Tag Archives: Ecuador

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Cajas National Park (near Cuenca, Ecuador)

For those visiting Cuenca, I highly recommend Cajas national park. Its just outside Cuenca, but offers excellent hiking and takes you a world apart. At the park entrance, you pay the fee and the park ranger will give you an excellent map and show you what hikes are available. The trails are very well marked and the scenery is simply beautiful.

Getting there

Get on a bus going to Guayaquil. It costs $2 per ride, even though its only 1/2 hour per ride (its roughly $1 for every one hour of bus rides) to get off at the entrance to the park. $2 entrance fee for maps and trash bag. Restroom facilities can be used here.
We walked the pink route which is clearly marked. This is a scenic and easy route. We packed our lunches at the hostel and stopped for lunch. Eventually you will hit the road back to Cuenca – flag any bus heading back and climb on. As easy as that!
El Cajas is beautiful and has a surprising mix of landscapes. Gentle meadows with creeks flowing through and stark mountain vistas abound. 
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Cuenca – Ecuador’s suave colonial city

Cuenca in southern Ecuador seems to have it all – cute colonial streets, a bustling plaza, good cultural scene, great restaurants and excellent weather. It was our last big city stop in Ecuador.

Cuenca is the sort of place to put on some comfortable walking shoes and just wander around. If you get bored and crave the outdoors, a 1/2 hour bus ride is Cajas National Park, which offers excellent and safe hiking. The towns of Chordeleg, Sigsig and Gualaceo are a convenient day trip to get in some small town culture. We were accompanied by our Chinese friend Bones while we were in Cuenca and we even managed to celebrate Pongal together.

A small photo tour of Cuenca:

Local sweet stall

at the plaza

Cajas NP

Waiting for the sun to rise at the bus station

Local snacks

We were just walking and saw this performance at the plaza as we passed by. No idea why.

Complete Guide to Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador

Some information about the Quilotoa Loop and how to go about doing it. There are many ways to do it. Here, with this plan, you can do it even if you do not want to trek, but just want a very different experience.

Nearest big city is Latacunga. From the terrace of Hostal Tiana, you can get a clear view of the Cotopaxi. Latacunga has a vibrant market and plenty of ‘peluquerias’. 

Quito to Latacunga:

From Quito’s Terminal Quitumba – its the last stop on the troll bus on circuits C2 and C4. Buses are color coded and 25 c a ride. Wait for empty trole. 1.50 ticket + 0.20 terminal fee. Really swanky bus terminal. Looks better than many airports sans long security lines. Ticket counter 20/21 have tickets for Latacunga. 1.5 hr bus ride. Hostal Tiana very cute place to stay. Bunks are really spacious and have reading lamps.

Quilotoa:

  • Bus from Latacunga departs at 11 AM. Terminal #16 Vivero bus.
  • Bus costs $2.50 per person and there is a bus later in the afternoon. There is also a minivan that leaves for Latacunga around 3 PM.
  • Around 1.30 PM to 2.30 PM, there is a bus that goes to Chugchillan from Quilotoa. Need to wait from 1.30 pm on the street.
  • Latacunga to Quilotoa bus timings – 10, 11.30, 2 and 3.30
  • Hostal Chukirawa @ $10/person including breakfast and dinner. Clean rooms. 

Chugchillan:

  • Mama Hilda hostel – food + stay @ $30/2 people. There are other hostels too.
  • Lovely hostel with great hosts
  • Milk truck leaves at 8.30-9.30 AM in the morning to Sigchos. Or early AM bus ~ 4.30 AM. $2/person.
  • Bus ride to Chugchillan @ $1

Sigchos:

  • Bus from Latacunga to Sigchos @ $1.80/person. Easily available from the bus terminal. 
  • We walked into a nice restaurant at Sigchos and requested them to make me a vegetarian meal. $3.60 for 2.