Cuenca: South American Beauty
Santa Ana of the Four Rivers of Cuenca (known familiarly as Cuenca) is one of the most beautiful cities in South America.
This is a place to relax and refresh—a charming collection of shady plazas, dazzling churches, and restored colonial mansions.
In 1999, UNESCO declared Cuenca’s historic center a World Cultural Heritage Site, in honor of the city’s harmonious mix of architectural styles.
Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Tarqui, and Machangara
Cuenca’s setting is a high valley (8,200 feet above sea level) nourished by four rivers:
These rivers originate in the surrounding mountains of the Southern Sierra, before eventually joining tributaries of the Amazon.
The fertile valley around Cuenca was first inhabited over 10,000 years ago.
Cuenca began as a Cañari settlement known as Guapondelega—a name signifying “The Land as Wide as Heaven.”
Cañari and Inca Roots
The Cañari made impressive advances in astronomy and agriculture over the next 900 years, achievements later adopted by their Inca conquerors in the mid-15th century.
After subduing the Cañari, the Inca renamed the city Tumebamba, and set about reshaping it into a second capital, intended to rival Cusco.
With the Spanish conquest in 1557, the city was recast again, this time in the orthogonal plan that survives today.
Cuenca: Perfect Base for Hiking Expeditions
Cuenca is the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding Andean towns and hiking venues.
Gualaceo, located 20 miles to the northeast, hosts a traditional Sunday market of produce and handcrafts.
Its neighboring village of Chordeleg is known for handmade textiles, ceramics, and jewelry.
Cajas National Park
The Cajas National Park, 20 miles west of Cuenca, protects Polylepsis woodlands, a section of the Inca Trail, and 232 glacial lakes.
Native species of Cajas range from toucans to condors. Mischievous dwarves are rumored to dwell in its forests and caves.
Ingapirca: Ecuador’s Largest Surviving Inca Site
Thirty miles to the north of Cuenca sits Ingapirca, Ecuador’s largest surviving Inca architectural complex.
Originally constructed atop an important Cañari temple, the resulting cultural fusion is unique.
The Temple of the Sun
Many of the structures have oval-shaped footprints, an anomalous feature among Inca sites.
Highlights include a beautifully crafted Temple of the Sun, a calendar stone, storehouses, and residences.
Climate in Cuenca
Cuenca enjoys a mild climate year-round, with highs in the mid-80s and evening lows near 65°.
The rainy season lasts from January to May, characterized sunny mornings and afternoon showers. Cuenca’s jacaranda trees are in full bloom in October.
When you travel with LANDED, our team of travel experts and network of local contacts are at your service. We’ll handle the details, freeing you to savor the moments. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.
“Here I am, safely returned over those peaks from a journey far more beautiful and strange than anything I had hoped for or imagined. How is it that this safe return brings such regret?”
Could not have been more pleased. This was the trip of a lifetime for our family. Thank you!
GO WITH LANDED
If you’re planning to travel, go with LANDED. You won’t be disappointed.
The whole rhythm of the trip was perfect, and leaving one place for the next worked perfectly. This trip definitely made me want to experience other great spots in South America.
TRIP OF A LIFETIME
The locations were amazing. Your on-the-ground team was fantastic–knowledgeable and accommodating. Beautifully organized.
The best guide I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Top notch talent.
You were a great help in planning–ensuring that I was staying at the right places and enjoying the type of activities we love–and the follow up was incredible.
YOU GOT TO KNOW US
Exactly the bonding and sharing experience we’d hoped for. The rhythm, variety, and tone was spot on. With effective listening skills, you built a good picture of what we wanted–more complicated than “just” luxury. The result was a great trip, one made just for us.
Excellent attention to detail. You listened carefully, asked the right questions, and customized with just the right balance. Superb guides. We felt relaxed and pampered all the way. You’ll plan our next trip.
Not a single thing on the itinerary that we would change. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt. The hotels were beautiful, the food delicious and the pace of the activities was perfect for us.
In short, our trip was amazing. Thanks so much for your constant assistance and thorough planning.
The planning, service and execution of the trip was flawless – thank you!
LANDED was helpful and knowledgeable, making our trip a memorable one. I will use your services in the future as I continue to explore Central & South America.
A VERY WELL ORGANIZED DREAM
Your patience with my questions and concerns during the planning stage was remarkable.
You actually got to know us, which made it possible to know just what we like. You promised the best trip ever and you kept your promise.
Your recommendations were well thought out. We thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon. Thank you!
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
LANDED is the ultimate. You helped us make the most out of a week’s time.
DIDN’T MISS A THING
We zip-lined, rafted, sailed, and surfed. The contacts were professional and courteous. We don’t want to be back at work. Thank you for all of the work you did to set up this trip.