Cuenca Escape

Cuenca is the ideal base camp for exploring the best of the southern Andes of Ecuador. At TerraDiversa we’ve put together our most sought after Cuenca tours and created a special three day tour for those looking to explore the city and its surroundings such as Cajas National Park, the Incan ruins of Ingapirca or the surrounding craft-making villages.


Description

This three day package is ideal for a weekend getaway in Cuenca or to get a feel for the city and the surrounding area. When it comes to accommodation, we’ve included a selection of our favorite hotels so that you can choose the one which suite your budget and taste.
 
This tour will give you a chance to explore the highlights that Cuenca has to offer, from our Cuenca city tour that explores the historic center to a full day hiking tour of Cajas National Park in order the enjoy the spectacular scenery. We’ve also included the option of exploring either the surrounding craft-making villages including San Bartolome, Gualaceo and Chordeleg or taking a tour to Ingapirca, the most important Incan complex in Ecuador.
 

This tour includes

· Airport transfer to hotel in Cuenca
· Group tours mentioned in itinerary with professional bilingual (English/Spanish) guide and private transportation
· Accommodation based on double occupancy rates with breakfast included
· Meals included in itinerary
 

This tour does not include

· Airfare
· Entrance fee to Ingapirca $6 for foreigners and $2 for nationals
· Tips and gratuities
· Any other service not mentioned herein
 
 

Made-to-Measure Travel

This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of the available options for a visit to Cuenca. But keep in mind:

  • We can tailor this trip to suit your needs, tastes, time frame and budget
  • Every aspect of the itinerary can be modified, from the accommodation to the activities

Sample itinerary

Day 1 (Friday) - Arrival in Cuenca & city tour
Airport pick-up and transfer to hotel. Cuenca city tour to take in the highlights of the city including the historic center, the barranco, Turi and a Panama hat factory. Meals included: -/-/-
Day 2 (Saturday) - Cajas National Park
Full day tour of Cajas National Park to take in the spectacular scenery. Located only 30 minutes west of Cuenca, Cajas is a paradise for hikers. The tour begins with a moderate 3-hour hike around one of thee lakes followed by a 1 hour hike in the lower cloud forest. The tour includes a delicious lunch at las Ollas del Cajas. Meals included: B/L/-
Day 3 (Sunday) - Craft-making villages or Ingapirca & departure
On your final day you have a choice between two tours. The craft-making villages tour takes you to visit San Bartolome, Gualaceo and Chordeleg to visit a guitar workshop, local markets, and to visit skilled artisans at work. Our Ingapirca tour is a guided visit to the most important and well-preserved Incan complex in Ecuador. This tour includes a leisurely lunch at the restaurant Planeta Azul in Gualaceo and a visit to a picturesque Cañari market. You will then return to Cuenca to take your flight home. Meals included: B/L/-

 

Highlights

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.
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.
San Bartolomé
The village of San Bartolomé is best known for the production of guitars. Entire families have passed on the tradition over the years making guitars from various woods including walnut, cedar, pine, rosewood, ebony and more. San Bartolomé is located in the canton of Sigsig and the province of Azuay.
Gualaceo
Gualaceo is known as the garden of Azuay (the name of the province in which it is located). Only about an hour from Cuenca, the village is located in a fertile region best known for the production of fruit. The local market, located near the banks of the river by the same name, is also popular for the hornado (roast pork served with potato cakes and corn).
Chordeleg
Only about an hour from Cuenca, Chordeleg is best known for the many jewelry stores that line its streets and main square. The jewelry, which is mostly made from silver, is locally produced.
Bulcay
Bulcay is best known as the home of some of the last remaining ikat weavers. Only about thirty minutes from Cuenca, this is the place to watch women using traditional hand looms weaving striking colored shawls and sweaters using cotton, alpaca and wool.
Ingapirca
Located at the top of a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, Ingapirca is the most important Inca complex located in Ecuador. It was built during the Inca expansion into Ecuador at the end of the 15th century on a site that had been occupied by the Cañari people for 500 years. The original Cañari structures were mostly destroyed and replaced by the Incas and was probably used as a fortress and place of worship on the Inca road between Cuzco and Quito. Today the Temple of the Sun is the only structure that remains mostly in tact. The temple features stone walls constructed in the Inca way using massive blocks chiseled to fit together perfectly without the use of mortar.

 

Accommodation options

Hotel Price (per person) Single supplement Additional night
Río Piedra (Budget) $224 $39 $54
Posada del Angel (Tourist) $245 $46 $73
Victoria (Tourist) $262 $76 $88
Santa Lucía (First-class) $305 $165 $125