BootsnAll Travel Network

Cuenca, Cañari, and the Parque Nacional Cajas

This will be my last post for about a week as tomorrow I leave for the Galapagos islands! Giant tortoises here I come. Since my last entry, I spent much of the Ecuadorian Semana Santa (essentially the week leading up to Easter) in the lovely colonial city of Cuenca, where the tradition is to head to 7 churches the night before Good Friday. Here’s a far off view of the prettiest of them all:


And another:

Cuenca 2

And one more:

Cuenca 6

The city is a university town with a fun vibe, and on Thursday night a bunch of the guests/employees of my awesome hostel, El Caffecito, went out and partied to crazy regaton music (it’s all the rage down here).

On Friday, four other people from the hostel and I decided to head for a tour of the nearby indigneous community of the Cañari people, who were natives of Ecuador long before the Spanish arrived.

The day started out with some music and several shots of cane liquor:

Cuenca 7

Then we took a hike (yes, while buzzed on indigenous booze) through their forest to learn about various medicinal plants. I chose to partake in a purification ceremony, which basically consisted of our guide waving his incense around me:

Cuenca 3

The day continued with a walk on the old part of the Inca trail (notice the bright red clay surface of the path – my shoes have not yet recovered):

Cuenca 8

As a reward for our hike, we had a fabulous feast of rice, fish, eggs, cheese and various other things that they served to us on this awesome hugh sheet on the ground:

Cuenca 11PIC

I also got back on a horse for about two minutes, and found out that the Cañari people don’t actually name their horses. All I know is that their horse was a lot tamer than Indio from the mountains of Baños.

The next day, my new Dutch friend persuaded me to take a day tour with her of the Parque Nacional Cajas, which is about an hour’s drive from Cuenca.

The walk started with a march through this eerie forest of reddish trees that are thousands of years old:

Cuenca 4

At many many thousands of meters, the four hour hike was challenging, but well worth it for the beautiful, dramatic scenery:

Cuenca 5

Cuenca 10

Cuenca 9

This computer is barely working and I have to leave for the airport at 6am mañana, so I have to cut the entry short. Am still getting used to the multi-hour bus rides sans bathroom breaks, but they seem well worth it to experience this amazing country.


0 responses to “Cuenca, Cañari, and the Parque Nacional Cajas”

  1. Rachel and Crew says:

    Your trip so far sounds awesome! Your horseback riding adventure reminds me of my trip to Europe as a teenager. We were on one of the Greek islands (I think it was Santorini) and we had to ride a donkey up these slippery stairs to get to the city. Since I was a little skittish I was one of the last people to get on from my group. Well, I got on the donkey who could have won the Kentucky Derby. We were the first to get to the top and I had no control over this animal at all. Needless to say, I walked down these ancient slippery stairs on my return back to the ship. Anyway, we are anxiously awaiting to hear about the Galapagos. Have fun!

  2. Alex, Jon and Mario says:

    A Russian, a Mexican and an Italian are on a plane, flying to South America………don’t worry, it’s only the beginning of a Joke… we’re not really coming to hang out. haha! fooled you! Excellent pictures. Especially love the ones of the churches =) Makes me… er…I mean us… want to travel. Badly. Wish I were there with you! Continually impressed that you’re doing this all by yourself. Toodles.

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