelling into adjacent streets and vendors coming from around the region to sell their wares. North of town and past the football stadium, the animal market corrals little lambs, plump piglets, and golden ducklings together for the highest bidders. Guinea pigs, puppies, and kittens are also on sale. Fresh flowers perfume the air and sacks of spices add multicolored hues to the scene.
With an extra day in Otalavo, we visited the small artisan village of Peguche.
How To Get to Peguche
On our walk to Peguche, I almost burned the guidebooks. They were useless paginations of vague references and broad generalization. But we knew the trip to Peguche was worth the effort, even if we had to ask locals for directions.
Take Avenida Bolivar north out of Otavalo. You’ll pass a hospital, a statue of 3 Otavalenos dancing, a roundabout, and the AKI supermarket. Keep going straight until the Panamericana Highway crosses back into town and a sports field and school are on your right. A blue sign will point the way off the road toward Peguche. Make that right. The school will now be on your left. Follow the road until it ends just over the train tracks. Turn left down the cobbled street and keep walking.
Eventually, the old railroad tracks will continue straight and the dirt/stone road that you’re walking on will veer to the right. If you go right, the entrance to the Peguche Waterfalls will be at the top of the hill on your right side. You’ll see the parking lot and white arches.
If you follow the old train tracks, you’ll go straight into Peguche. Once the houses start to cluster together, you’re there! Look for the street placard with Calle Peguche and make a right. At the end of the road, you’ll come to the small plaza with a little cream-colored church at its center.
At this T-intersection, on your right will be Jose Cotacachi’s weaving store. To your left, Gran Condor Musical Instruments. Turn left onto Faccha Nan and continue to the famous Nanda Manachi Musician workshop.
The walk from Otavalo to Peguche takes about an hour. Enjoy the scenery including cows grazing soccer fields, chickens clucking at dogs, and school children walking home for a 2-hour lunch break. Indulge in the shopping. Many Peguche craftsmen are so talented they don’t need to go to Otavalo’s market. Their products sell just fine in their home storefront.