At ten hours, the trip to Cuenca is one of the longest bus trips I’ve taken. Fortunately we caught a night bus, which dropped five groggy travelers (me, Christopher, Tatiana, Jalese, and Christian) off in the middle of Cuenca at 7am. From there, two hours more of bus riding took us to Ingapirca. Here, we were able to observe the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador.

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We stayed in a hostel in the historic district of Cuenca. Nearby were many old churches, bakeries, and wonderful restaurants. I tried a variety of foods, including corn pancakes. Here’s our hostel:

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My favorite day was Saturday, when Christopher and I took the bus to Cajas National Park. The high elevation park is cold, misty, and mostly tourist-free. We spent hours wandering through the paramo (grasslands). Here are some photos showing a fox, a rare hummingbird called Violet-throated Metaltail, flowers, and the strangely-shaped polylepis trees.

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We concluded the trip Sunday with a walk around town to view the street art, taste local food (how’d that chicken foot end up in my arroz con camaron??), and wander through the market.

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The bus home took a winding route through the beautiful Ecuadorian Andes. We passed through small towns nestled in the hillsides, stopping in one of them for dinner at a small roadside cafe. It got dark and we watched the sun set behind a sea of clouds in the interandean valleys to our west. The full moon slowly rose and we spent the next five hours driving through the unending, moonlit mountains.

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