5 Things for Expats to Discover on a Weekend in Cuenca – A Photo Journey
Of all of the cities in Ecuador, Cuenca is arguably the most charming with its cobblestone streets, old-world cathedrals, colonial parks, and mountain vistas. In Cuenca, there is never a lack of things for an expat to do over a weekend. We’ve rounded up five to get you started.
1. Eat Lunch at the Inca Ruins of Ingapirca
Just a two-hour drive outside of Cuenca is Ingapirca, the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador. As you explore by foot, take notice of typical regional handicrafts, including pottery, leather goods, and more. Many hotels offer guided tours to the ruins, known for its many stone structures surrounding the prominent circular sun temple. Find a comfortable seat and watch craftsmen weave Panama hats while you enjoy a typical Ecuadorian meal.
2. View Cuenca from Atop the Mirador de Turi
For an impressive view of Cuenca, take a taxi south of town along Avenida Solano to the stark white Church of Turi, that sits high on a hillside in the southern suburb of Turi. The views are especially grand on the holidays and in the evenings when all of Cuenca’s churches’ steeples and domes are lit throughout town.
3. See a Shrunken Head at Museo Pumapungo
Cuenca’s most important museum, Museo Pumapungo is home to five rare and eerie tzantza (shrunken heads) from the Shuar culture of the southern Oriente of Ecuador. Take your time, the museum is a great place to take in Ecuador’s vast cultural offerings where you can see traditional costumes of the country’s indigenous cultures, to Afro-Ecuadorians from Esmeraldas province, along with the cowboy-like montubios (coastal farmers) of the western lowlands.
4. Take a Hiking Tour of Cajas National Park
With over 250 lakes and a natural abundance of flora and fauna, Cajas National Park is a popular hiking location at the doorstep of Cuenca. Offering all types of hiking grades, up to 12,000 feet, the park operates in all types of weather conditions, so be prepared. But if you need to get out of the city for a bit, it is a perfect day-long escape into nature.
5. Take a Postcard-Worthy Picture of the Catedral de la Inmaculata Concepción
Make certain to charge your camera for the focal point of Parque Calderón, Catedral de la Inmaculata Concepción, with its signature twin blue domes that have become the city’s hallmark symbol. The massive church whose austere marble interior took nearly 80 years to complete from its 1885 start date has beautiful stained glass windows and is particularly compelling during an evening service.
Did we miss your favorite spot in Cuenca? Let us know where you spend your weekends!