Casa Mojanda to San Pablo del Lago

Hikes · Ecuador
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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
21.8 km
Duration
7:00h
Ascent
394 m
Descent
544 m

Experience the Otavalo Valley in full on this hike from hacienda to hacienda, enjoying ever-changing views of towering volcanoes, experiencing the local textile market, stopping off at a waterfall and visiting a traditional highlands weaving shop.

Begin your day by descending to Otavalo, one of the most important market towns in Latin America, and the Plaza de los Ponchos. After exploring the textile market, leave the city behind as you climb up a lush valley to the 50 foot-tall Peguche waterfall. Stop for a view of the falls, looking back to see Otavalo below and the foothills of Mojanda Volcano across the valley. Proceed to the Tahuantinsuyo Weaver's Shop, where Miguel Andrango continues to teach his kids and grandkids how to make highlands textiles using Alapaca wool, dye from surrounding vegetation and handheld looms, keeping alive traditional skills.

After a demonstration of highland's textile-making, you'll leave Miguel's town, entering more open farmland, enjoying views of the Imbabura Volcano towering over you to your left and Lago San Pablo down below to your right. Continue on through a few small outcroppings of houses before descending to the community of Araque, on the shores of the lake. You'll walk on the main street through town, bustling with buses, schoolkids and cattle before arriving at Hacienda Cusin, your destination for the evening.

Author’s recommendation

Your hosts at Casa Mojanda know the area well and can point you to the start of this walk, on the other side of the organic garden. If you have any other questions about the walk or activities in the area, they are a great resource.

Make sure you have your camera out and ready on today's walk. You'll have ever-changing views of the Otavalo Valley and the surrounding volcanoes. And the Ruta Agato or "High Route" (a network of back roads) weaves between the Imbabura Volcano and Lago San Pablo offering plenty of great photo opportunities. On the high route you will also be able to catch glimpses of the Pan-American highway winding its way out of the Valley south toward Quito. 

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Difficulty
moderate
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2858 m
Lowest point
2530 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

You're at a high elevation in the Otavalo Valley and the Highlands, so it's important to wear plenty of sunscreen and to maintain proper hydration and nutrition for your day's hike. Pack plenty of food, water and snacks. Weather can also change rapidly, so bring your rain jacket and pants. 

Dogs are popular pets all over Ecuador. Some will approach you in a friendly manner, most will bark loudly as you pass by and others can be more aggressive. Carry a walking stick and be prepared to bend over and pretend to pick up rocks; this will often keep aggressive dogs at bay. 

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Otavalo Market

Otavalo is renowned for its daily market. At its heart is the Plaza de los Ponchos, with stalls full of colorful wool textiles woven following traditional designs and, in many cases, using pre-Colombian practices passed down through the generations. While some of the wares have started to be mass-produced, the Plaza still offers insight into the local weaving culture that remains an integral part of the Otavalo Valley and its culture. 

Peguche Waterfall

Just a few miles outside the city of Otavalo, the 50-foot Peguche waterfall is a ceremonial site used during the Festival of Sun, practiced every June in Andean villages throughout South America. 

Tahuantinsuyo Weaver's Shop

Miguel Andrango's weaver's shop is well worth the visit for the demonstration of the traditional highland's textile-making craft. Miguel and his family only speak spanish, but are warm and welcoming hosts and eager to share their beautiful handiwork with you.

Food & Drink

Offering locally-sourced coffee, baked goods and hearty sandwiches, La Cosecha is a great spot for refreshments and/or lunch after your morning walk into town. The cafe is located on the west side of Plaza de los Ponchos in a white building with a sign for "Cavacaran." Your turn-by-turn directions include directions to La Cosecha.

 

 

Start

Casa Mojanda (2853 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
0.201991, -78.288318
UTM
17N 801854 22351

Destination

Hacienda Cusin

Turn-by-turn directions

Start facing the door to reception at Casa Mojanda. Follow the path to the right of reception

0 miles - After passing reception, BEAR LEFT across the grass and organic gardens. You will see a sign to Otavalo at the base of the gardens. BEAR RIGHT through the gate toward the trees. Continue STRAIGHT ON across the muddy track and pasture and you will see a gate a short distance across the field to your left. 

0.10 miles - TURN LEFT after passing through the gate to follow the narrow path along the edge of the trees. 

0.20 miles - BEAR RIGHT at the bottom of the hill to continue following the edge of the field. The path will drop down to a dirt road. Continue STRAIGHT ON across the dirt road. 

0.95 miles - You will come to a small cluster of buildings. Continue STRAIGHT ON following the path through the town. 

1.00 miles - BEAR LEFT across the bridge and continue up the hill (picture). 

1.20 miles - Come to a T-junction with a red and white building to your right. TURN RIGHT to head down the cobblestone road. 

2.00 miles - Continue STRAIGHT ON across the bridge with a yellow banister, on to a road with sidewalks. You're now on the outskirts of the downtown area. 

2.80 miles - Arrive at a busy road with a stoplight. This is the Pan-American Highway. Cross cautiously and continue STRAIGHT ON

3.10 miles - The road narrows as you approach the city center and is lined with red-steel flags and lamp posts (picture). Continue STRAIGHT ON

3.40 miles - Arrive at the main square with the white city hall building on your right. Continue STRAIGHT ON

3.70 miles - Arrive at the center of the Otavalo Market, the Plaza de los Ponchos. TURN LEFT and proceed one block to the other end of the market. 

3.80 miles - La Cosecha is in the white-building with the "Cavacaran" sign, two down from the corner. 

3.80 miles – With your back to La Cosecha TURN LEFT and proceed to the end of the block. TURN RIGHT to continue around Plaza de los Ponchos. Once you’ve reached the next four-way intersection, TURN LEFT to head away from the Plaza.

4.20 miles – Arrive at a small square with a statue at its center. BEAR RIGHT towards the statue and walk diagonally across the park.

4.30 miles – BEAR LEFT to continue along the main road after exiting the park.

4.40 miles – Just before a gas station with blue and green “P&S” signage, TURN RIGHT and take the crosswalk across the road. CONTINUE STRAIGHT past the school.

4.50 miles – At the end of the block CONTINUE STRAIGHT across the road. You’ll see small soccer fields on your left.

4.70 miles – At the end of the block, TURN LEFT.

5.0 miles– Continue STRAIGHT ON past the power plant on your right.

5.25 miles – Continue STRAIGHT ON following signs for Peguche as the road curves to the right.  

5.30 miles - TURN RIGHT at the large wooden sign for “Cendero a la Cascada” (picture),  following a dirt road up a slight grade to a T-junction. TURN LEFT to follow signs for “parqueadero.”

5.50 miles – BEAR LEFT to head down a short grade past the thatched-roofed huts (picture).

5.80 miles – Continue STRAIGHT ON down the wooden steps to following the path up the valley. As the path flattens out, BEAR LEFT to continue following the river and canal.

5.90 miles – Cross under a wooden pedestrian bridge. The trail will take a sharp right to climb a series of steep steps. At the top of the steps TURN LEFT, following the green and yellow wooden painted signs to “cascada."

6.00 miles – Continue STRAIGHT ON past a series of small wooden shops with snacks and souvenirs.

6.10 miles – BEAR LEFT to head down the wooden steps toward the waterfall. At the base of the stairs TURN LEFT to cross the bridge over the river. If you’d like, before you take a left to cross the bridge, you may take a detour to the base of the waterfall. After crossing the bridge, BEAR RIGHT to climb up a short series of steps, following signs for the “mirador” (viewpoint). You may take a minor detour here to the viewpoint.

6.20 miles – TURN RIGHT to follow a flat dirt track along a canal, on your right (picture).

6.50 miles – Arrive at a wooden fence, with a road on the other side. Go down the hill to the left to get around the fence (picture). Take a sharp TURN RIGHT to head back up the hill, joining up with the cobblestone road. Follow this road as it climbs up and out of the valley.

7.00 miles – You’ll come to the top of the hill and an intersection. TURN LEFT following the sign toward “Yaku Pata” and “Agato” (picture).

7.10 miles – TURN LEFT to continue a gentle climb with the Imbabura Volcano ahead of you.

7.30 miles – At the four-way intersection TURN LEFT.

7.40 miles – Arrive at the Tahuantinsuyo Weaver’s Shop on your left (picture).

7.40 miles - With your back to the door of the weaver's shop, TURN RIGHT to follow the main street. TURN LEFT at the first dirt road you come to, heading up the hill toward Imbabura.

7.50 miles - At the next T-junction, TURN RIGHT.

7.60 miles - At the next T-junction, BEAR RIGHT.

7.70 Miles - At the beige and pink house, TURN RIGHT (picture). 

7.80 miles - At the next T-junction, you'll see a shingled building with a green door and a blue sign above the door that says "Calle Yacaloma." TURN LEFT (picture). 

7.90 miles - At the dead end, TURN RIGHT

8.00 miles - Continue STRAIGHT ON over the bridge with the multicolored banister.

8.10 miles - Before passing the bright blue house, TURN LEFT up the cobblestone road toward Imbabura Volcano. 

8.10 miles - After less than 100 yards, TURN RIGHT at the next road. 

8.30 miles - TURN LEFT toward the mountains.

8.60 miles - The cobblestone road ahead of you will peter out as it crosses between two houses. At this intersection, TURN RIGHT

8.80 miles - Continue STRAIGHT ON past the church on your right (picture). 

9.30 miles - At the T-junction, BEAR LEFT up the slight incline. 

10.30 miles - The road peters out ahead of you and you'll see a small concrete structure to your right. At this intersection, TURN LEFT to start climbing up a steep hill toward Imbabura. 

10.60 miles - You will come to a T-junction as you crest the hill. TURN RIGHT and work your way around the small knoll that you climbed up. As you pass the knoll on your right, you'll see views of the town of San Pablo del Lago in the valley below with a distinctive church in the distance (picture). 

11.50 miles - BEAR RIGHT at the fork to take the road that slopes down the hill and back toward Lago San Pablo. 

11.70 miles - Continue STRAIGHT ON down the hill as the road changes to smooth cobblestone. 

12.20 miles - As you reach the bottom of the hill, you'll come to a smooth asphalt road, the main road for the community of Araque, Calle Sucre. TURN LEFT

13.00 miles - Arrive at the main square of the town San Pablo del Lago. BEAR RIGHT to cross diagonally across the square. You will see a church over your left shoulder as you cross the square (picture). 

13.10 miles - At the far end of the square, BEAR LEFT to follow Calle Chirboga (a street sign is on the whitewashed building across from you). 

13.30 miles - Continue STRAIGHT ON at the intersection, taking care as you cross. Follow signs for Cusin (picture). 

13.50 miles – Arrive at Hacienda Cusin, on your left.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendations for this region:

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Equipment

The weather changes rapidly in the Andean Highlands so pack accordingly, carrying with you warm layers and rain gear. Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots are also strongly recommended, as the hiking surface varies greatly from smooth asphalt roads to rough cobblestone and dirt tracks to slippery singletrack trails. 

Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure 
outdooractive.com User
Author
Claire Peters
Updated: June 28, 2018

Travel Guide: Hikes in Ecuador


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