- Water Sports
Ibarra is a culturally mixed city located deep in the heart of Imbabura Province. Quechuas, Africans and those of mixed race all live their daily lives together here. The city still has a certain colonial, Christian (it contains many churches) style about it, and the predominance of white buildings along its streets has led to it being referred to as "The White City". The cathedral of Pedro Montcayo is lit with blue and yellow lights after dark to highlight its 19th century architecture. It's something not to be missed under any circumstances!
I also recommend visiting the market set out around the Obelisk when you're in Ibarra. Here you'll find mobile food stands selling fruit juices and "mote con queso" (cooked corn kernels with cheese). I also really enjoyed the "helados de paila" (traditional ice creams) and "el pan con leche" (bread with milk) you can get in the Caranqui district (two kilometres from Ibarra by bus). Don't be at all reluctant to go for a walk around this neighbourhood. I saw some beautiful, highly colourful houses here, with the Imbabura Volcano providing the backdrop.
Finally, and if you have enough time, a spot of sailing on Yahuarcocha Lake – or a ride in a pedalo – is a good way for those who enjoy water-based activities to get out into the fresh air. If you want to venture further afield, I recommend catching the bus that stops in front of the market and goes up to Esperanza, a district located in the heights above Ibarra. You'll find a wonderful hacienda up there, and you'll get to enjoy views of the Cayambe Volcano (when its not cloudy).
After Otavalo and before going back to Quito, I decided to go to Ibarra because I had heard good things about it. Only 2,225 m above sea level and surrounded by mountains I was under the charm of the town which I explored on foot for a day.
The centre isn't very big and has some old colonial buildings, a few churches and lots of parks where it was good just to sit and people watch.
The streets are calm and the atmosphere is relaxed. There are electric cables everywhere which spoils it a bit but there you go. I couldn't finish my day without going to try the famous Suarez family ice-cream, and I wasn't alone - the reputation of this family of ice-cream makers extends well beyond the town's boundaries.