Cajas National Parque – Cajas Park is a great place to go walking, hiking, fishing, dining, souvenir shopping, and simply enjoying the magnificent beauty of the mountains. Cajas is about an hour from Cuenca. We hiked up to one of the many lakes within the mountains; the hike was invigorating and makes for a splendid day trip. There are several different trails to choose from.
Cajas is chillier than Cuenca by about ten or more degrees so bring appropriate attire. Also we recommend having a tour guide or a local Ecuadorian to take you that knows the hiking trails. It is easy to get lost. We had a Ecuadorian friend take us that knows the area. Here’s the video of our hike to Cajas.
Chordeleg – Silver haven of the Andes Mountains. This is a quaint little town and is little over an hour from Cuenca by bus. Jewelry shops line the cute historical center, and in the middle of town is a beautiful little park much like Park Calderon but only half the size. The people are very friendly in Chordeleg, however there have been reports of a few gold scammers that have ripped off some tourists who bought gold from them. Be sure you know what you are buying. Here is the news story about this.
Gaualaceo – Gualaceo is about an hour from Cuenca by bus. It is a small city that boasts all the amenities you can get in Cuenca. There is a small mall with several retail clothing and shoe stores. Speaking of shoe, on the weekends a local told us that you can buy shoes in the city center area for like half off because they make a lot of the shoes they sell. Gualaceo has lots of restaurants, little stores, a post office, and numerous mom and mom type shops. The park square in the center of town is beautiful. For those who like the small town feel, Gualaceo is about the perfect size.
Paraiso Parque – Paraiso Park is located in Cuenca. This park is huge with walking trails, duck ponds, several playgrounds, picnicking, and paddle boat rides. There is plenty of room for the smaller children to run around, play ball, and enjoy the big outdoors. This park is clean and very well manicured; bring a blanket and lay it out on the green grass and enjoy a day at Paraiso Park.
Mall Del Rio – Mall del Rio is a great place to enjoy the day when it is rainy and wet outside, which is often the case in the summertime in Cuenca. Mall Del Rio is a nice-sized mall with a huge food court. You won’t go hungry with all the different varieties of foods to choose from. Right outside the mall there are go-carts for the kids to ride and inside the mall, besides all of the shopping there is a movie theater that boasts four or five different movies every day! Some will have English subtitles.
There is always a lot more to do in and around Cuenca that we did not list here. These activities are just a few of the things that we have done and have enjoyed on family outings.