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15 TOP THINGS TO DO NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR

 

  1. Stroll the colonial streets of Old Town Cuenca;

  2. Visit the Inmaculada Concepcion Cathedral;

  3. Buy flowers at the flower market in front of the Santuario Mariano Church;

  4.  Relax a while at the Calderon Park at the Plaza Central;

  5. Walk or Bike Along the Rio Tomebamba;

  6. Visit the Rafael Paredes Panama hat shop and watch the hats being make;

  7. Enjoy a delicious meal in one of the colonial restaurants like the Posada del Angel;

  8. Saunter the illuminated town at night passing by the former Catedral El Sagrario;

  1. Learn about the Cañari culture at the Banco Central Pumapungo Museum;

  2. Admire the ruins of the Cañari/Incia city of Pumapungo;

  3. Have a shoe-shine in the gallery of the Plaza Calderon;

  4. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Indigenous Art;

  5. Go shopping at one of the many Indian Art stands;

  6. Make an excursion to the nearby Cajas National Park;

  7. At just an hour from Cuenca you will find the famous Ingapirca Inca/Cañari fortress.

Colonial Old Town Cuenca

15 TOP THINGS TO DO NEAR CUENCA ECUADOR! World Heritage Sites: Colonial Cuenca, Ingapirca & Cajas Park. 5 Best museums

At a road distance of ±440km from Quito, Cuenca, at an elevation of 2500 masl, is located in the Andes of Ecuador slightly lower than capital Quito. With about half a million inhabitants, Cuenca, capital of the Azuay Province, is the third largest city of the country. The colonial center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage for its beautiful colonial buildings. Most tourists visit the historic part of town, which is small and incredibly charming. No doubt, colonial old town Cuenca is among the ten most beautiful historic cities of Latin America and absolutely worth a visit. Rather poorly known internationally, the streets are dominated by the Cuenqueños (inhabitants from Cuenca), even during the tourist season, while there are so many things to do in Cuenca, Ecuador.

 

Dear visitor, our website gives you info about our National Parks Tours, our Galapagos programs, the Cuyabeno Loop, as well as our Cuyabeno  and Cofan Lodges in the Amazon.   For those who want to combine the Exuberant Nature of Ecuador with the Famous culture of Peru, we even have a 7 days Highlights of Peru extension! Our website gives you the best information on the internet, because we are the only tour operator run by professional biologists. Take a look:

 

OUR PARKS AND TRIBES ECO TOURS

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Indians take you in their agile dug-out canoes along winding rivers.

STANDARD COFAN LODGE TOUR

Start your Cuyabeno journey on Ecuador's most scenic wide Amazon tributary, the Aguarico River. Spend 3 nights in the Cofan Lodge, exploring the lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers.

 

 

Price: $ 499

 4 days

Children learning about the rainforest.

CUYABENO LOOP

The Cuyabeno Loop explores the breathtaking scenery of lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the amazing birds and wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing Cofan Indians in the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of comfort in the famous Cuyabeno Lodge.

Price: $ 799

5 days

 

Birdwatching by visitors of the Amazon in Ecuador

LAGARTO COCHA EXPEDITION

The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden creeks and lakes is the best Amazon journey in Ecuador! Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths, Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní!

 

Price: $ 1099

7 days

excursion on Lake Cuyabeno

CUYABENO LAKE PROGRAM

The Cuyabeno Lake Program explores all the wild places surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake. Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia trees with the whispering of the mysterious prehistoric Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and Yellow Macaws. Our Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location, because we were the first and chose the best location on a seasonal island in the Cuyabeno Lake itself.

Price: from $ 410

4 - 5 days

 

Alpacas in Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve are the domesticated form of the vicuñas.

NORTHERN ANDES TOUR

Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a taste of some of the best Andean National Parks, visiting the highest groves in the world: the Polylepis trees, the highest mountain in the world calculated from the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and Lamas, the highest active volcano in the world, the Cotopaxi.

 

 

Price: from $1149

5 days

San Rafael Falls

NATIONAL PARKS TOUR

Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic journey along the best possible sample of Andean and coastal parks. They have been designed to complement Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places, particularly Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days, it is possible to make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes and Coast" module.

Price: $ 1999

9 days

 

Bartelome Island at Galapagos National Park

GALAPAGOS LAST MINUTE

We have a fabulous selection of Galapagos programs, including cruises, island hopping, scuba diving or relaxing on one of the many different hotels varying from modest inns to deluxe resorts.

 

 

Price: from $ 550

from 3 days

Inca wall in Cusco.

PERU HIGHLIGHTS

A fabulous program for visiting the most famous cultural highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. At the same time it serves as the Lima hub for the Peru National Parks Tour. This module is an extension to our National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park and/or Amazon Cruises.

Price: $ 1199

7 days

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The first major settlement was named Guapondeleg and built by the Canari people. About 50 years before the Spanish arrived, the Incas conquered the Canari and rebuilt and renamed the city Tomebamba. Nevertheless, when the Spanish arrived the city had been largely abandoned. The reason remains a mystery. Indians told the Spanish stories about golden buildings and splendor in Tomebamba and of course it became one of the candidate places for the El Dorado myth. The Spanish founded Cuenca - named after the city in Spain - on the ruins of Tomebamba in 1957 and used stones of the ruins for the construction on their new buildings, including for the Sagrario Church.

 

While not known for any specific economic activity in particular, the city is relatively prosperous with a variety of different economic activities. From a touristic point of view, it is important for the aforementioned UNESCO World Heritage nomination of its old town Cuenca with its colonial monuments. Interestingly enough, the Panama hats are not produced in Panama, but in Cuenca and many tourists buy themselves one of those wonderful ornaments. Of course, the fashion has evolved and nowadays, Panama hats are available in many shapes and colors for both men and women, including modern straw caps. I recently revisited Cuenca after many years and was amazed by the outstanding state of restoration of almost all the colonial buildings and monuments and of course, I bought several Panama hats in the large shop at the south side of the Calle Largo (see detailed map by clicking on the map below).

 

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Map of Old Town Cuenca.

Map of old town Cuenca.

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14 Best Things to do in and around Cuenca Ecuador

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Concepción Inmaculada Church, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Concepción Inmaculada Church entrance, Old Town Cuenca.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Flower market, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Concepción Inmaculada Church, a fabulous brick building, Old Town Cuenca.

Debatably the Inmaculada Concepcion Cathedral is one of the most impressive cathedrals of Ecuador. Construction started in 1885, so it is not at all a colonial cathedral and not all that old for South American standards. It replaced the old cathedral, the Iglesia del Sagrario. Across the street, in front of the Santuario Mariano Church you find a beautiful flower market.

 

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Concepción Inmaculada main door, Old Town Cuenca.

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WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Colonial building in Cuenca, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: City Hall Gallery of Cuenca, Old Town Cuenca.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: colonial street in old town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: historical street in old town Cuenca.

Though tourists are present, the colonial streets of Cuenca are dominated by Ecuadorians living their day to day lives.

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WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Shoe shine stand in the gallery of the Immaculada Concepcion Cathedral, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Shops and vendors at the gallery of the Plaza Calderon with Cuenquenos going about their business, Old Town Cuenca.

Shoe shine stand in the gallery of the Immaculada Concepcion Cathedral.

Shops and vendors at the gallery of the Plaza Calderon with Cuenquenos going about their business.

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BEST TIME TO VISIT CUENCA ECUADOR [10 YEAR WEATHER DATA]: Sunny in the morning until noon when the clouds move in.

Famelies relaxin alog the Rio Tomebama.

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WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Old Cathedral Sagrario, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Interior Museum Former Cathedral Sagrario, Old Town Cuenca.

Construction of the Catedral El Sagrario started in 1567 with stones from the ruins of Tomebamba. For centuries this old colonial church served as Cuenca's main church and later as cathedral until the Immaculada Concepcion Cathedral took over that function. It was no longer used for regular services and after its restoration in 1999, the church became a museum of religious arts, concerts and cultural events.

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WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: San Fransisco Church, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: San Sebastian Church, Old Town Cuenca.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Santa Domingo Church, Old Town Cuenca.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Santuario Mariano Monestry with flower market, Old Town Cuenca.

 

San Fransisco Church, top left.

The San Sebastian Church, top right.

In front of the Santuario Mariano Church is a very picturesque flower market. above.

Santo Domingo Church, left.

 

 

Panama Hats

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Panama Hat shop, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Rafael Paredes Panama Hat factory and shop, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Panama Hat production, Old Town Cuenca.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Panama Hat shop Rafael Paredes, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Traditional Panama Hats, Old Town Cuenca.Cuenca Panama Hats sold in Otavalo.

Rafael Paredes is probably your best deal for shopping for a Panama hat. Located on the South side of Calle Largo, you can recognize it by the display of a hat on the wall. The actual shop is deeper inside. It is a great place because there are hatmakers weaving the hats behind the displays. The prices are pretty much what you pay at the small shops but here you have a great selection of both men and women's hats and the quality is rather nice. The shop also includes a great workshop where you can see how hats are being made, as well as a Panama Hat Museum, which we further elaborate at our webpage Museums of Ecuador and on Museums of Cuenca.

 

There is a more upscale shop, that looks more sophisticated, but other than a slicker display and higher prices, I could not see any difference in the products. For those that can't make it to Cuenca, shops are also found in Quito at the Mercado Mariscal and the shops in Ejido Park. An alternative location is the Plaza de los Ponchos en Otavalo.

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15 BEST MUSEUMS IN CUENCA [WHAT, WHERE, WHEN]: Banco Central Museum.15 BEST MUSEUMS IN CUENCA [WHAT, WHERE, WHEN]: Museum indigenous cultures, interior.

Archaeological Museum of Indigenous Art with more than 5000 objects of pre-Columbian and recent historical periods.

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Inca Ruins of Pumapungo

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Pumapungo Ruins, Old Town Cuenca.WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Former Inca Regional Center and Cañari Capital Pumapungo, Old Town Cuenca.

The Inca city of Pumapungo was supposed to be more beautiful than Cusco, but no European has ever seen the city in its full glory as the city was abandoned and destroyed some time before the Spanish arrived. It now is an archeological site at the South side of colonial Cuenca and managed as part of the Pumapungo Museum of the Banco Central.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Reconstruction of the Cañari Capital Pumapungo, Old Town Cuenca.

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Posada del Angel

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Hotel Posada del Angel, Old Town Cuenca.

WHAT R THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR CUENCA, ECUADOR 2019?: Posada del Angel Hostel, Old Town Cuenca.

Go shopping at one of the many Indian art stands.

7 BEST ART AND CRAFTS MARKETS OF QUITO [GREAT SHOPPING!]: Table Cloths at art market, Quito, Ecuador

When in colonial old town Cuenca, I stayed in the lovely Posada del Angel Hotel, owned and operated by an extremely capable and nice Argentine family, great food and good wine for a reasonable price. For our Southern package we like to book you in this hotel.

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10 INGAPIRCA FACTS [INCA RUINS]: Ingapirca Temple of the Sun with inca wallsBEST EL CAJAS NATIONAL PARK TOURS: Cajas National Park Cuenca, Ecuador Pantano con lago glacial

At just an hour from Cuenca you will find the famous Ingapirca Inca/Cañari fortress.

The 42m deep Llaviuco Lake in Cajas National Park. is just a half hour away.

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Cuenca is your most convenient hub for seeing

City tours are almost daily available. Our Andes Trek, Ecuador program includes the best National Parks of Ecuador in the Andes as well as the famous cultural highlights, like Quito, Cuenca and Ingapirca.  Please contact us for information, rates and bookings.

 

For detailed information on climate and weather conditions read: climate of Cuenca, Ecuador; climate Galapagos Islands in Ecuador; climate in the Amazon of Ecuador and climate of Ecuador. If you want to learn more about the country, read Ecuador Facts.

 

PARKS & TRIBES and the COFAN LODGE have their sales office inside:

Hotel Balmoral, Address: Calle Moreno Bellido E6-57 & Avenida Amazonas, Quito

Telephone: (++593)(02) 2 50 5310, Cell phone: (++593) (0) 96 29 35 271

Email: [email protected]

Skype: ecotravelworldwide

Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website and founder of Parks and Tribes. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature. https://www.facebook.com/DrDaanVreugdenhil, https://www.linkedin.com/in/drdaanvreugdenhil/. He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador, including. Yasuní and Cuyabeno, the latter of which he he later recommended to be expanded from originally 150,000ha to 600,000ha, together with then Cuyabeno director Prof. Dr. Flavio Coello and Parks and Tribes partner. Daan is also the founding father of the Cuyabeno Lodge and co-manager of the Cofan Lodge.