Discover the Beauty of Ecuador’s Imbabura Province

Located in northern Ecuador, Imbabura province is home to the inactive Imbabura stratovolcano which has not erupted in 14,000 years. As the area is covered in ancient volcanic ash, the slopes of Imbabura are very fertile, providing perfect conditions for the cloud forests to thrive, while the land around the volcano is used for farming. Consisting of a number of cinder cones which vary in height, the top of the volcanic mountain is covered in snow from time to time, but it does not have any permanent glaciers, as is the case with Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.

At a height of 4,630 meters, Imbabura dominates the surrounding landscape and is important in local culture where people have a great respect for the land and nature. The volcano is sometimes referred to as “Taita Imbabura” or “Papa Imbabura” as it is considered to be the region’s sacred protector. On the western slope is an area of loose earth resembling the shape of a heart, which is often depicted in artworks of the volcano. Seen as the heart of the mountain, the area is said to have magical qualities as no human or animal has been able to cross it.

The capital city of the Imbabura Province is Ibarra, otherwise known as the “White City”, referring to the city’s beautiful white-washed houses surrounding beautifully landscaped parks and set along cobble-stone streets. Ibarra was founded by the Spanish in 1606, who built numerous churches and other public buildings, many of which were destroyed by the 1868 earthquake. In fact, the earthquake was so devastating, that the city was rebuilt and re-founded in 1872.

Ibarra has a regular market on Saturdays which is popular with tourists, and on the last weekend of September each year the Fiesta de los Lagos is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The Virgen del Carmen and El Pregón parades are lively events taking place on 16 July each year. Otavalo in Imbabura Province is also well known for its excellent weekly market where indigenous people from surrounding villages bring their hand-made crafts and textiles for sale.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the spectacular lakes of Imbabura, where they can enjoy fishing and a range of water sports such as sailing and canoeing. Certainly, there is plenty to see and do in Ecuador’s Imbabura Province.