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Good Times in Cuenca

Bimbino and Bambina in Cajas
Guayaquil => Santa Ana de Los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca
Getting out of Guayaquil was quite easy even though there was no information on the Internet about how to hitchhike out of the city. What the monkeys did was what they usually do: go online, open Google maps and scan it for the toll station closest to the city. To find a bus connection they had to look for help from the people on the street. After asking five different people and receiving at least ten different answers they finally encountered a bus going their way. The toll station was called Boliche and located approximately 20 minutes east of Guayaquil.
Hitchhiking in Ecuador is just awesome, better than going by bus. You put your thumb out, wait five minutes, and you have a ride. Bimbino and Bambina made it in two rides, first to Puerto Inca, and afterwards directly to Cuenca. The road climbed and winded up into the mountains, through the mist and cold of the heights to the welcoming sunny valley of Cuenca City.
Santa Ana de Los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca & Parque Nacional El Cajas
With just over 300.000 inhabitants Cuenca is the third biggest city in Ecuador. While in size it cannot compete with Quito and Guayaquil it definitely beats these cities in atmosphere. Cuenca’s old town is listed as a UNESCO World Culture Heritage site, and this not without reason. Beautiful churches, cobblestone streets and many impressive buildings reflect the colonial times of this place. This architectural heritage, combined with a quite Berlinesque alternative feeling, gives this city its unique character. International food ranging from Arabic to Indian at every corner, street art, and more art galleries than probably anywhere else in the country are to be found.
In Cuenca our monkeys got dropped off right in the middle of the historic city centre. Shortly after arrival they found themselves in a restaurant to meet up with Jorin (a German guy, friend of a friend they had been in contact with online). Luckily this restaurant also appeared to be one of the cheapest hostels in town so they ended up staying there in a dormitory for the two next nights, as they did not find a couch in Cuenca. However, the monkeys spent the evening in a company of Couchsurfers in a nearby bar.
It was good to have Jorin around as he knew what was worth doing in Cuenca. Following his idea they all went to sleep early that night to have more time to explore around the next day. The plan was to go to the Cajas National Park.
The monkeys gave something in exchange for the great ideas of Jorin: their hitchhiking experience in Ecuador. Early in the morning on St. Nicholas' Day they were standing on the western outskirts of Cuenca with their thumbs out. The Ecuador hitchhiking rule worked that time as well, and it was in fact less than five minutes they had to wait. The driver took his lucky dog for a ride that morning, and the monkeys with Jorin were lucky to get a ride to the entrance of the park.
If you are in Cuenca, go to the Cajas. It is definitely worth doing. Moreover the entrance is free. There is nothing more to say about the park, only to show: photos!
A map of the Cajas national park Some informations about the park at the entrance. The altitude is making it quite a hard hike.
A lake in Cajas And this is what you go there for, beautiful nature.
Bambina and the lake Beautiful Bambina.
A tree and the lake Beautiful nature.
Bimbino in Cajas Beautiful Bimbino.
Bimbino and Bambina playing around in a forest in Cajas Back to their nature!
Super cool forest, trees branches like spider nets Picture à la "War of the Worlds", red weeds.
Just beautiful nature
Extreme tree climbing of Bimbino and Bambina Extreme tree climbing...
The result of extreme tree climbing ...resulted in taking a bath in the icy waters of the lake.
A random Ent in Cajas This is the place where Tolkien got his inspiration for the story about the Ents of the Fangorn.
Meditating with Jorin Good way of getting some inspirations.
Beautiful lake, and mountains, and all the nature, just awesome! Last glance at park.
Hitchhiking back from Cajas And hitchhiking back on the back of a pickup track!
The next day Bimbino and Bambina met up with Jorin again to explore the city of Cuenca. They were all extremely hungry at the beginning of the quest, and luckily found a good offer in a restaurant just on the main square. Offers in the restaurants usually include a soup, a main course and a drink. Usually these offers combine a low price with low quality. But this time was different! At the end of this post Bimbino and Bambina will share with you the names and directions of the places worth mentioning.
It often happens on the streets of Cuenca that you will be approached by a group of students asking for an interview for their school project. The monkeys and Jorin were happy to help the first two times, but further requests had to be declined as they had too much to see and also to buy the tickets to the next destinations. Unfortunately Jorin and the monkeys were travelling in opposite directions. Jorin got his ticket west to Guayaquil while Bimbino and Bambina headed east to Ambato. But before they had their bus appointments, they had managed to see enough in Cuenca. Photos!
A good restaurant in Cuenca The monkeys and Jorin had a good lunch in this restaurant. Recommended!
Stupid flower Xmas decoration Such Christmas decorations they had all over the city.
Cool street art Interesting street art. Pieces of material glued on the wall.
More of cool street art Some more street art. It is in fact all over the city.
And some more of cool street art An easy way to make a balloon.
Stairs in Cuenca Get ready to climb the stairs a lot in Cuenca. Up!
Stairs in Cuenca And down!
Oh darling, haven't seen you for ages, missed you a lot! Сколько лет, сколько зим!
Bimbino and Bambina have been to Cuenca Bimbino and Bambina have been to Cuenca!
New little friend And Jorin got a new travel buddy. His name is Little Travelrebel.
Advice from Bimbino and Bambina
Where to stay:
La Cigale: $7 per person in a dorm. Clean, comfortable, good atmosphere.
Where to go/hang out:
La Cigale hostel has a restaurant. There are lots of people in the evening. The food is ok, but quite expensive.
A nice bar. Bimbino and Bambina met Couchsurfers there on their first evening in Cuenca.
Where to eat:
The same nice bar. They have a good lunch offer, but only from around midday till two o'clock.
Don Colón: a restaurant the monkeys and Jorin had lunch in. Good selection of dishes offered daily for lunch, good quality, good price: $4 for menu of the day (a soup, a main, a drink, and a little dessert).
What to do:
El Cajas.
Go out.
Visit museums and galleries.
Walk around the city.
Enjoy the atmosphere.
There is much more to do and to see in Cuenca than monkeys did. Two days was not enough time to spend there. Give it four days at least, if you have time.
Follow the adventures of the Travelling Monkeys! More stories to come soon...
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