Ecuador: Cuenca

Select Experience Tour, Ecuador: CuencaSelect Experience Tour, Ecuador: Cuenca

Ecuador

Cuenca

overview

Find inspiration in Ecuador’s Andean city of Cuenca—a UNESCO World Heritage site surrounded by high peaks—where the charming colonial center invites exploration of centuries of architectural styles. Dramatic walks take in Andean vistas and a spectacular national park, teeming with rare bird life, luxuriant orchids, and rolling grasslands. A boutique hotel in the historic center is a perfect base for relaxation and a hand’s-on cooking class is a delicious introduction to Ecuador’s bounty.

 

Activity Level
Activities vary and
are accessible to
most fitness levels;
see full itinerary
Meet
Aeropuerto Internaciona
Mariscal Lamar, Cuenca
Depart
Aeropuerto Internacional
Mariscal Lamar, Cuenca
Daily Itinerary
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itinerary
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4 days, 3 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Three breakfasts, three lunches, one dinner
  • Accommodations in a boutique hotel
  • Full-day private guided walking tour of Cuenca (including private cooking lesson) with an expert bilingual guide
  • Two days of private guided walking excursions with an expert bilingual guide
  • Entry to volcanic hot spring pools at Piedra de Agua Thermal Spa
  • Transportation from the meeting point to the departure point, including airport transfers
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW staff
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy
Single supplement + $0 

*Surcharges may apply for New Year’s, Christmas, or other national holidays

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Cuenca
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2
Cuenca
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3
Cuenca
View on map
4
Cuenca
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Day 1

Cuenca

Arrival to Cuenca; Private guided city tour and hands-on cooking class

After arrival in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest city, you depart from your hotel on a private guided walking tour of the historical center—declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its setting and beautifully preserved Spanish- and French-influenced colonial architecture. Located in the Andes at just over 8,000 feet, the city is situated at the confluence of four rivers that drain into the Amazon Basin. It was originally settled by the Cañari people, who were conquered by the Inca. With the arrival of the Spanish, colonial churches and monasteries were constructed in a grid system. Now, narrow cobbled streets are lined with buildings dating from between the 17th and 19th centuries, and an archaelogical park in the city center highlights ancient Pumapungo Inca ruins. As you explore the city you’ll notice the especially striking traditional clothes of the regional indigenous women— brightly colored skirts, white blouses, and ikat scarves. And you’ll immediately recognize their Panama hats—unfortunately misnamed for another country—the sombrero de paja toquilla originated in this region, and you’ll have the opportunity to visit the straw-weaving artisans who make them.

Later, for the perfect entrée into local culture, you’ll take an Ecuadorian-cuisine cooking class—a delicious balance of European and Andean traditions. Doña Teresa welcomes you into her family home of more than a century. Pictures of her grandparents’ wedding proudly hang on the walls. The menu may feature locro, a potato-based soup served with melted cheese and avocado, and mote pillo, a traditional hominy dish with eggs and sautéed onions. After participating as much (or as little) as you like, the table is set for everyone to enjoy this traditional midday repast. Returning to your hotel in the late afternoon, you have the remainder of the evening free to explore the city or relax at your comfortable hotel.

Boutique Hotel Mansion Alcazar

Cuenca, Ecuador

An intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Cuenca’s historical center offers elegant rooms individually decorated with rich fabrics and unique antiques and artwork. The fine-dining restaurant overlooks the lush interior courtyard garden; a bar and library and television lounge room are also on the premises.

Day 2

Cuenca

Guided walk from Tolapaloma to Quebrada El Salado; 5 miles, easy to moderate, elevation loss of 1,600 ft.

After a copious breakfast in your hotel, a 10-mile drive takes you outside Cuenca to the start of a guided walk in a high valley. In this landscape that defines the Andean Cordillera range, a series of rolling hills and ravines open up to dramatic views alternating between forest and open grassland. Flora along the trail include orchids and other hanging epiphytes, as well as polilepis trees, whose dense foliage is unique to the Andes. You may also spot a number of hummingbirds in the region. A steady descent along a dirt and fine gravel trail leads you to a restaurant and spa that features volcanic hot spring pools. (The walk can be shortened if you wish. Your guide can instruct the driver to provide a transfer at various points along the trail.) Indulge in a lunch of local specialties followed by the option to relax in various mineral pools or a Turkish bath (massages are available at an additional expense) before the short drive back to Cuenca. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to continue exploring the city.

Boutique Hotel Mansion Alcazar

Cuenca, Ecuador

An intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Cuenca’s historical center offers elegant rooms individually decorated with rich fabrics and unique antiques and artwork. The fine-dining restaurant overlooks the lush interior courtyard garden; a bar and library and television lounge room are also on the premises.

Day 3

Cuenca

El Cajas National Park: guided walk in Llaviuco Valley; easy to moderate, 2 miles, easy (at an elevation of 10,367 ft.)

This morning you set off to the countryside surrounding Cuenca— about a 25-mile drive—toward the picturesque cattle ranches of the Llaviuco Valley, and spectacular El Cajas National Park, a protected area of approximately 71,000 acres rising from 10,000 to 14,000 feet. El Cajas is known for its amazing 230 glacial lakes, tundra ecosystem, and mountain vistas. At the park’s lowest elevation, a loop walk takes you around the U-shaped glacially formed Lake Llaviuco. You’ll be surrounded by rolling grassland, wild quinoa, and rosemary. Especially rich in bird-life, the park is home to the endangered South American condor as well as the giant hummingbird and the curiquinga, a large black-and-white raptor—be sure to bring your binoculars. Andean fox, white-tailed deer, and spectacled bear are also found here. Descending through lush cloud forest, you return to Cuenca in the later afternoon to enjoy a final evening in its charming colonial center.

Boutique Hotel Mansion Alcazar

Cuenca, Ecuador

An intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Cuenca’s historical center offers elegant rooms individually decorated with rich fabrics and unique antiques and artwork. The fine-dining restaurant overlooks the lush interior courtyard garden; a bar and library and television lounge room are also on the premises.

Day 4

Cuenca

Departure from Cuenca

After breakfast, you depart the hotel at your leisure and transfer to the airport for your onward travels.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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