Sitting at 2500 meters above sea level and encompassed by a lovely mountain range, Cuenca, Ecuador, the capital of the Azuay Province, is a Spanish provincial city loaded up with European appeal.
Initially, a Cañari settlement, with a rich past of conquistadors and Incas, this Unesco World Heritage site is a genuine euphoria to visit and find in your wildest dream. Most tours will cost you about $50 per person. If you are two or more people, get a taxi to take you there as we were charged $80, two people in a hotel, because it takes about 90 mins from Cuenca to get here and this is really it, just a small Inca ruin, considered to be the largest in Ecuador, but comparing it to the Peruvian Inca ones, it is tiny. So, you get here and you pay $2USD per person to get in, the price includes a guide who explains everything, not many people visit this place as the government has stopped investing in it so… pity as it is quite beautiful. From what I could see, the tour is only given in Spanish… any takers?
Another place to visit is called CAJAS. It is basically a National Park and they take you to 3 different places.
Compared to Peru, I find the prices here to be quite expensive. It will cost you about between $50-60USD and if you put other tours to it, it can go over $100USD.
However, it is a must as the views here are incredible, especially in the last part of the tour. It has over 275 lakes, many waterfalls and even people go trout fishing and camp here, but I am not sure I could do it as when the wind picks up, it is freezing. But the hikes are stunning.
If you want to travel from Guayaquil to Cuenca, it roughly takes just under 3 hours by van. The company I would recommend, which is fast, efficient, cheap and have quite new vans, is called Operazuaytur.
The price is $12USD each way per person. They usually stop at a halfway point so people can go to the toilet and buy water or so. To get from Guayaquil to Cuenca you have to go up to 4,000m above sea level and to be honest the views and being above the clouds are amazing.
Take a walk around Cuenca as the city itself is not very big and, most things are close by. This city has many fascinating engineering subtleties that can be respected while walking the lanes. Venture into one of the nearby plunges for a drink or discuss numerous neighborhood boutiques and markets as you meander about. You’ll additionally get the opportunity to appreciate the flawless work on wall paintings and decoration of various structures around the city.
Turi is the best way to see the city, by day or night, it is amazing. You can get an $8USD city tour bus, red and yellow, which will take you on many routes and show you the best places in the city with a bit of history behind the colonial buildings and that. One of the stops along the route is “El Turi”, the last bus goes here at 7pm, so my recommendation is that you go at about 6 to get a view of the city at night, but at day time is lovely too.
There are 4 rivers which run through the city and as far as I remember 2 of them merge together. Over one of the rivers there are 3 seperate bridges one next to the other. The one in the middle was used in the colonial days and is still operational today but just for people and not vehicules. A few hundred years back, horses and carts used it to cross the river. There is also a bridge called the broken bridge, again built between 1840 and 1850. A few years ago there was the phenomenon El Niño, which brought heavy rains and well Cuenca got the bulk of it previously, it was so strong that it caused a section of the massive bridge to collapse. So, when you come to Cuenca, you will see on Google Maps “El Puente Roto” or the broken bridge. People seem to love it, but we just had to visit and take a photo.
It is very accessibly open from various diverse passages all through the old town, and the stream Tomebamba offers a calm reprieve from the downtown area’s hustle and clamor. It runs along with the south side limit of the noteworthy ancient city and is, for most parts, parallel to Calle Large, one of Cuenca’s most essential and beautiful places.
Apart from Turi giving you a full view of the city. The Cathedral, which began construction in 1885 took 100 years to finish (1985) can give you a more up and close view of the city from both sides. It only costs $2USD to climb about 100 stairs (steps) the stairs is a spiral and I swear to god when I was coming back down I got dizzy as it is quite tight especially if someone is coming up and you’re going down. But good fun, nice views and great views. The Cathedral is called the new Cathedral due to a refurbishment of the tops or tips of the tours, which you can clearly see at night when they are lit up and of course during the day too. Stunning to be honest.
Cuenca offers an incredible scope of cafés for engaging exceptional taste. From lavish to reasonable, to run of the mill or western cooking, you’re sure to discover a scene to fulfill your need and joy. Treat yourself to an extraordinary lunch at Mansion Alcazar, a fancy meal at Todosantos, or stuff yourself on astonishing tacos at El Pedegral Mexican. I learned how to cook Peruvian food and to be honest Ecuadorian food was a bit if a disappointment. They serve you very little, and I was told that these are typical serving in Ecuador. A typical menu here costs around $3USD and that includes a drink, not fresh juice, starters and main course, but check out this photo…
The Museo del Banco Pumapungo hall is by a wide margin, the one that offers the most far about the Cañari and the indigenous culture of Ecuador. Try not to be misled by the dull and unassuming outside of this spot. There’s a tremendous measure of displays to see inside, numerous about the history, garments, arts, and agribusiness. This place could be a fresh start to your trip and be as refreshing as a freshly made lemonade.
Tips: Bring suncream and a hat, a nice warm coat for trekking as although it might be sunny, when the wind picks up it can be quite chilly. I would even recommend bringing a hat and ask your hotel if they have affiliations with tour agencies and do a tour every day. The city tour is a must, Cajas and Ingaprica. There is also a train tour, which for me if way to expensive, I think it was about $80 for half day. It is really up to you but Cuenca is a beautiful city to visit, take a good camera and take great photos. Any questions you can get in touch with me here or write to me on my Instagram account. Thanks for reading!