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.