Markets of Tungurahua and Chimborazo


Less than ninety miles south of Quito is Ambato, the provincial capital of Tungurahua. Though much of Ambato’s colonial architecture was wiped out by an earthquake a half century ago, its picturesque flora gives photographers on Ecuador tours plenty of photogenic subjects. Monday is market day when visitors on Ecuador tours will find crafts from the surrounding villages, predominated by leather goods. A smaller market takes place Wednesday and Friday. For the crafts lover, a great time to schedule Ecuador tours to Ambato is during the Feria de Finados (Fair of the Deceased), an event that takes place in early November. To find some of the best leather prices in the country, head to the hill town of Quizapincha during your travel to Ecuador six miles west of Ambato.

A stop for crafts lovers who are on their way east to the outdoor attractions of Baños during their travel to Ecuador is Salasaca, half way between Ambato and Baños. The village is known for its weaving traditions. Here visitors on Ecuador tours will find everything from shigra bags to wall hangings to carpets woven of various materials. Salasaca is also a great place to pick up a poncho at the crafts market that takes place in the main plaza on Sunday. If you happen to be passing through any other day of the week, you’ll find workshops open. A few miles further south you’ll pass Pelileo, the capital of denim, containing shop after shop selling jeans.

Set in a valley at the foot of the Tungurahua volcano, Baños is not a crafts town, per se. Rather, it attracts the international set for its hiking and bicycling as well as rafting the Pastaza River with a soak in the soothing thermal baths to look forward to afterwards, the amenity for which the city is named. Among the souvenirs that shoppers will find here are tagua figures and jewelry, balsawood crafts and religious items as well as paintings by Ecuadorian artists.

The largest of the region’s craft markets in Chimborazo Province is found in Riobamba. The Saturday event is held in the Parque de la Conception. Among crafts that visitors will find here during their travel to Ecuador are small, carved tagua sculptures, shigras and other items woven of plant fibers. The Thursday market in Guamote, about twenty miles southwest of Riobamba, is enjoyed by photographers on Ecuador tours since many of the vendors and shoppers wear red garments.

Visitors wishing to put a toe into the Amazon during their travel to Ecuador without going all out for a full Amazon tour, find this region, wedged between the Andes and the rainforest, just what they are seeking. Of Southern Explorations’ many Ecuador tours, three visit the Andes regions between Cotopaxi and Cuenca, the nine-day Ecuador Highlights and Explore Ecuador trips and the twelve-day Andes Amazon Galapagos Multisport. This multi-faceted Ecuador travel to the Galapagos Islands and the mainland visits Salasaca to learn about weaving cabuya fibers on the way to destinations south of Cotopaxi National Park.