If your Ecuador tours take you to the Pacific coast, around such villages as Valdivia, Cadaete, Manglar Alto, and Olon in Guayas Province, toquilla plantations are abundant. Inland from the provincial city of Manta is where the most famous of Ecuador’s panama hats are made. In Montecristi, the birthplace of the Panama hat, and many other towns, one may visit workshops to watch the hats being made. To the south, the town of Jipijapa is also well known for its longstanding Panama hat traditions, many originating in nearby villages, such as La Pila and Las Pampas. The port city of Guayaquil is a great place to find Panama hats in a full range of prices. If you are about to start your Galapagos Islands tours, you will get a lot of use out of your new purchase and look most stylish in your Galapagos vacation photos.
The Andean city of Cuenca may seem an unlikely place to pick up this hat that we associate with warm tropical days and sultry nights. Visitors on Ecuador tours call Cuenca the most beautiful city in all of Ecuador, its colonial center designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The country’s large exporters of panama hats are located here, and some of the city’s factories are open to the public where visitors may watch craftsmen at work. Many retail shops also sell them here. Cuenca’s Museo del Sombrero pays homage to the region’s hat-making traditions as well as having a workshop and a retail outlet.
It isn’t just the master craftsmen who make Panama hats. In some of the small villages not far from Cuenca, visitors on Ecuador tours will see toquilla straw being sold in the markets and women weaving hats while selling produce on the street or chatting with neighbors. Visiting the small villages of Sigsig and Biblian in the vicinity of Cuenca will make this multitasking talent apparent. Another locale famed for its Panama hats is the pleasant town of Azogues, northeast of Cuenca, a regional export center. Azogues holds a Saturday market where Panama hats are usually sold.
The Southern Explorations’ Ecuador tour that visits Cuenca is the nine-day Ecuador Highlights trip, an Ecuador adventure travel vacation that also spends time in nearby 70,500-acre El Cajas National Park, a paradise for hikers and birders with its many trails and hundreds of lakes in a stunning Andean setting.