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Why visit Cuenca and the Southern Highlands?

The beautiful city of Cuenca, founded in 1557, has a tremendous amount of architectural charm, while just an hour away is El Cajas National park, one of the most stunning areas of wilderness in Ecuador. Add the Inca ruins at Ingapirca and you have plenty of reasons to visit this region!
Reasons to visit Cuenca and the Southern Highlands include

  • The cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, whitewashed buildings and impressive cathedral with its vast, blue-tiled domes in Cuenca, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Learn about Ecuador’s cultural history ”“ Cuenca has produced many writers, poets, artists and philosophers ”“ while the Museo del Banco Central ”˜Pumapungo’ offers modern art exhibits and fascinating reconstructions of indigenous houses, together with an archaeological park with Inca ruins. 
  • Visit villages such as Gualaceo and Chordeleg, noted for their silver and goldsmiths.
  • Hike in the spectacular El Cajas National Park, its misty, mountainous landscape and hundreds of lakes reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, but with much more exotic flora and fauna, such as hummingbirds and the gnarled quinua trees. 
  • Explore Incan history at 500-year old Ingapirca, with its Inca monument in the form of a unique elliptical-shaped temple.

When to go to Cuenca and the Southern Highlands

The climate here varies little year-round, though it does have a rainy season, March to June. July through December tends to be driest, but rain can will arrive without much warning at any time throughout the year. 

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Cuenca accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT -5 hours

Flight time:

There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.

Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.


Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.


There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.



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