Ecuador: The Imbabura Province – Home of the White City

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 lined with white, split-level houses built around ornamental and well-preserved parks such as Moncayo 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 and paleontological displays, among others. Ibarra 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.

All the pieces are in place. The only thing missing at this point is YOU.

The Imbabura Province 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 Ecuador’s musical capital, Cotocachi is also famous for making high-quality, inexpensive leather goods. Throughout the town’s center, a dozens of shops exhibit all kinds of beautifully made goods. Weekends are the best time to visit.

Imbabura is also known as the Lakes province. The Lakes of Pinan, at an altitude of 4,000 meters, are ideal for hunting and fishing. Another area popular for camping is the Mojanda Lakes comprised of Caricocha, Huamicocha, and Yanacocha. These lie at over 3,500 meters, just south of Otavalo. For rowing and sailing, travelers typically visit Lake San Pablo. 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 legends, this highland lake turned red after a bloody battle fought between the Caranquis and the Incas.

You’ll be hard pressed to find another area so rich in the handicrafts of the local population, while at the same time offering so much for outdoor enthusiasts. And while you’re shopping for that perfect “something” why not consider spending an extra day in and around the region. Use our travel link for reliable points-of-contact on tours, lodging and restaurants.