One of the prettiest areas we’ve seen is in the Yunguilla Valley – just south of Cuenca. This area is just north of a little town called Santa Isabel. Yunguilla Valley is significantly warmer than Cuenca and as a result is full of fruit trees: mangoes, oranges, bananas, avocados and lemons.
The road across the river was washed out, so we never did find out where it went, but the view was amazing.
Where is the Yunguilla Valley?
In the southwest – only about an hour drive from Cuenca (Ecuador’s third-largest city) – we discovered the Yunguilla Valley. The temperate climate, fertile land, and beautiful views make this small area a unique little gem.
Whether you are interested in high mountains, desert, or lush greenery this valley offers it all.
Although known as a weekend and vacation spot to people from the nearby city, it was a well-kept secret from the outside world until recently. Getting to this area is rather simple.
There are frequent buses that leave from Feria Libre or the Terminal Terrestre in Cuenca. Bus drivers let you off wherever you tell them to. If you travel in your own car take the Panamericana south out of the city and follow the signs to Pasaje/Machala.
About 20 km away from town you come to a big intersection – the left branch continuous to Loja, the right branch drops southwest into the valley.
What You Can Do in the Yunguilla Valley
Small paths invite to stroll through the garden and trees. The tilapia fish in our big reservoir are always happy to get a little extra food. There is fishing poles available for those that want to catch their own…
There is an abundance of things to do and explore in our immediate vicinity and the surrounding area. It all depends on your personal preference, available time and fitness level.
Excursions through different climate zones, visiting a sugar cane mill or local sugar cane distillery, visiting waterfalls, hiking or bird watching at the local bird reserve to name just a few.
We saw a lot of birds and hummingbirds during our stay. It was nice to hear them singing while we sat outside and ate lunch, and when we relaxed in the afternoon.
The Jocotoco Conservation Foundation is home to an extremely rare bird (the Pale-headed Brush-Finch) and one of the world’s smallest hummingbirds.
On one of our walks, it started raining and we discovered that banana plant leaves make perfect umbrellas. We also saw a bird’s nest made out of mud which looked just like a little mud oven.
Although it is close to Cuenca it is a different world in the Yunguilla Valley. The natural beauty of the Valley is stunning.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Hi, I’m Bryan Haines. And I’m a co-founder of Storyteller.Travel. I’m a traveler and photographer.
I also blog about photography on Storyteller Tech.
Thursday 27th of June 2019
Hi, Does Santa Isabel lay in the cloud forest? Are there many days when a mist covers the ground? Thank you. Tim Mecke
Friday 19th of September 2014
Hi, can you comoare Zaruma, Malacatos, Loja and Yunguilla valley/ Giron forme in an overall kind of way. I knowits hard without particulars but things like weather,safety, cost of living, rentals, hospital,stores, etc. Anything off the top!! We hope to be there Feb 2015. Gracias, joe
Monday 14th of July 2014
Thanks for your info!! We should be in Loja Feb 01, 2015, visit 2 nights in Cuenca (can u recommend a modest hotel) and reading on The Yunguilla valley should we visit there also? My desire is to retire early in 2017 or 2018 with approx $900 per month and my wife is 7 yrs younger so that extra needed income will have to wait. Can we really live comfortably and modestly, and with no car and access by bus from ..say...the outskirts of the city? My biggest concern us to be abke to attend a (preferably) Baptist church and do volunteer work for the community. This is my passion to serve God and people! We are fluent in both span/eng me being the more GringoTino type and have Puerto Rican parents. We are born in NYC but wifey rasied in PR. I'm ex-police, corrections, govt, US Air Force, a chaplain and an associate Pastor. Imperfect human being. I hate Cold weather anything under 55 degrees daytime or Hot over 85 will kill me. We are in So Fla!!!So is Cenca, The Valley, Loja, Malacatos or Zaruma for us? Im 60 yrs old and its good to have a hospital nearby LoL ha. Hope to see you in Cuenca first week if Feb and lunch ,dinner on us!!if you write my email i would be most appreciative, God bless you, your damily and the awesome work you do informing us of Ecuador!
Monday 9th of December 2013
Hello Bryan, First time commenting here and I just want to say what a gift it is to have you here. So thank you. I have the Ecuadorian energy surge for sure. My husband and I have been really focusing on creating an eco-friendly lifestyle and one that does not require expansive living. My thoughts about the Loja area. Do you know anything about this area, rentals, climate ect. May you contintue this awesome site and what a contribution you are. Great Job! Sollena
Tuesday 25th of June 2013
My husband and I are taking early retirement next year and moving to Ecuador. We're focusing on the Yunguilla Valley because Cuenca seems to cold and damp for our liking. I know there are several hospitals in Cuenca, but we're curious just how far we would be from emergency medical care living in the Valley. Are there ambulances or some way of transport in the event of a medical emergency? Where would we be taken?
Thursday 27th of June 2013
There is a hospital in Girón and there are ambulances in some of the clinics. I think you would be taken to one of the local clinics - depending on how serious the emergency is. The clinics transfer patients to Cuenca if there is a need. Because there aren't many ambulances, many Cuencanos call taxis or drive themselves to the hospital - I'm sure it's the same in Yunguilla.