Off the Beaten Path to Salasaca

If you’re looking to visit somewhere a bit more off the beaten path, why not take a trip to Salasaca. Nestled in the Andes mountains in roughly centre of Ecuador, Salasaca is located in what is known as the Tungurahua Province. The town is quite small and is home to only about 12 000 people. Nevertheless the place has many interesting things to see.

You’ll find the town of Salasaca about halfway on the road between Ambato and Baños. As you travel these dusty, rural roads, it will likely come as no surprise to you that the main economic activities in Salasaca are the raising and trading of livestock, agriculture and the selling of handcrafts. The local people are known as Salasacas and their native language is Quechua (or Kichwa). When you look at the people and their culture you’ll see quite easily that they are somewhat different from other Ecuadorian peoples. It is thought that the Salasacas were originally from Bolivia, but that they were transplanted by the Incas many hundreds of years ago. It may be said that they now have a strong sense of culture that is quite different from what is found in Bolivia but perhaps certain elements of their traditional craftsmanship and music stem back to these ancient roots.

Most visitors to Salasaca will enjoy examining the locally crafted products. The tapestries are hand woven on ancient looms and you will find a variety of items at the market, from carpets to alpaca sweaters. Most of the tapestries feature designs that depict different aspects of the lives of these peaceful people and so they have an artistic aspect to them as well as a functional one. If you’re looking to do some good shopping, you should visit on the weekend after 10am when the town’s central plaza comes alive as the ‘Plaza of the Arts’ – a large craft market where you’ll find a wonderful variety of items at a variety of prices. If you’re a music lover, keep an ear out for the local Salasacas performers filling the air with their traditional music. Traditional Salasaca music uses mainly the flute and drum, but other instruments have been incorporated into the traditional melodies in more recent years.

If you are able to visit in June, you will find Salasaca alive with color and festivities as the people celebrate Inti Raymi, the local harvest festival celebrated by all Quecha communities. However, the Salasaca put their own unique spin on festival proceedings which make it interesting to observe. Salasaca is a very special little place in the heart of Ecuador that makes for a worthwhile daytrip. Salasaca is almost three hours from Quito and buses regularly depart for the well-known market during the day.