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An update from Evaneos

What souvenirs to bring home from Ecuador?

During your trip to Ecuador, you'll no doubt find yourself wandering through its numerous markets, admiring the local handicrafts. The selection is tempting so make the most of stocking up on souvenirs and bargain hard - it's all part of the fun.

The Panama hat, a classic souvenir

Top of the list of gifts to bring back from a trip to Ecuador is that old, classic favourite, the Panama hat. The world's most famous hat is made right here, in Ecuador. Cuenca is Panama hat production central, but if you'd like a handmade, authentic model then head to the village of Sigsig, which is 36km away. The hats are made from Jipijapa leaves. It's a variety of small palm tree that grows on the coast. A craftsman can take between 8 hours and 6 months to weave a Panama. It all depends on the finish and weave. You'll see the difference reflected in the prices, which range from £15 to £750! If you do buy one, make sure you don't leave it in its wrapping for more than 3 days. It could lose its distinctive shape.

The legendary Panama hat

Other ideas

Depending on where you are, the range of souvenirs is wide. If a painted balsa wood surf board is not your thing, don't worry there are plenty of other options.

In the many markets, the amazing Otavalo included, you'll be able to pick up ponchos, woollen clothes and rugs. Clothes often have Inca-style motifs and bright colours. They're beautiful and you'll appreciate their warmth when you're back home. Shigra bags, made from agava fibres, are also a classic.

Ecuador is also a great place for handmade ceramics and gold/silverware. Then there are 'rondadores' or flutes, that any of your musical friends will love. If you find wooden sculptures a dull idea, then go for ones carved out of vegetable ivory. Known as 'tagua' this ivory is legal and makes for an unusual gift.

David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 5 October 2015
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