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Ecuador travel South Andes ecotourism

Cultural and Eco tourism in the South Andes of Ecuador

Ingapirca sun and moon

The most important archaeological complex in Ecuador. Built with perfectly carved stones and put together with natural mortar. The center of the complex holds the sun temple of the Cañari-Inca culture, it also was a military fortress for the Incas. How to get here: Take the road from the village called Tambo (Cañar province) to the East (aprox. 9 km.). 1 and a half hours from Cuenca.

Culebrillas lagoon, Paredones and the Inca Trail

A high altitude lagoon. Nearby the water there are ancient stone structures. Nearby is an Inca archeaological site called Paredones. How to get here: The easiest way is by car from Ingapirca or El Tambo until the head of the Inca Trail and then a 4-5 hour hike. It is recommended to hire a local guide.

Coyoctor and the Inca baths

The Inca bath is circular stone structure. It is believed that the Inca and his royalty took ceremonial baths here. How to get here: 10 min. by car southwest from Ingapirca.

Cojitambo ruins, Inca fortress on the hill

A stone Inca fortress with large scaled platforms at its base. The site is crossed by the Inca Trail. There are placid views from the top. How to get here: Cojitambo is 12 km. west from Azogues in the area of Deleg.

Deleg, artisan crafts and colors

Here you can find artisan artifacts like shigras (hemp bags), ponchos, wooven belts and other colorful weaver productions. Deleg is located west of Azogues passing Cojitambo.

Cajas National Park, lagoons from heaven

One of the most beautiful National Parks in Ecuador. It is made of high moorlands splashed by many lagoons. Flora and Fauna strive here and there are interesting varieties. Highland birds, mammals, like the spectacled bear, the fox or moorland wolf, deer, etc. How to get here: From Cuenca take the paved road to Molleturo, passing the settlement of Sayausi. An easy road with spectacular views. To see more lakes it is necessary to take a trekking tour.

Mazán, water and enchanted forests

Rich in flora and fauna, protected by the friends of Mazán foundation and the Cuenca waterworks. How to get here: Close to Cajas and Cuenca to the west; near the settlement of Sayausi and the Mazán river.

Giron waterfall

Beautifull landscape. Ideal area for trekking and rock climbing. There are places that offer lodging, meals and camping equipment. How to get here: Take the road Cuenca - Giron - Pasaje, Giron is 37 Km. from Cuenca. When you get to Giron locals can direct you to the waterfall.

Yunguilla reserve, Santa Isabel

A dry forest reserve made up of some 50 Hectares; it is the last natural sanctuary to one of the rarest species of birds in the world, the Atlapetes pallidiceps. How to get here: The entrance is located just before arriving to Santa Isabel at the location called the Union. Santa Isabel is 73 km. from Cuenca on the paved road Cuenca - Giron - Pasaje. The reserve is managed by the Jocotoco foundation, phone: 2272013 (Quito). 

Chobshi caves and wall paintings, Sigsig

This site is dated back to the Paleo-Indian period (more than 10.000 years ago), it is the only archaeological site located within a cave that conserves its rupestrial inscriptions in Ecuador. You will find square buildings protected by a stone wall. Remains of animals and stone instruments have been found.  How to get here: From Cuenca take the road to Gualaceo, then continue on to Sigsig (60 km.). When you arrive at Sigsig ask for the caves. At Sigsig locals weave straw hats and tapestries. Natural springs of Zhingate in Sigsig. The beaches of the lakes Nari and Quingos for bathing.

Cabogana hill, the mysterious caldrons of Racar

The highest hill around Cuenca, you can observe several waterfalls and crypts carved into the stone, known as the caldrons of Racar. Great location for trekking and rock climbing. How to get here: 6 km. from Cuenca; ask locally for exact directions.

Saraguro, culture and color

A peacefull Andean village, cultural center of the Saraguro indigenous tribe. The Saraguro have one of the most unique typical attires in Ecuador, both men and women. You can find interesting art and craft work. Community ecotourism, lodging, typical food, hiking trails, bike trails, climbing all are available. Contact phone: 072200331. How to get here: Located on the Panamerican highway 62 km. north of Loja on the way to Cuenca.

Podocarpus National Park, a dance of jungle and clouds

One of the most important parks of Ecuador. Includes the unique southern moorlands south east of Loja, a fresh water generator that supplies the whole province. It has areas of cloud forest that extend into the Zamora region, in the East lowlands (Oriente). It has the highest concentration of Podocarpus trees, the only conifer native to Ecuador. The flora and fauna are rich and include many endemic species (unique in the world). Home to the rare bearded turkey (Penelope barbata) and the white chested parakeet (Pyrrhura albipectus). How to get here: The best access points to the park are: 1. Drive south of Loja to Cajanuma, the walk to the Compadre lagoons. 2. Through Zamore (Zamora Chinchipe province) 65 km. east of Loja on the paved road. From Zamora you deviate into the valley of the Bombuscaro river. 3. Through Vilcabamba and on to Yangana, from here up into the moorlands. Yangana is about 60 km. south of Loja.

San Francisco Reserve

Continuos to the Podocarpus National Park. This beautiful cloudforest is home to orchids and rare plant species. How to get here: Take the paved road Loja - Zamora, passing the village of Sabanillas. The scientific station can be observed from the roadside. Arcoiris foundation phone: 972572926.

El Cisne, miracullous virgen

This Virgin is also known as "La Churona" (curly one). Every year during September there are peregrinations to the top of the mountain where the sanctuary is located. The procession from Loja takes 2 - 3 days. Also, in mid August there are festivities and a peregrination carrying the icon to Loja on peoples shoulders. How to get here: Travel from Loja to Catamayo, then on to San Pedro de la Bendita on the paved road (45 km. from Loja), at this point take the turn to El Cisne northbound (11 km.)

Tapichalaca reserve, kingdom of new species

Located just south of Podocarpus national park, with 5000 hectares of cloudforest, reaching up to 3500 mts above sea level. Home to the unique and recently discovered to science, Jocotoco bird (Grallaria ridgelyi), a robust bird with a short tail and long legs. It is also home to a new species of frog. In the area there are archaeological remains of the Mayo-Chinchipe culture. How to get here: Located between Yangana and Valladolid aprox. 75 km. south from Loja (3 hours). Managed by the Jocotoco foundation, phone: 2272013 (Quito).

Vilcabamba, land of peace and eternal life

A town of centenarium people. Science up to the day has not been able to explain the reason people can live over 100 years of age here with perfect health. There is a small zoo in town. Nearby is the Mandango hill and in Masanamaca, south of Vilcabamba is the cathedral of the Devil, an interesting geological formation. How to get here: Vilcabamba is located 43 km. south of Loja, on the road to Valladolida and Zumba.

Black lagoons, Yacuri and Cox

The southernmost lagoons in Ecuador in the andean corridor of Lagunillas. Located east of Jimbura, south of Amaluza, close to the peruvian border.

Utuana reserve, the southern star

Important reserve of Tumbesian transition forest, from subtropical and humid (high part 2500 mts above sea level) to dry in its lower zone. A refuge for birds in the Tumbesian region, home to the curious Black Crested Tyrant (Aniretes nigrocristatus). How to get here: From Loja travel to Catamayo, turn towards Cariamanga (103 km.), continue to Utuana (ask locally for the reserve). Managed by both foundation Arcoiris and Jocotoco. Phone: 2272013 (Quito).

Jatunpamba - Jorupe reserve

A reserve of 440 hectares of dry tumbesian forest of the lower zones. Contains 90% of the tumbesian zone birds. How to get here: The reserve is located 5 km. from Macara on the road towards Sozoranga. Macara is accessible through Loja on the paved road Loja-Catacocha-Macara. Managed by Jocotoco foundation phone: 2272013 (Quito).

Zumba Valley (Zamora Chinchipe)

A biogeographic curiosity in Ecuador. It is an oriental (Amazon basin) valley but its vegetation is dry, here you can observe the phenomenum called "the shadow of humidity". Located in the valley of the Mayo river (drainage of the Marañon), blessed with unique bird species, like the Marañon Tordo (Turdus maranonicus) and the Marañon moon chest (Melanopareia maranonica). How to get here: From Loja take the secondary southbound road Loja-Valladolid-Zumba (155 km.). The trip is about 4 hours. Zumba is one of the southernmost populations of Ecuador.

Main Offices Address: Av. Rumiñahui 221 y 1ra Transversal, San Rafael                                                                                         Quito - Ecuador