Santa Ana de los cuatro rios de Cuenca – a weekend visit

Back to the high altitudes of  La Sierra  – this time in the south. Cuenca, Ecuador is the capital city of Azuay province and enjoys a cool climate at 2500m above sea level. Our plan is to wander at leisure in this lovely city, visit a local family who run a panaderia (bakery) and drive to Chordeleg and other nearby villages before returning to the coast the next day.

Part of our road trip from La Costa is shrouded in mist and cloud. When we reach the National Park (Parque Nacional Cajas) – gateway to the mountains – to photograph the lakes of glacial origin, we are more than 3000m above sea level. It is now relatively clear, windy and very cold on this October Saturday.

National Park 3000m

Cajas National Park

Cuenca  was founded in 500 AD as a Canari settlement – “a land as big as heaven”. When the Spanish arrived in 1557 to establish the walled colonial city that stands today, both the Canari and the Inca who had followed them, had abandoned the site.

Flags flying

Flags fly proudly in every city in South America

Cobblestone streets, colonial parks, squares, churches and cathedrals and museums – Cuenca today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Corner “stone”

Bishop's house

Bishop’s house

Old Spanish residence, now Hotel Los Balcones

Old Spanish residence, now Hotel Los Balcones

Spanish interior detail

Spanish interior detail Hotel Los Balcones

Family run Panaderia

A visit to a family operated Panaderia – fragrant smell of fresh bread

Little suns

Little suns – heavenly treat

So many to choose from

So many to choose from……….


Stone church

Cathedral de la Immaculada

Cuenca artisans at Turi viewpoint

Cuenca artisans outlets at Turi viewpoint – some beautiful leather goods

Cuenca evening

Cuenca evening

Plaza de las Flores markets

Plaza de las Flores markets

Flowers in the plaza

Flowers in the plaza

On Sunday we take a very scenic drive.  The pretty town of Chordeleg with its silver and ceramics shops will be the first stop. Our driver, Sergio, has a plan to select a roadside cafeteria for a “typical” family Sunday lunch before visiting his father’s village of Sig Sig. The Pan American Highway will then provide a fast route back to the coast.  Hairpin bends, heavy traffic and double lines seem to be of little consequence to our driver and certainly do not slow the speed of our descent from the mountains!

Church and park in the square

Church and park in the square in Chordeleg

Private museum Chordeleg

Private museum Chordeleg

Chordeleg pink

Chordeleg Plaza Artesanal

“Typical” Sunday family village lunch

Popular roadside Sunday lunch - roving musicians

Popular roadside Sunday lunch – roving musicians

Village street scene

Village street scene


Cathedral “perro” – street dogs sleep all day

Sig Sig cathedral

Sig Sig cathedral – it was Sunday afternoon – an important last stop for our driver

We took few photos on the return to the coast. We were too busy holding on tightly as Sergio drove skilfully (but VERY fast) through the pretty green valleys, sleepy villages, rolling farmland, cloud forest and then the flat rice fields and sugar plantations to reach the outskirts of Guayaquil. The equatorial sunset was incredibly dramatic – huge red sun, golden, hazy light, soft mauve dusk.