If you enjoy the activities occurring in this city, you'll also enjoy the activities outside Cuenca. There are many of them, and they're all very different.
Just outside the town of Cañar, which was the center of the Cañari civilization that thrived before the Incas arrived, is the large Incan ruin known as Ingapirca (Complejo Arqueológico Ingapirca).
Day trips are available, or go out and spend the night at one of the hotels there.
If you're a fan of hydroelectric dams, you can visit the one an hour or so past Paute, which generates about 35% of Ecuador's power.
Gualaceo (pronounced hwall-a-SAY-o) is the flower production center of this part of Ecuador. There are also some crafted items you'll want to see, including a family that does some gorgeous woven shawls, scarves and other items, all done on equipment that they use while sitting on the floor.
East of Gualaceo is Chordeleg, a town built around silver jewelry. If you like earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and small works of art all done in silver, you'll love Chordeleg.
Just five minutes or so by taxi is the town of Baños, where you can enjoy nice warm swimming pools and steam baths all powered by the hot springs there.
One of them is the Hostería Durán hot pool and spa.
Another, newer and more luxurious hot pool and spa is Piedra de Agua Fuente Termal & Spa.
Farther south is the Yunguilla Valley, a popular location for expats who want to live in a warmer climate than Cuenca's. The lower elevations have bugs, so if you're not a fan of being dined upon, you may not like it much.
The valley has an extreme sports park and a water park for the younger crowd.
Cajas National Park offers several activities outside Cuenca. This large park sits on the western edge of the city. Formerly a national recreation area, the park, much of it well above 10,000 feet in elevation, is dotted with lakes (some large, most of them small) where you can fish. Camping and hiking are permitted in certain parts of the park. And mountain biking is also popular.
Whether you like to shop, or you're more into outdoor activities, or you love to learn about past cultures, you'll find more than enough to keep you busy on a trip to Cuenca. In fact, you may just need to move here to enjoy all the activities outside Cuenca that are available to you.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!