Cajas National Park & Cuenca City Tour

If you’re on a tight schedule this tour is ideal for seeing the highlights of Cuenca and its surroundings. You’ll start the day with a morning hike in Cajas National Park, before returning to Cuenca for lunch and a guided tour of the historic center.


Description

Only 30 minutes from Cuenca, Cajas National Park will be one of the highlights of your travel in Ecuador and is a paradise for both birdwatchers and hikers alike. The hikes and walking time will depend on your particular interest and skills.
 
You’ll then return to Cuenca for lunch before taking an afternoon city tour of the historic city center, followed by a short drive to Turi to take in incredible panoramic views of the city and a visit to a Panama hat factory.
 

This tour includes

· A bilingual (English/Spanish) guide
· Private transportation
· Lunch
 

This tour does not include

· Travel insurance
· Tips
· Any other service not mentioned herein
 

Group Tours in Ecuador

We’ve created a selection of group tours with regular departures for those traveling around Ecuador on a budget.

Highlights

Cajas National Park
Cajas National Park is located about 33 km west of Cuenca in Southern Ecuador. The park covers about 285 km2 at an altitude of between 3100m and 4450m above sea level. It is famous for its characteristic tundra vegetation covering hills and valleys. There are about 270 lakes and lagoons throughout the park. The name of the park comes from the Quichua word cassia which translates as gateway to the snowy mountains, though some link it to the Spanish word cajas meaning boxes due to the hundreds of lakes.
Polylepis trees
Also known as Quinoa or the paper tree, Polylepis trees grow above 3300 meters and shed their bark in thin layers to prevent growth of parasites.
Birds
With over 150 species identified so far, Cajas National Park is a birdwatchers paradise. If you are looking to do some bird watching there are plenty of hummingbirds, including the giant hummingbird. Other birds known to live in the park include the Andean Condor, Curiquinga, the violet-throated metaltail, the great-horned owl, the gray breasted mountain toucan, the powerful woodpecker, turquoise jay, Andean ruddy duck and the caranculated caracara.
Mammals
Cajas National Park is home to a wide range of animals including endemic and endangered species. Within Cajas National Park you might have the chance to see the American rabbit, the common South American fox, white-tailed deer, the domesticated lama and alpaca, different kinds of opossums, cats and bats, pumas, coatis, weasels, skunks, porcupines, shrews and the Cajas water mouse.
Plaza de las Flores
Located next to the New Cathedral and Carmen de la Asunción Church, this square is known for its daily flower market. Here you can buy a wide variety of fresh flowers including arum lilies and lush tropical blooms, plants and bouquets which set the cobbled town square ablaze with color.
Museum of Modern Art
Restored in 1982 the Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno is located on the captivating plaza de San Sebastián and is worth a visit if only for the building itself and its lovely courtyards. Besides its permanent collection, it has temporary exhibitions of Ecuadorian and international modern art.
New Cathedral
The New Cathedral, otherwise known as La Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción, is clearly visible from all over Cuenca and its sky-blue domes have become symbols of the city. It flanks the west side of Parque Calderon, Cuenca’s central plaza. One of its main features are the stained-glass windows by Basque artists Guillermo Larrázabal and ornate gold high altar.
Mirador de Turi
This is the perfect place from which to take in incredible panoramic views of Cuenca perched high on a hillside in the southern suburb of Turi.
Panama hat factory
Homero Ortega hat factory makes some of the best Panama hats in the business. In case you didn’t know, Panama hats are not made in Panama. They are correctly called toquilla straw hats and were first produced in Ecuador in the 17th century and shipped to the rest of the world via Panama. Homero Ortega is an ideal place to understand the history of this iconic headwater. There is a small museum showing the history of the company and the evolution of the Panama hat making process. You’ll also have the opportunity to wander around the factory where they prepare the materials used and create the final product.

 

Rates

Tour type # passengers Price (per person)
Private 1 $126
Private 2 $115
Private 3 $84
Private 4-5 $73
Private 6-7 $58
Private 8-9 $52
Private 10-15 $50
Private 16-25 $46
Private 26+ $47