115km (71 miles) N of Quito; 535km (332 miles) NE of Guayaquil; 20km (12 miles) N of Otavalo

Often overlooked by tourists, Ibarra is the capital of Imbabura province and the main business, transportation, and governmental hub for Ecuador's northern highlands. Founded in 1606, Ibarra was almost completely destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1868. Ibarra is nicknamed La Ciudad Blanca (The White City), owing to the surviving whitewashed colonial-era buildings that define its downtown. Situated at the foot of the Volcán Imbabura at an altitude of 2,225m (7,300 ft.), Ibarra enjoys a year-round springlike climate, and it's located at the junction between the market town of Otavalo, the humid Chota valley, and the coastal region.

Perhaps the biggest draw in Ibarra is its satellite burg, San Antonio de Ibarra (5km/3 miles south of downtown), a small, artistic community renowned for its woodcarving and artisans. Another of Ibarra's biggest attractions, Laguna Yahuarcocha, also lies just outside the city.