January 18, 2016

10 Places to Take Your Family & Friends when They Visit Cuenca Ecuador

Having family or friends come visit you in Cuenca and you're not sure what to do for the duration of their visit? The dilemma of wondering what to do all day, besides the usual stuff like eating out and shopping, can be uncertain. What else can you do with your family and friends while they visit you in Ecuador? Here’s 10 days worth of neat places to see in and around Cuenca. Hope you like nature and walking.
Cajas National Park - Outskirts of Cuenca Ecuador
1. Cajas National Park – Breathtaking views, walking trails and lakes abound in the Cajas. You can hike as far up as you like. Bring a jacket and a winter hat, much cooler than Cuenca.  Expect physical exertion to the 'difficult' level if hiking. Remember, the elevation is part of that.  Later, after enjoying this nature-filled day, if you didn’t pack a picnic lunch there are several restaurants you can choose from at the bottom of the mountain. Ask the locals which one they go to for best food and prices.
Cajas National Park - Cuenca Ecuador
Getting there: Take the Alto Pista Cajas off of Avenida de Las America, drive about 10 to 15 miles and you’ll see the signs. 
Cajas Lake - Cajas National Park, outside of Cuenca Ecuador
2. Cuenca Amaru Zoo – We were pleasantly surprised with the Cuenca zoo. They have a pretty good variety of animals that are enclosed within beautiful areas (nothing artificial) alongside a hill; be prepared to walk at a slight incline through the park to view the animals. It’s a very enjoyable walk with a hiking trail-like setting. It takes at least a couple of hours to walk through if you are walking at a leisurely pace. 
Amaru Zoo in Cuenca Ecuador
Getting there: It’s located on the southeast side of Cuenca, off the Pan-American Highway. Best way to get to this zoo is hire a cab.  Just tell him you want to go to the Cuenca Amaru zoo. If the driver is not sure where it is, just get a different cab.

3. Pumapungo Ruins and Botanical Gardens – Really pretty nature areas for enjoying peace and quiet, walking trails, duck pond, beautiful flower gardens and a bird sanctuary in a park-like setting. Enjoy the free roaming llamas in this park. Clean restrooms available.

llamas in Pumapongo Botanical Park and Ruins in Cuenca Ecuador
Getting there: There are two entrances, one off of Doce de Abril and the other entrance is off of Hauyana Capac. You can also walk along Calle Larga going south to Huayana Capac and you’ll run right into the Museum. Walk behind the museum on the right side and you will run into the botanical gardens, ruins and bird sancutary.
Pumapungo - Cuenca Ecuador

4. Paraiso Park Cuenca’s biggest park has a nice duck pond with paddle boats you can rent. There are also walking trails through the woods and along the river.
 

Getting there: If walking, keep following the Tomebamba river and you will run into the park eventually. It’s located off of Paraiso Avenue and Pumapungo Avenida. You can also take Avenida Diez de Agosto going east, just keep walking until you reach the park.

5. El Centro:  For the first time visitor the old town district with all of the Victorian architecture can be amazing! You'll find lots of little shops and stores, cafe's and restaurants in old town.
 

Getting there: Any taxi knows where “El Centro” is located. Or if walking, find the Tomebamba River and walk along the path of the river and when you get to the Cuenca University or Madre Park, go up the steps and there’s the center called El Centro.
 

6. Tomebamba River Walk – To walk most of this river walk, start out on Tres de Noviembre and Las Americas. Nice walk, which takes you to El Centro, and to Paraiso Park and beyond.
 

7. Yanuncay River Walk – To walk most of this river walk, start out on Primero deMayo and Las Americas. When you get to Tres Puentes (three bridges) you can turn left on Solano and go up into old town, or keep walking and got to Paraiso Park. Or you can turn right on Remigio Crespo and you’ll run into Madre Park in El Vergel district.
 

8. El Chorro Falls – The falls are about 45 minutes from Cuenca.  Be warned only one tourist trap restaurant at the base of the mountain. You might want to pack a lunch? Nice walking trails up to the falls.
El Chorro Falls in Giron Ecuador
Getting there: If you don’t have a car, the frugal way is to take the bus from Cuenca (Terminal Terrestre) that goes to Santa Isabel; you can also catch this bus going south along Las Americas. Look for the sign that says "Santa Isabel". The bus costs $1 per person. You will not be going all the way to Santa Isabel but getting off in Giron, Then hail a taxi in Giron and have him take you up the rest of the way to El Chorro Falls for $4 to $5.
 

9. Park Calderon – If you are in El Centro, Park Calderon makes a great place to sit and relax after walking around in old town. We like to sit here and people watch and figure out what were going to do next. Many restaurants line the outskirts of the park.
 

Getting there: Park Calderon is located off of Luis Cordero and Mariscal Sucre.
 

10. Banos Pools and Spas - Natural mineral baths and massages and clay facials can be found at the spas. You’ll want to choose the adult only spas so you will not have to worry about kiddies peeing in the pool. There is NO chlorine in these pools, that’s why we’re so 'candid' about it.  

Getting there: Go south on Avenida las Americas, turn right on Avenida Ricardo Duran. /You will see a gas station where you turn right at. Keep going (end of the road and it veers to the left) about five miles. You will see the signs for the hot mineral baths. I believe the adult minerals are all the way to the end. There's about ten different pools, if you can't find the adult only pool, ask some Ecuadorians.

Until we write again.
 

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

3 comments:

  1. This is an excellent post. I'd like your permission to re-post this on my blog (grimmsecuadortraveltales.blogspot.com), which I'll give the credit to you, of course.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Patty, yes, you may use it. Glad you liked it and thanks for sharing.

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