David Sasaki kindly gave permission for Not Your Average American to publish his written words and beautiful photos on our website. David is the founder and main administrator of the Facebook group, Ecuador Expats.

Piñañ, Ecuador – A Forgotten Place in Time

Every now and then, I’ve come across places in Ecuador that time seems to have forgotten. One such place is Piñán, a small indigenous village in the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. This village is very isolated and probably has not changed a lot in the last hundred years. Not many places like that are left in Ecuador. Around 40 indigenous families live in Piñán. There are a lot of children. A village leader said there are an average of eight people in each family. There is a school, but no medical facility.

Piñan, Ecuador | photo credit: David Sasaki

Life in Rural Andean Village

The people live in huts with roofs made of grass from the páramo (highland moor). This is the way most indigenous homes used to be built. The village did not get electricity until about ten years ago. There are no cars, though I saw a few motorcycles. Most of the villagers get around by horse. They make their living raising livestock. In recent years, they have been turning their attention to tourism. They built a tourist facility that has beds and a dining room.

Piñan, Ecuador | photo credit: David Sasaki
Crossing the River, Piñan, Ecuador | photo credit: David Sasaki

 How to Get to Piñan, Ecuador

Getting to Piñán is not easy. From Ibarra, it’s more than a four-hour drive on a really bad road. The road going there is really bad, one of the worst I’ve seen in Ecuador, which is saying a lot. A 4WD vehicle is almost a must. If you don’t have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle or a sports motorcycle, you will probably never make it there. But it is worth the bumpy ride. The area is beautiful. Piñán is 3,112 meters (10,209 feet) above sea level. About a 45-minute hike from Piñán is a beautiful lake. Very peaceful. If you don’t want to walk there, the villagers can get you a horse.

Lagunas de Piñan | photo credit: David Sasaki

Piñan, Ecuador

Information For Your Trip

A small fee is charged for a bunk bed and meals prepared in the tourism center. We are reaching out via the Piñan Community Tourism Facebook page to get the best contact for making arrangements to visit.

  • Direction by Car, use WAZE and first look for Uruqui, Ecuador (just outside of Ibarra – don’t confuse it for places with the same name in Quito). Then look for Piñán, Ibarra, Ecuador. This may be a good time to download Map.me as any trip to Piñán will likely mean losing a GPS signal.
Backroads, Piñan, Ecuador | photo credit: David Sasaki