Cuenca is a tourist destination of excellence in the country. Its beautiful is manifested in colonial architecture, it’s cobblestone streets, the rivers that pass through it, its glorious gastronomy and the kindness of its people. This Andean city of Ecuador which was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, is synonymous with culture and patrimony. For this reason, and with the hope that you travel there, in this notice, we will tell you about how to get to Cuenca from Quito and from Guayaquil.
Next, we will present some information that could be useful in the moment if you are wondering how to get to Cuenca from Quito.
There are national airlines that run flights from the city of Quito to Cuenca and they leave from the Mariscal Sucre airport, located in Tababela. The flights have a duration of approximately 55 minutes.
The approximate distance between Quito and Cuenca is 287 miles (463 kilometers). In other words, the trip by land can take around 7 to 8 hours. The time depends upon climatic conditions, traffic during different parts of the route and the stops made by the bus that you are on.
There are various cooperatives that you can take in order to travel from Quito to Cuenca, and they all leave from the Terminal Terrestre de Quitumbe, and end in Terminal Terrestre de Cuenca. However, there are also bus cooperatives that leave from the capital of Azuay from the Terminal Terrestre de Carcelén, located north of the capital. The cost of tickets from Quito to Cuenca oscillates between 11 dollars USD and 12 dollars USD. The frequencey with which these busses leave tends to be every 60 minutes.
Taxi, Uber, Cabify
You can also choose from any of these options. However, they can be very expensive.
A great option for seeing Cuenca, as well as other destinations in Ecuador, in a secure way is through Ecuador Hop.
Ecuador Hop is a private company of Hop on/Hop off buses that doesn’t just take you from point A to point B, but rather takes to around to explore all of those hidden gems which are difficult to find in a travel guide. When traveling with Ecuador Hop, you only reserve one pass that covers every stop on the trip, without any need to look for some other bus or route. You can travel from point A to point B with unique and quick stops on the way in order to explore Eecuador. Or, if you prefer, you can stay at point B for as long as you like, and simply get back on the bus when you are ready to go to point C. Your tickes is valid for 1 year, which means that you can take as long as you like when travelling with Ecuador Hop.
Ecuador Hop offers you Full south to Montañita, a trip that leaves from Quito and crosses through destinations like: Ctopaxi, Quilotoa, Baños, Riobamba, Alausí, Cuenca, Guayaquil y Montañita. In order to complete this trip from start to finish you will need a minimum of 7 days, with no maximum timeframe.
Explore the colonial architecture of one of the most beautiful cities of South America.
Visit the Arqueológico de Ingapirca complex, the largest Incan ruins in all of Ecuador.
Tour the beautiful Parque Nacional Cajas, a natural reserve with a cloud forest full of diverse Andean flora and fauna.
How do you get to Cuenca from Guayaquil?
There are national airlines that offer flights from Cuenca to Guayaquil. However, they are not direct flights since they generally have a layover in the Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre (UIO) before landing at the Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal La Mar (CUE).
The approximate distance from Guayaquil to Cuenca is 122 miles (197 kilometers), which means that a bus trip can take around 3 hours and 30 minutes. The buses leave from this destination take the Naranjal route, and leave daily from the Guayaquil bus terminal.
Taxi, Uber, Cabify
You can also choose from any of these options. However, they can be very expensive.
There are private companies that carry out land trips in micro buses and vans between Guayaquil and Cuenca, which are also a good way to move yourself between these two cities.
Ecuador Hope offers two alternatives in order to get from Guayaquil to Cuenca. The first one is Full south to Quito, a trip that leaves from Guayaquil and passes through Montañita, Cuenca, Alausí, Riobamba, Baños, Quilotoa, Cotopaxi, to finally end in Quito (9 stops included). In order to complete this trip from start to finish you will need a minimum of 7 days, with no maximum timeframe. Learn about the details of this trip at:https://www.ecuadorhop.com/passes/full-south-to-quito-with-guayaquil-start/
Ecuador Hop offers you another option for getting from Guayaquil to Cuenca, through a trip called Guayaquil to Quito. On this trip you will leave from Guayaquil and pass through Cuenca, Alausí, Riobamba, Baños, Quilotoa, Cotopaxi and end in Quito (7 stops included). In order to complete this trip from start to finish you will need a minimum of 4 days, with no maximum timeframe. Learn about the details of this trip at: https://www.ecuadorhop.com/passes/guayaquil-to-quito/
The principal attractions that the pass covers in the city of Cuenca, with either of these two packets, are:
Explore the colonial architecture of one of the most beautiful cities of South America.
Visit the Arqueológico de Ingapirca complex, the largest Incan ruins in all of Ecuador
Tour the beautiful Parque Nacional Cajas, a natural reserve with a cloud forest full of diverse Andean flora and fauna.
Activities to do once you are in Cuenca
If you have arrived in Cuenca, you will wonder what to do in and around the city. Here, we tell you a little bit about what you can do.
Cuenca City Tour
Once in the city of Cuenca, we highly recommend doing the Cuenca City Tour of Best Trip Ecuador. This tour is 4 hours long, during which you will visit:
San Sebastián neighborhood
Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum)
Parque Calderón (parque central) (central park)
Iglesia del Sagrario (Catedral Vieja) (Old Cathedral)
Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción (Catedral Nueva) (New Cathedral)
Plaza de las Flores (Flower Plaza)
Mirador de Turi (Turi lookout)
Cap straw hat factory
Before beginning the tour, we pick passengers up from 5 important points of the city of Cuenca. This tour includes tourist transporation and a Bilingual Guide (Spanish – English), who will be there for your needs and will offer all of the information that you require.
Best Trip Ecuador offers you the Tour Parque Nacional Cajas, through which you can discover the famous Parque Nacional Cajas and its natural enchantments, wander around its bodies of water and enjoy the Andean landscapes of the Andes mountain range. This tour lasts all day, has daily departures and leaves from the city of Cuenca. Before arriving at the national park, which is 20.4 miles (33 km) northwest of the city of Cuenca, we pick passengers up from 5 important parts of the city of Cuenca.
On the Tour Parque Nacional Cajas you can see the principal tourist attractions of the Parque Nacional Cajas, the Toreadora and Llaviucu lakes. In fact, the tour starts with a visit to Llaviucu, where we do a 1 hour hike at 10,170 feet (3.100 m.s.n.m) (low difficulty) and then travel towards the highest part of the parke, called “Tres Cruces” at approximately 13,648 feet (4.160 m.s.n.m.).
Afterwards, we travel towards the Toreadora lake, where we do a second hike; this time at the high of 12,795 feet (3.900 m.s.n.m.). During this trip we will visit the Bosque de Polylepis “San Luis” (San Luis Polylepis Forest), and Lakes “Unidas”, Totoras, and Patoquinuas. The duration of the hike is between 2 hours and 30 – 3 hours (medium-high difficulty, depending on the climate). Finally, we will eat lunch and return to the city of Cuenca.
This tour includes: tourist transportation, a Bilingual Guide (Spanish – English), patent of tourist operation, all entrances and lunch.
Tour Ingapirca Full Day
If you are visiting the city of Cuenca in the province of Azuay, we recommend that you visit the Ingapirca Archeological complex, located 56 miles (90 km) north of Cuenca, in the province of Cañar.
The Ingapirca Archeological complex is the largest and best preserved pre-hispanic archeological complex in Ecuador. Ingapirca offers an incredible look at the past, since when visiting it you will learn about how the Cañari and Inca cultures lived together. Inside of the complex, you will find a castle (known as the temple of the sun), the place of worship, the lodging chambers, and the archeological museum, among many other things.
The best way to arrive and see this fantastic destination of Ecuador is through Tour Ingapirca Full Day of Best Trip Ecuador. The Tour Ingapirca Full Day has a duration of 8 hours, with daily departures which leave from the city of Cuenca. Before begining our tours, we pick passengers up from 5 important points in the city of Cuenca. During our trip, we take you to see the Ingapirca ruins, the indigenous Cañari market (Sundays), and the Biblián church (sanctuary of the Virgin of Rocío who can be found built into Zhalao hill). Finally, we begin the route back to the city of Cuenca to let passengers off at the same beginning points.
This tour includes: tourist transportation, a Bilingual Guide (Spanish – English) and lunch.
We recommmend that you include Cuenca on your list of places to visit in Ecuador. We are sure that you will not regret it.
In Cuenca, Ecuador you can do a tour of the city, admire its colonial quarters and squares, visit the Turi viewpoint, get to know the cap straw hat factory and travel to the nearby tourist attractions such as: Cajas National Park and the Ingapirca Ruins. We would like to show you the best activities Cuenca has to offer, with the hope that you fit them in your calendar.
Declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, Cuenca is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador, rich in history, architecture and culture. It is a reknown tourist destination in both Ecuador and internationally. Therefore, it is a place you cannot miss when you come to visit Ecuador.
The weather in Cuenca, as in the rest of the country has two seasons: rainy and dry. The hottest time of year is from March to mid May, which is when we recommend you visit. The temperature in Cuenca varies from 14°C to 18°C, and rarely goes beyond 19°C.
What to wear?
In the day, a t-shirt or light sweater is fine in Cuenca, however in the evening and at night we recommend a coat. On the other hand, if you are going to visit Cajas National Park, you will need a coat and waterproof, as well as walking boots.
Wear to stay in Cuenca?
We highly recommend Cuenca’s historical center as an area to stay in as you will be near the main attractions of the city. If you stay in the Historical Center, you will be close to the city’s cultural treasures. In San Sebastián for instance there are many hotels and hostels.
Is Cuenca worth a visit?
Our answer is yes! Cuenca is a city that posses architectural wealth, from where the name “the Athens of Ecuador” comes from. It was named as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1999 by UNESCO. Cuenca is considered to be a destination of excellence, with a wide cultural agenda and fabulous gastronomy on offer.
Is Cuenca safe?
Cuenca is a very safe destination. You can walk around the city without any issues. However, it is always wise to take basic precautions and have common sense about.
What to do in Cuenca in one day
Cuenca is a place where you need at least one full day to get to know it. However, if you extend your stay you will have no regrets as there are many destinations in the surrounding areas of this beautiful city, and you would need at least 3 days to get to know them. On the other hand, if you only one day in Cuenca, this is what you can do.
Cuenca City Tour
If your time in Cuenca is limited, we recommend you take the Cuenca City Tour where you will see some of the most important places in the city. The tour leaves every day and picks up from the main hotels in the city. The tour lasts 4 hours and visits the following places:
San Sebastián Neighbourhood
San Sebastián is a distinguished neighbourhood in Cuenca, as it was one of the first ones of the city. It is characterised by being the home of craftsmanship dedicated to pottery, tile making and tailoring, and in spite of the passing of time, it has conserved the characteristics of a traditional neighbourhood, in which there is a wonderful social cohesion.
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is located in the San Sebastián neighbourhood. This impressive museum has a permanent contemporary art exhibition, as well as temporary exhibitions from from national and foreign artists. Works of art from the International Painting Biennal are exhibited here as it is the head quarters. The museum is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm Saturday and Sunday.
Calderón Park is the main park in Cuenca. It is located on the roads of Simón Bolívar, Benigno Malo, Antonio José de Sucre and Luis Cordero. Nearby to the park you can find: the Government building, two cathedrals, the old seminary and the Palace of Justice, showcasing the park’s importance.
Plaza de las Flores
La Plaza de las Flores (Flores Square) is located in the heart of Cuenca’s historical center and is recommended for market lovers and of course, flower lovers. It is an open air market in which you can enjoy a huge variety of flowers, their colours and their smell. This open air market is world renown and is located next to the Monastery of Carmen de la Asunción.
Church of the shrine (Old Cathedral)
The Church of the Shrine, also known as the Old Cathedral of Cuenca is located opposite
Calderón park, in the city center. The church has a structure typical of a colonial basilica and is known for its magnificent gold leaf paintings and its fantastic organ with bellows. The Religious Art Museum is located inside the museum. Visiting hours are 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays.
Catedral of Immacute Conception (New Cathedral)
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, also known as the New Cathedral is a catholic church of gothic, romanesque and renaissance style. It has three domes that protrude from the roof and was inspired by the San Pedro Basilica in Rome. It is the most representative religious symbol of Cuenca and is located in front of the main square. The cathedral can be spotted from all corners of Cuenca. Once inside, you can go up the 150 spiral staircase up to the New Cathedral’s terrace and enjoy a stunning view.
Barranco is an area of semi-detached houses on the banks of the Tomebamba river, and stretches 2 km from El Vado bridge to Huayna Capac Avenue. It has a spectacular view of the Tomebamba river, where you can find many cafes and restaurants to enjoy a divine evening.
Turi Viewpoint offers panoramic views over the Tomebamba river. Turi is the name of a Cuencan parish, that “comes from the indegenous kuri language, meaning gold” (Fundación Turismo Cuenca, 2019). The viewpoint is located 10 minutes from the city and from there you can enjoy impressive views of Cuenca. In this area, it’s also possible to visit Aventuri, a park in which you can swing over a gorge.
Visit the cap straw hat factory
One of the charms of the Azuay province and its capital is the creation of hats with the fibre named cap straw, in the hands of craftsmen who pass this tradition on from generation to generation. For this reason, it is essential that you visit the factory that is over 60 years old and is now a museum. There, you will appreciate the production process and the finalised traditional hats. You can even buy one if you wish! This activity is also included in the Cuenca City Tour.
Once you have finished the Cuenca City Tour, you could add a visit to the Central Bank Museum, Las Conceptas Museum and the Museum of Aboriginal Cultures among others.
Cuenca Walking Tour
Free Walking Tour is a fantastic way of getting to know Cuenca. These guided visits take place every day, and the meeting point is at 10am under the flags in Calderón park. In this tour, you can walk through the city while a professional tour guide will tell you about the history of Cuenca, as well as its culture, architecture and traditions. This service is endorsed by legalling conforming tour operators which guarantees your visit to be unforgettable.
What to eat in Cuenca?
If you are in Cuenca, you have to try the food there, and thus one the many dishes made using mote (a type of corn), an essential ingredient in Cuencan cooking. You will find restaurants, shops and markets selling dishes such as: mote pillo, mote sucio, mote casado, mote pata, among many others. We are sure that Cuencan cooking will surprise you!
What to do in Cuenca at night?
Don’t forget to enjoy Cuenca’s nightlife with all its restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs. One of the areas with the greatest concentration of these places is known as Calle Larga. You can also pay a visit to the El Vado are (the first raised neighbourhood in Cuenca), where themed cultural centers exist and where you can appreciate the development of the professional trades. Similarly, in Remigio Crespo Toral avenue, know as “La Remigio”, you will also discover a series of restaurants serving both Ecuadorian and international food as many trendy pubs.
Wherever you go, don’t forget to have a locally produced beer in the bar of the city.
At night, you can also enjoy the famous broken bridge, the oldest in the city and the same one that was re-inaugurated with a new structure in 1961 after the Tomebamba broke its banks (the most important of the four rivers that flow through Cuenca) which destroyed part of this heritage site in 1950.
We recommend you wander the streets of Cuenca at night and soak in the nocturnal atmosphere. Let yourself be surprised with the majesty of the its architecture and the warmth of its people.
Tourist locations in Cuenca and nearby natural attractions
There are several tourist location in Cuenca that we recommend you visit, such as Chordeleg and other natural attractions nearby like the Cajas National Park and the Ingapirca ruins. Following on, we will tell you a little more about all this.
Given its location, Cuenca has various natural attractions and districts like Chordeleg only a few hours away. Is well Chordeleg is well known for its traditional crafts and creativity in earthenware, gold work and cap straw. In central Chordeleg you can find an innumerable amount of jewelry where you can familiarise yourself with the work of the local craftsmen, who dedicate themselves to making beautiful filigrane jewels among other things.
Cajas National Park
Cajas National Park is situated 33 km north west of Cuenca. In this zone, “the mountain range creates extensive plateaux of great beauty where water gathers in great quantities”(SNAP-MAE, 2019).
Therefore “ due to the great quantity of lagoons, the presence of migratory birds and the importance it has for capturing, storing and providing water for the nearby populations, it became known as a Ramsar location or a Wetland of International Importance (SNAP-MAE, 2019). All these facts convert it into a area that deserves to be visited if you find yourself in the Azuay province.
One way of getting there and learning about this unmissable Ecuadorian destination is through our unmissable Cajas Full Day tour that leaves every day. Before beginning, we stop by the main hotels in the city to do the pick up. Once in Cajas National Park, we begin our tour, first visiting Llaviuco (lower part of the park) where we will do a 1 hour walk at 3,100 meters above sea level to then transfer to the highest part of the park, the “Three Crosses” at approximately 4,160 metres above sea level.
Following this, we will transfer to La Toreadora lagoon, where we will begin our second walk; this time at 3,900 meters (feet) above sea level. During the walk, you will see the “San Luis” Polylepis forest, that between 2 and 4 million years old. Finally, we will have lunch and return to Cuenca.
This is, without doubt, an excellent open air activity and great for families, given that children will love being surrounded by such beauty and biological diversity.
If you find yourself in Cuenca, we recommend that you visit the Ingapirca Archeological Complex, located 90 km north of Cuenca, in the Cañar province. Ingapirca is the sacred place of the Inca in Ecuador, and is considered to be the most important precolombine archeological site in the country, and the best preserved architectural complex.
In our tour, Ingapirca Full Day, that leaves every day and lasts 8 hours, you can learn about the Ingapirca Architectural complex in a simple and safe way. In this tour, we will transfer from Cuenca to Cañar, and visit the Ingapirca Ruins, the indigenous Cañari market (Sundays) and the Biblián Church (sanctuary of the Virgen of Rocío). Don’t forget that you will always be accompanied by a bilingual guide (Spanish-English).
Cotopaxi National Park is a protected area of Ecuador that is located in the province of Cotopaxi. The park is home to the famous Cotopaxi active volcano which is an elevation of 5,897 meters above sea level. It is the second highest volcano in the country and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. For these reasons, Cotopaxi is one of the favorite destinations for tourists when visiting Ecuador. If you have plans to go to Cotopaxi from Quito, and still do not know how to get there, in this note we will give you directions so you can get to this amazing destination of Ecuador.
To get to Cotopaxi National Park, you have to go to Quitumbe Bus Station (Terminal Terrestre de Quitumbe) which is located in the south of the city of Quito. Once there you can take any of the buses that leave for the province of Cotopaxi (Latacunga) or the province of Tungurahua (Ambato), since these will necessarily leave you on the way to Cotopaxi National Park. Once there, you can hitchhike or walk to the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park. The walk can take around 01H20 to 01H30. It depends on your physical conditions.
Cotopaxi National Park is located at 33 km from the city of Latacunga, and 50 km away from Quito. The park is connected to Quito and Latacunga through Pan American Highway. If you depart from the city of Quito, you must reach kilometer 42 and take the detour to enter the park. From the detour, it will take you 15 minutes to get to Caspi Control Income. The area has parking lots.
Another option to get to the park is to take the Pan American Highway and enter the city of Machachi to Güitig’s town. From there, you should go to Pedregal and in 20 minutes from that point you will find the guard house of Cotopaxi National Park.
Cotopaxi Tour from Best Trip Ecuador
Best Trip Ecuador offers Cotopaxi Tour. We will take you to know the famous Cotopaxi National Park. Once in the park, you will enjoy the landscape of the Andean moor, the volcanic soil, and the lagoon that emerges from the snowy mountains. In the park area, you can admire flora species and, with a bit of luck, animals such as: wolves, rabbits, bears, condors, and others that live in that territory.
We will take you to Mariscal Sucre Interpretation Center, known as the Park Museum, where you can familiarize yourself with all the information related to the National Park. This center is located within the Mariscal Sucre Station (or Control Caspi entrance).
After that we will walk to José Rivas Refuge located at 4,864 meters above sea level. This is the refuge that welcomes the mountaineers who are preparing to climb to the top of Cotopaxi Volcano. The refuge is located on the slopes of the volcano, and it is an hour and a half walking from the parking lot.
Later and back to the vehicle, we will take you to lunch in a ranch of the area where you can eat the daily menu or the vegetarian option. Finally, we will take you back to the city of Quito to disembark at the same boarding pick up points at approximately 7:00 p.m. Remember that in all our tours, you will always be accompanied by a Bilingual Guide (Spanish – English).
Regardless of the way you get to Cotopaxi be sure to visit this unforgettable destination of Ecuador that is recommended to visit especially between the months of July to December. We are sure that Cotopaxi Volcano and Andean Paramo will surprise you for its unique beauty.
Papallacta is a parish located in the province of Napo and it is located 67 kilometers east of the city of Quito. This parish is well known for the existence of thermal waters and its beautiful lagoon. In addition, Papallacta is surrounded by moors with a range of species of flora and fauna. This is why this a place of high interest for local and foreign tourists.
Papallacta is located at 3,300 metres above sea level and has a cold Andean climate. The average temperature in the area is 14° C (57° F). This fact makes of this place a perfect destination to enjoy the wonderful natural thermal waters.
Among travelers, it is common to wonder how to get to this destination. For this reason, we tell you about different ways to reach Papallacta.
If you are in the city of Quito, there are some bus companies that will take you to Baeza. First of all, you have to go the bus station of Quitumbe which is located in the south of the city. You will travel through Cumbayá, Tumbaco and Pifo along the Interoceanic highway until you reach Papallacta.
You could also choose to arrive at Río Coca Transfer Station, located at the north of the city of Quito. From there, the buses (of green color) depart for Cumbayá. At the Supermaxi or Scala Shopping Mall stops you can take some buses companies that will take you to Papallacta.
On the other hand, if you are in the Amazonian region of Ecuador, specifically in the city of Tena, you can take a bus that takes you to Papallacta. If Papallacta is not the final destination of the bus, for sure, they will make a stop when they reach Papallacta.
The trip from Quito to Papallacta by bus is not long since you will travel less than 70 km. So it will lasts approximately 02h00, while from Tena it could take you about 03h00.
All these transports will take you to the town of Papallacta. To reach the thermal water pools you will have to do a walk from 00h45 to 01h00 approximately depending on your physical condition. This trek is considered of medium difficulty or medium high level because it is through a pronounced slope.
If you choose to travel in a private vehicle, Papallacta is approximately 01:30 from the city of Quito and 02:30 from the city of Tena.
To get from Quito to Papallacta, you must take Simón Bolívar Avenue and Ruta Viva towards E28C in Puembo. Then you must drive from E20 to the province of Napo and finally you must take the old road to your destination in Papallacta.
We have 3 main pick up points around the city of Quito and the tour starts at 09:00 am. After an entire day of relaxation and fun, we will be back to the city of Quito at approximately 7:00 p.m. We will disembark the passengers at the same boarding points.
Come with us and enjoy the Papallacta Tour! You will visit the viewpoint of the Papallacta lagoon, you will take a guided walk along the trail called La Isla (it is a paved road that follows the path of the Cosanga River), you will swim in the SPA pools at the Termas de Papallacta (hot springs pools) and you will enjoy the steam caves.
We are sure that Papallacta will delight you! Its wonderful landscapes will take your breath away and its thermal water pools will make you feel relaxed and absolutely renewed.
uilotoa lagoon is considered one of the most beautiful lagoons of volcanic origin in the whole world. It is located in the Ecuadorian Andes specifically in Pujilí, in the province of Cotopaxi. Quilotoa volcano, which is home to this magical lagoon, always surprise to those who visit it not only because of the variety of colors of its waters, but because of the extraordinary nature of the site. For this reason, we want to give you some indications about how to get to this place.
How to arrive to the lagoon?
There are several alternatives and ways that are useful to arrive and visit this incomparable place. We will tell you how you can get to Quilotoa and its lagoon.
To move to Latacunga, capital of the province of Cotopaxi, you can opt for public transport that depart from the city of Quito from the bus station “Terminal Terrestre de Quitumbe”, located in the south of the city. This trip lasts between 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Once you are in the city of Latacunga, you can take a bus to the town of Zumbahua (64.33 km) -approximately two hours away-. Zumbahua is the closest community to Quilotoa. There are bus companies which daily and at different times make transfers to this town. From Zumbahua you only have approximately 15 kilometers to your destination. You can go by bus, pick-up truck or bicycle.
A good option to get to Quilotoa volcano and its lagoon is through a private vehicle. From Quito the distance to Quilotoa is approximately 178 km. First, from the city of Quito, you must go to the city of Latacunga through the Pan-American Highway. This section of the trip can take between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once in the capital of Cotopaxi, you should take the Pujilí-La Maná Road until you reach the parish of Zumbahua. From there you must travel 15 kilometers more and you will arrive to Quilotoa lagoon. Once on the site, you can easily find parking for your vehicle.
Best Trip Ecuador offers you a safe, easy, and fun way to visit the Quilotoa, where you can enjoy an all-inclusive Day Trip, which departs from the city of Quito every Friday at 07:50 a.m. and returns to the city at approximately 19:00 p.m. With the aim of expanding the possibilities of boarding option for our passengers, before starting the tour we pass through 3 main points of the city. Our first stop is in the North of the city, at the sale point located on the United Nations Boulevard (07h05); then we go to the sale point located in the sector of “La Mariscal / Plaza Foch” (07h25), and finally we make our third stop at Quinde Visitors Center located in the Historic Center next to “Plaza Grande” (07h50). At 7h50 a.m. we start the tour.
Among the activities contemplated in the Quilotoa Tour by Best Trip Ecuador, you will visit the viewpoints of Shalalá and Quilotoa, as well as you can make the trekking to Quilotoa Lagoon. After these activities, there will be a visit to the craft workshop in the community of Tigua, and finally, you will go yo the pottery in the parish of La Victoria. We start the return route to the city of Quito at approximately 19:00 p.m. The passengers can disembark at the same boarding points.
The tour includes: transportation, bilingual guide (Spanish – English), lunch, and tickets to the community of Tigua and the pottery located in the parish of La Victoria. Also, passengers are recommended to bring a coat, hat, scarf, sunglasses, shoes with a wrought-iron plant, sunscreen, and a camera.
Located in the North of Ecuador, Imbabura is recognized for its impressive natural attractions, its gastronomic richness, and its unprecedented ancient traditions.
The huge tourist potential of this province makes it one of the most visited of the country, and a destination that you have to visit during your stay in Ecuador.
Best Trip Ecuador takes you to see this majestic province with our Otavalo Tour. This tour lasts about 10 hours, and you will a chance to visit the main attractions of Imbabura.
Departures are every Wednesday and Saturday from Quito.
How to get to Imbabura?
You can take the specialized tourist transport from these three main pick up points:
08h05. Quinde Visitors Center / Plaza Grande: located in the Venezuela St. and Espejo St., in the Historical Center.
08h25. La Mariscal / Plaza Foch: located on the Reina Victoria St. between Calama St. and Foch St.
08h50. Boulevard Naciones Unidas Ave.: located on Bulevar Naciones Unidas and Shyris Ave. (across the street from Banco del Pacífico).
Main Activities During The Tour
First stop: The Quitsato Solar Clock
Have you ever been asked if you can be in two places at the same time? In Ecuador, the answer is yes. The real crossing point the Equatorial Line is in Quitsato, the first monument in the world to be built on the basis of space, as this platform can be observed by satellites.
Beyond being a tourist attraction, the Quitsato Solar Clock is also a cultural research community project which aims is to share with the public the knowledge, customs, and cuisine of the Pre-Inca cultures.
Visit the San Pablo Lake Lookout
The Lake San Pablo, located just 4 km. from the city of Otavalo, is the largest lake of the province of Imbabura. During the tour, we will visit the most important lookout of this lake located in Gonzales Suárez, Eugenio Espejo, and San Rafael townships. This lake is located at height of 2.660 m.a.s.l. with an average temperature of 12° C.
From this lookout, you can appreciate the imposing “Taita Imbabura”, a volcano of 4.560 m.a.s.l, and a cultural reference from the local community. Around this volcano they have created several myths and legends.
Visit the “Plaza de los Ponchos”
Otavalo shows its most colorful face on the crafts market, a beautiful place popularly known as “Plaza de los Ponchos”. This is one of the most visited attractions in Imbabura and is distinguished by a set of tents and stalls exhibiting handicrafts of different materials, as well as jewelry, wool clothing, blankets, and musical instruments. The miscellaneous come from various cultures and provinces of Ecuador such as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Napo, Loja, and Manabí. Here the prices are comfortable and ‘dribbled’, meaning that you should bargain.
In the Plaza de los Ponchos, you will be able to find fruits, vegetables, grains, and typical dishes such as hornado, potato tortillas or cooked sweet corn.
Walk towards the Peguche Waterfall
The Peguche Waterfall is located in the community of Faccha Llacta, 1.5 km from the community of Peguche, and 3.3 km from the city of Otavalo. It is located at a height of 1.821 m.a.s.l., and has an average temperature of 12° C. This waterfall is 30m high and 6m wide. It forms on steep slopes.
During the Inti Raymi festival, the Peguche waterfall is the ceremonial center where the ritual of purification takes place.
Boat ride in the Cuicocha Lagoon
Thousands of years ago, a strong eruption of the Cotacachi volcano formed a crater creating inside the today known: Cuicocha Lagoon. Its name comes from the kichwa expressions “tsuish kucha”, which translated means lagoon of the gods.
The Cuicocha Lagoon is a sacred site visited by shamans every summer solstice to perform their own purification baths.
There are two islets inside the lagoon: Teodoro Wolf and Yeroví, the same ones that are separated by the “Canal de los Ensueños”.
This lagoon, located in the Cotacachi canton and located within the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, is just 14 kilometers from the city of Otavalo and is one of the most visited sites in the province of Imbabura.
You can admire the islets up close by a canoe ride or from the lookouts of Cuicocha Loma and Antenas. Please know that this visit is not offered on holidays/festivities.
Return to the city of Quito
We will be back in Quito at approximately 7:00 pm. The bus will stop at the same pick up points.
Value of the tour?
USD 60 for adults (nationals and foreigners) who are over 12 and under 65 years-old.
USD 40 for children up to 12 years old, senior citizens (65 years old and older), and people with disabilities (ID will be required).
The tour includes:
– Tourist transport
– Bilingual guide (Spanish – English)
– Entrances to the tourist attractions
– Mini snack
We recommend our passengers to bring: sunglasses, hat, coat, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, camera and insect repellent. In addition, we suggest that you bring your passport to be stamped at the entrance of the Solar Clock Quitsato.
For more information and detail of our activities, you can go to our link: Tour Otavalo
Ingapirca, located in the southern Andes of Ecuador, specifically in the province of Cañar, is an archaeological complex of Inca origin. It is located at 3,160 metres above sea level and is 26 miles away from Azogues, capital of the province of Cañar. It is also 55 miles at the north of the city of Cuenca.
Ingapirca is the sacred place of the Inca occupation in Ecuador. It is considered the most important pre-Columbian archaeological site in the country and the best preserved Inca architectural complex in Ecuador.
Ingapirca is a Kichwa word that means “Wall of the Inca”. This construction is a magnificent example of how the Cañari-Inca culture was like. It has an area of four hectares and was an important religious, political, scientific, military, and administrative center during the Inca conquest.
Best Trip Ecuador invites you to visit the largest and best preserved archaeological complex in Ecuador. Through our Ingapirca Full Day tour you will enjoy a unique experience in the province of El Cañar.
The ruins of Ingapirca are composed by a cemetery, solar observatories, roads, warehouses, priests’ apartments and an indigenous plaza. In Ingapirca the buildings are made of stones perfectly carved and joined with natural mortar.
In the archaeological complex, the Temple of the Sun or Castle is considered as the main nucleus of the place. In addition, this temple has an oval platform unlike the rest of settlements that are arranged in circular shapes.
Ingapirca is a place that has to be seen because it is part of the Qhapaq Ñan – Andean Road System. Moreover, Ingapirca concentrated the Cañari culture (500 A.D.) and united diverse cultures through the Tahuantinsuyo. Ingapirca as well as Machu Picchu in Cusco (Peru), symbolises the power of the Inca civilization.
Ingapirca offers us a view of the past and allows us to know the Cañari and Inca cultures. Surprise yourself with the different construction techniques of the temples, as well as the precision of the solar calculations and the aqueduct system.
This fantastic archaeological complex can be visited from Monday to Sunday from 09:00 to 17:30. The estimated time of the complete tour is one hour. A simple, safe and fun way to get to know this wonderful place is through Ingapirca Full Day tour which departs from the city of Cuenca. You will visit not only the ruins of Ingapirca, but also the Cañari Indigenous Market (Sundays) and Biblián Church (located in the Zhalao’s hill, sanctuary of the Virgin of Rocío).
In this note, we want tell you how to get to Puerto Misahuallí (a parish that belongs to Tena in the province of Napo) from the city of Quito.
Cover Photo by: Instagram @midlandtravel
By Public transport
In Quitumbe Terminal, located in the south of the city of Quito, you must take a bus that goes to the city of Tena. The trip by bus can take approximately 05h00, depending on the weather and traffic conditions. Once in Tena, you must go to Misahuallí in another bus. This track takes between 30 to 35 minutes.
The trip by car from Quito to Misahuallí can take around 03h30 to 04h00. You must take Baeza Road, then the Pan-American Highway/ E45 (Troncal Amazónica). During the trip you will pass through Papallacta, Baeza, Archidona, and finally, you will arrive at Tena. From there you must drive to Misahuallí on a road which is in good conditions.
We will take you comfortably in our tourist transport to Misahuallí, where we will take you to your hotel. After having lunch, we will start trekking through our reserve in the middle of the jungle with our ingenious guide, who will share all his knowledge and experiences in one of our trails, called: “El Gran Cacique” (The Great Cacique). We will return to the hotel and before the sunset, we will cool down as we descend in buoys with life jackets from one of our beaches on Pusuno River. Dinner and accommodation.
Option 1. After breakfast, we will make an excursion to one of the waterfalls in the area. In the afternoon, after lunch, we will move to an Kichwa Indigenous Community, we will learn about their Shamanic customs and rituals. Back to the hotel, we will stop to feed the playful monkeys that live on the beach of Puerto Misahuallí. Typical dinner and night walk.
Option 2. After breakfast, we will take a walk to Napo River, where we will sail in motorized canoes along the river to AmaZOOnico Animal Rescue Center. Once there, we will observe endemic animals of the jungle, which in their natural state are quite difficult to find. We will have lunch (Box Lunch) along the river; then on the Traps Trail we will learn how to build hunting instruments and survival tools using only the forest materials. Typical dinner and night walk.
Finally, on Day 3 after breakfast we will make the Chocolate Tour. With the cocoa beans collected in the region, we will have a fun workshop where we will actively participate in the homemade process of chocolate making and tasting.
Quilotoa Loop is a natural attraction located at 15 kilometers from Zumbahua, and it is characterized by the strong and icy winds. The crater of the inactive Quilotoa Volcano forms a bowl that collects the turquoise waters of the lagoon, and their color is due to the accumulation of sulfur. In this note, we want to give you information about what to do in Quilotoa Loop once you visit it.
Cover Photo by: Instagram @alvarodaniell
Visit Shalalá and Quilotoa Viewpoints
When you arrive at Quilotoa Loop you can not miss Shalalá and Quilotoa Viewpoints. Shalalá Viewpoint has a transparent structure, from that point it is possible to see all the grandeur of the lagoon and admire the beauty of the nature from 3.900 meters above sea level. You can not only take a great picture of the place but also enjoy the view of the turquoise waters of the lagoon. Also, when you arrive at Quilotoa you must visit Quilotoa Viewpoint (the community’s viewpoint) from which the view is equally fantastic.
Photo by: Instagram @ecuadorentusojos
Hike and Visit Quilotoa Loop
From Shalalá or Quilotoa Viewpoint, it is possible to descend to the lagoon. The descent is not complicated, however, the ascent is a bit difficult if you do not have good physical condition. In case this happens, you can go down and get on a mule, a service that is offered by people from Quilotoa Community. No matter how you do it, once you get to the lagoon, the landscape will be simply fantastic.
Photo by: Instagram @vanessaalina_
Visit an Artisan Workshop in Tigua Community
Between Pujilí and Zumbahua, very close to Quilotoa Loop, there is an indigenous population called Tigua. In Tigua is common to find artisans who are dedicated to make paintings, masks, and other handicrafts that have geometric and figurative forms. Yo will find wonderful masks made of pine wood, and paintings created on sheepskin which tell the experiences of everyday life. You can not miss seeing the laborious work of these skilled artisans.
Visit Toachi Canyon Lookout
Toachi River Canyon, located at 10 kilometers from the parish of Zumbahua, is a gigantic ravine that covers almost 30 kilometers in length with a drop of 100 meters. This place offers an unusual Andean landscape as a result of the eruptions of Quilotoa Volcano. Toachi River is inside the canyon, which is a good place to practice rafting. Toachi River Canyon is a place that deserves to be seen.
Go to Quilotoa Loop with Best Trip Ecuador
Best Trip Ecuador invites you to visit Quilotoa Volcano and its beautiful lagoon through our Quilotoa Tour. Travel in a fun, safe, and comfortable way onboard our tourist bus. You always will be accompanied by a Bilingual Guide (Spanish – English).
Our tour includes tourist transport, all entrances, and lunch. Do not miss the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful lagoons of volcanic origin in the world, you will not regret it!
Ingapirca Ruins are located in the south of Ecuador, in the province of Cañar. These ruins are considered the most important Pre-Columbian archaeological place in Ecuador. For this reason, we want to tell you about 5 curiosities of Ingapirca Ruins with the desire that if you have not done it yet, you visit this fascinating destination of Ecuador.
Photo by: Instagram @demochilaecaneca
What does Ingapirca mean?
Ingapirca is a Kichwa word that means “Inca wall”. In this important Archaeological Complex, the buildings were made with perfectly carved stones, and joined with natural mortar.
What is the main attraction of Ingapirca Archaeological Complex?
In Ingapirca Archaeological Complex, the most significant building is the Temple of the Sun, also known as Castle. It has as an elliptical shape and was built around a large stone called Pacarina, which was a Cañari ceremonial temple. The Temple of the Sun and its walls are samples of the Inca culture since these were sun worshipers, while the city’s puma design and the half-moon shape of the Archaeological Complex are manifestations of Cañari civilization, as these were moon worshipers.
Photo by: Instagram @megalithicmarvels
Ingapirca is a symbol of the Inca domain
Ingapirca was a place of concentration of Cañari culture (native of Ecuador) and Inca culture. This place constitutes a symbol of the dominion of the Incas before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It was “an important ceremonial zone, which linked up diverse cultures through Tahuantinsuyo and became, just like Machu Picchu in Cuzco (Peru), a symbol of the power of Inca civilization”. Source: Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural, 2019.
Ingapirca and the culture mixing
Inca invasion caused Ingapirca to become an important religious, political, military, ritual, and administrative center. It also fulfilled “an astronomical calendar function […] for programming and controlling the regional agricultural production calendar”. Source: Ministerio de Turismo, 2019.
In Ingapirca coexisted both Cañaris and Incas, hence a culture mixing occurred. This is the reason why archaeological remains of the two cultures have been found. In the museum of Ingapirca Archaeological Complex can be seen more than 150 pieces found in the area, such as: textiles, ceramics, jewelry, among others.
Ingapirca and Qhapaq Ñan (Inca Road System)
Ingapirca Archaeological Complex is a place that has to be visited for all those who want to know part of Qhapaq Ñan – Inca Road System. It was a transportation system of more than 30,000 kilometers which was built over several centuries by the Incas.
Best Trip Ecuador invites you to visit this unique Archaeological Complex of Ecuador through our Ingapirca Full Day Tour, which departs from the city of Cuenca every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. We will take you to know not only the fantastic Ingapirca Ruins, but also the Cañari Indigenous Market (Sundays), and Biblián Church on Zhalao Hill. This tour includes tourist transportation, lunch, and accompaniment of a Bilingual Guide (Spanish – English). Enjoy the historical, archaeological, and cultural riches of the province of Cañar, you will be amazed!