Cuenca is a beautiful city in the south of Ecuador nestled in a valley at 2,560m in the Andes. It is a green, lush colonial city with numerous cathedrals dotted throughout and a rich Incan history with ruins close to the city center and some more impressive ruins in the surrounding villages. It was an easy four hour bus ride from Guayaquil and then a couple of dollar taxi ride from the terminal to our guesthouse near the main square. We spent one day exploring the city by foot and then on our second day we ventured out to the Ingapirca ruins.
There are numerous museums around the city but they are mostly all closed on Monday so we didn’t end up visiting any of them but we could still access la Ruinas de Todos los Santos near the museos del banco central. The ruins were mostly old foundations but it was still impressive to see. Below the ruins there are some gardens and an old Incan irrigation system. There is also an awful bird enclosure with toucans, large parrots, falcons, hawks and eagles. Some of the birds were in terrible condition and the eagles in particular were far too big for the size of the enclosures.
Our trip out to Ingapirca was pretty easy as there is a direct bus from the terminal at 9am. It’s scenic a two hour bus ride through the mountains and it only cost $2.50 each way. Once at the ruins it was $6 to get in which included a guided tour in English or Spanish. The ruins are of Cañari and Incan origin. The Cañari were the first known inhabitants of the area. The ruins consisted of foundations of homes, small syndical buildings that were used for drying maize, a priest burial and a Sun Temple. The Sun Temple was very impressive and was used to measures the equinoxes and solstices using the shadow of the sun at sunset, it was then known when crops could be planted and harvested. There was also a large rock with holes in it which is believed to have been used by the Cañari as a lunar calendar.
There is also the Cajas National park close to Cuenca that is suppose to have some great hikes. After Cuenca we took a bus to Mancora, Peru.