We have seen a lot of travelers who only would like to see the bucket list items in Ecuador such as Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. That is a shame because the country has so much more to offer. Between Quito & the Colombian border, the most important place to visit is Otavalo of course, but I would like to share some Hidden Treasures of the Northern Andes of Ecuador with you.
Cayambe Bizcocho’s Factory: Between Quito and Otavalo, you have a little city with the name of Cayambe. In this town, you find the best bizcochos. This is a type of bread made with no yeast, and you can eat it with fresh cheese (queso de hoja) or caramel milk (dulce de leche). My favorite place to buy fresh bizcochos in Cayambe is located in front of the cemetery of the town.
Hacienda Piman: Only 20 minutes north of Ibarra, you will find Hacienda Piman, located in a dry & warm microclimate. You can rent mountain bikes here, relax at the swimming pool, or get a delicious massage. If you are more interested in history, you can listen to the (literary) family history of the Zaldumbides, who have been the owners of the hacienda for generations.
Hacienda La Compania-Cayambe (Rose Farm): This old hacienda house is the perfect place for a good lunch. You can visit the rose fields and the stable of the hacienda where you can find an exhibition of some of the best flowers they have produced.
Train Ibarra – Salinas (Tren de la Libertad): From Ibarra, which is also called the “White City”, there is a sightseeing train that gets you to “Salinas de Ibarra”. This town is known for the history and culture of the Afro-Ecuadorian people, as well as the warmth and kindness of them. You can visit the different museums and try the tasty local food.
Intag Valley: A beautiful valley located only two hours west from Otavalo and Cotacachi. It has a very extensive forest and warm climate. A paradise where you can find nature, culture, traditions and fun all together. You can find many natural products like coffee and tropical fruits, and also hot springs and great places for fishing.
Cuicocha Lake: A large crater or caldera lake nearly two miles across. This lake is located about an hour northwest of Otavalo. In fact, many years ago, this was a volcano which erupted and left the caldera filled up with water and two small islands at the center. Hiking around the crater or taking a boat trip inside the lake to watch beautiful birds are amazing activities.
Peguche Waterfall: This waterfall is located 2km away of the Peguche community, inside the Otavalo area. It has a nice weather, which is ideal for walking through the path of the Eucalyptus Forest, considered the protector of these waterfalls. After traversing the forest, visitors can arrive to this amazing wilderness place. If you look carefully, you can see some of the local bird species like quilicos, doves, country owl, swallows, sparrows and hummingbirds. Also reptiles like lizards, frogs and little snakes can be spotted here.
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