Cotacachi is a small Andean town about two hours north of Quito. It is a local leather-making centre, a craft that started during the Spanish hacienda system. Nowadays the trade has made Cotacachi quite an affluent place. The town is clean, the streets are paved and the houses are smart.
The church is located on the main square and has quite an impressive tower. Two blocks south is a street lined for several blocks with shops selling all manner of leather goods. The quality is high and the prices, while not dirt cheap, would certainly represent a bargain for most foreign visitors. Moreover you can see the positive effect the commerce has had on the town.
Cotacachi seems to be the preferred location for a burgeoning ex-pat community. There are foreign run hosterias and a gated residential community where you can buy a house off plan.
Cotacachi is the gateway to the Andean part of the Cotacachi-Cayapas reserve. It is easy to get to Laguna Cuicocha ($5 taxi) from where one road heads up towards the Cotacachi volcano and another leads into the Intag region, to Apuela and García Moreno.
Where to Stay, Where to Eat
There are several nice places to stay and some basic but comfortable hostels. There are also some good café/ restaurants where you can enjoy a good set breakfast or lunch. I´d definitely recommend the D´Ánita restaurant (pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, juice and coffee all for $3.50).
Click here to find out Where to Stay or Where to Eat in Cotacachi
A couple of bus lines connect Cotacachi with Otavalo. Trans Cotacachi goes via Quiroga. Co-operativa 6 de julio goes along the Panamericana. The latter also run buses to Ibarra.