It rains a fair bit in Ecuador. Small streams are frequently torrents of water, thus leading to many waterfalls. Most are hidden well out of site in the jungles and cloud forests, but some, like the Cascada de Peguche near Otavalo, are quite accessible.
The Cascada de Peguche is not a large waterfall, only a mere 20 metres or so, but there is an intensity to the water that is impressive. And with usually only a handful of visitors it is quite a tranquil place amongst the trees.
We have been pleasantly impressed by the number of Ecuadorians who get out and enjoy the tourist sites, both natural and cultural, within their country. On most of our visits to Peguche there were only a couple of dozen people around, enjoying leisurely walks and the falls.
During Carnival, however, we were among a thousand or more people – all of them spraying espuma (coloured shaving cream) and throwing water balloons at everyone else. It was a very festive atmosphere but not at all conducive to quiet contemplation of nature or staying dry!
That aside, it is a lovely area with a nice easy hike through towering eucalyptus trees – at least one of which is 100 years old – along side a lovely stream. It is very family and pet friendly, and you can find a few local vendors outside the entrance selling trinkets, souvenirs and local delicacies.
There are some small pools below the falls that are ritually important for the local Kichwa community. Every year before the Inti Raymi Sun God Festival on June 21, people come and cleanse themselves in order to prepare spiritually for the celebrations. I imagine that is quite a busy day as well, but more culturally significant and probably less chaotic than the espuma fights during Carnival!
All in all you can’t go wrong with a little side trip to Peguche if you are in Otavalo. The place really is beautiful and there are also some impressive traditional weaving workshops in the town itself that are well worth a stop.