Anyone who puts shopping high on the list of activities that make a destination desirable will find Ecuador not just desirable, but irresistible. Craftsmanship is skilled, the artistry highly imaginative and the prices low.
Whether it be a (misnamed) Panama hat, an alpaca sweater, silver jewellery, scarves, flutes, music, leather goods, wood or jade carvings, ceramics, coffee, chocolate or even fruit liquor, you can't leave Ecuador without at least half of your suitcase full of the country's little treasures. In fact, it's wise to bring a suitcase that's going to be big enough to cram in all your purchases!
To give you an idea of what to look out for, here's a quick list:
- A poncho from an indigenous market: Otavalo, Pujilí or Saquisilí.
- An elegant Panama hat.
- Beautiful ceramics either from the coast, the highlands (particularly from Cuenca) or the Amazon.
- Wood-carved crafts from San Antonio, near Otavalo.
- Leather goods from Cotacachi.
- "Espíritu del Ecuador", fruit liquor.
- A "Middle of the world" miniature monument.
- Galapagos T-shirts.
- Balsawood Macaws and balsa wood exotic flowers, from Puyo.
- Beautiful jewelry from Chordeleg in Azuay, near Cuenca.
- Silver jewellery with Inca designs.
- Decorations in jade from Otavalo market.
- Soft alpaca rugs or covers for cushions.
- Folkloric music.
- A "Rondador" (pan pipe).
- "Masapan" figures from Calderón, near Quito.
- "Melcochas" (hard candy) from Baños.
- "Cocadas" (coco and brown sugar candy) from Esmeraldas.
- Ecuadorian coffee.
- Ecuadorian chocolate.
- "Palo de Lluvia" bamboo rain stick.
- Wool sweaters from Imbabura Province (Otavalo and around).
- Ecuador football team t-shirt
Good places to head for souvenirs in Quito include the street called La Ronda in the Old Town, El Quinde shop (Palacio Municipal, Plaza Grande), Otavalo market, El Tianguez on the San Francisco square, the shop inside the Mindalae Museum (Diego de Almagro, Mariscal quarter), Folklore Olga Fisch (on Avenida Colon up from 6 de Diciembre, and in Hotel Patio Andaluz), the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal (Jorge Washington, Mariscal quarter) and Hyla (Juan León Mera and Roca, Mariscal quarter).