Otavalo and Banos, Ecuador
Otavalo (Spanish: Otavalo) is a small town in Ecuador, nestled in a picturesque valley at the foot of the Imbabura volcano (Spanish: Volcan Imbabura; 4609 m a.s.l.). It is the administrative center of the canton of the same name, which is part of the province of Imbabura (Spanish: Provincia de Imbabura), located 95 km along the Pan-American Highway northeast of the country’s capital, Quito (Spanish: San Francisco de Quito).
The very fertile volcanic soil of the valley, surrounded by the Andes chain, encourages the locals to harvest 3 crops a year of various vegetable crops. Wheat, barley, potatoes, corn, rice, sugarcane and citrus fruits are grown here. The residents also raise cattle and sheep. Forest industries are developed in the region, such as harvesting valuable balsa wood, collecting palm nuts and hevea juice.
The amazing town of Banos, surrounded by mountains and fast rivers, is located on the slope of the active volcano Tungurahua (5004 m) at an altitude of 1820 m above sea level. The volcanic eruption is now taking place in the form of ejections of columns of steam.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Ecuadorian Sierra with a mild subtropical climate. Due to its unique location, Baños is one of the most visited places in Ecuador. These places were chosen by the Incas because of the unique beauty of the local nature, and also because of the healing properties of the local thermal springs. At the foot of the mountain there are public baths-pools with healing water from thermal springs gushing from the volcano. In some – a real boiling water. When the water cools, it is allowed into the second pool, the most popular among bathers. The third pool contains meltwater from the icy peaks of the same volcano. And all around is fabulous beauty: on the one hand, a view of Banos opens, on the other – the kingdom of wild nature. There are several hotels in Banos that have their own thermal springs.
The surroundings of Banos are also famous for the most picturesque waterfalls flowing in large numbers from the surrounding mountains. In these places is the so-called Avenue of the Falls, which stretches to the town of Rio Verde. The most interesting mountain routes are provided here, which can be overcome both on foot and on quad bikes, mountain bikes, horses, and part of the route can be overcome with the help of a cable car hanging over the abyss. In a special open trailer by cable car, you can cross the canyon in the immediate vicinity of one of the waterfalls. Here you can enjoy the magnificent spectacle of water breaking from the surrounding cliffs and the majestic mountain landscapes of the Andes. One of the city attractions of Banos is the Basilica, located in the central square is a sophisticated gothic structure made of volcanic stone. This temple was built in honor of the Virgin of the Holy Water, who is the patroness of the city.