cuenca-WHAT TO DO
Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city. Also it is known for the unique heritage, the churches and the architecture. Herewith comes the Nickname Athens of Ecuador. I wanted to know how the City handles all the expectations.
Here I share my experiences with you: How did I get there? Where did I stay? What did I do and see in Cuenca?
My way to started from the Quitumbe Bus Terminal. From there I took a direct bus to the Cuenca, which is a 9-hour drive. Alternatively, you can book a direct flight from Quito to Cuenca.
The trips organized by SOLEQ.travel are normally planned with an English speaking guide and private transport, so that the journey is much more comfortable. In addition, the guide has a lot to tell about Ecuador and so it is easier to get to know a lot of the country in a short time!
I arrived at the main Bus Terminal in Cuenca in the morning and went straight to my accommodation. This time I decides to stay in a Hostel close to the Historic City Center. Normally SOLEQ.travel has a selection of approved Hotels and also provides you with a Guide.
Inca Ruins - Pumapungo Archaeological Park
Cuenca offers a lot of historical monuments and history. Therefore, I decided to visit the Inca Ruins. They’re close to the Historic Centre and part of a Museum. The entry is free and you get access to all the interesting information from this ancient period. Further it is well preserved and constantly maintained. Therefore, I can highly recommend this place If you are interested in the culture of the Incas.
Cajas National Park
This destination is not in Cuenca but it is very close and utterly amazing. I decided to spent a whole day within Cajas National Park because there is so much to see and it is so diverse. You basically get a wonderful Andean landscape. More than 270 Lagoons and Lakes, Mountains up to 4450m high and 28.808 ha to explore. A special attitude here is the weather, since it changes continuously. You can reach Cajas easily with public transportation. Once you are there, you will find the tourist information center. The staff there will explain you all about the different routes and other necessary information. The hikes varying from 2 hours up to 8 hours.
We decided to choose a route which was about 6 hours. Unluckily we had a lot of rain the day before so it was kind of moody. So make sure to be prepared with accurate equipment. Also we had many clouds, weak rain and a cold wind coming and going. Once we reached the top at around 4500m we had to wait till we got a clear view. But it was totally worth it to go up the highest mountain!
Once you’re done with the hike there is a restaurant next to the tourism information. Also the bus station is nearby.
One activity close to Cuenca is the Rescue Center Amaru Biopark. This place is not just a normal zoo. The staff takes care of ill animals and to those who wouldn’t survive in their natural habitat. Another big difference is the creation of the ecosystems for each animal in an actual forest. Every species lives in their preferred environment. Additionally, they put a lot of effort in research, education, recreation, management, breeding, and conservation of biodiversity.
I decided to start my trip at midday. The only way to get there is by private transport, even though it is not far away from the City Centre itself. Once I arrived at the Amaru Biopark they taught me some basic rules about the Rescue Center. Also they informed me that the visit takes at least 2 hours. This is pretty accurate because I also needed 2 hours. Make sure to bring time for this visit, because you don’t want to rush trough it. I personally enjoyed the whole Biopark even though I don’t like zoos. They made it so comfortable and nature like for the animals, which is a big plus in my opinion. Once I was done they even called me a private transport, which was pretty useful as well.
To get more information about the price and the directions visit their Homepage.
Other things to see
Those recommendations are just a very small part out of all the things you can see and do in this lovely City Cuenca. You can always spend time in the Old City Center and discover the markets, local restaurants and the historic buildings as well as the churches. Also there are a lot of Museums or the workshop´s for the infamous Panama Hats. On almost every day you can walk around the River Tomebamba and enjoy this quiet and beautiful riverside. Cuenca is a very safe city and offers a good vibe for the tourists. I enjoyed all of Cuenca and highly recommend to take time with you guys!
For more information about what else there is to discover in the south of Ecuador, read our blog article “A journey to the South of Ecuador“. If you want to visit other natural wonders of the country, you can find information about national parks in Ecuador here.
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