Cotacachi, Ecuador

Located between two towering volcanoes, Cotacachi, Ecuador is a delightful village of about 7,000 people, located 1 1/2 hours north of Quito.   The town sits at 8,000 feet, and the climate is cooler than most of Ecuador.   When the sun is shining, which is often, Cotacachi is warm and inviting.   When the sun hides behind the clouds, the weather immediately cools.  

The expatriate community is small, but more are heading to Cotacachi, attracted by the safe, gentle lifestyle and the very low cost of living.  Mountain views, nearby lakes and hot springs add to the area’s charm and appeal.

Children here play in the streets after dark, and the city is clean, rivaling most towns in the U.S.   This is an idyllic spot and perfect for retirees who just want to relax and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them on all sides. For more excitement, residents visit Otavalo, the largest outdoor craft market in South America.  An impressive Catholic church dominates the landscape on the palm-lined town square.  One nearby lake, Laguna de Cuicocha, is mystical and secluded, and the twin islands in the center of the lake are off-limits to visitors as the lake is used by local shaman for ceremonies.

While Cotacachi is not yet a major tourist or retiree hangout, that is changing. There are several hotels, hostels and haciendas to choose from while visiting the area. The prices range from $7-8 per person in two hostels to $750 per night for a deluxe cabina at the 5-star La Mirage, a premier Relais and Chateaux spa. 

Cotacachi is becoming a destination for quality, low-cost medical care. Cuban doctors have receive rave reviews at Sol de Vida, a rehabilitation center where numerous healing modalities can be experienced all in one place for $2 a visit. Native women, the mamacitas, still practice midwifery and a shaman will diagnose your ailments with a live guinea pig or egg. The local hospital will do full work up blood tests for about $16.

Cotacachi is worth considering for an out-of-the-way, tranquil retirement in a very pretty spot.