Our family of 4 was visiting Cuenca for 4 days around Christmas time in 2015. Here is some practical information for vacationers. Note that my reference point is Old Town which is the main tourist attraction in Cuenca.
- I emailed Mr. Wash and made arrangement for Laura to pick up my laundry at my hotel. Our clean clothes were delivered the next day. A big laundry basket cost $9 USD. Four days later we decided to do one more load. Laura picked up the laundry at 7 AM and brought it back the same morning at 9:30 AM for the cost of $14. They do not work on Saturdays.
Contact: Laura Pauta: firstname.lastname@example.org 099 577 6742 Movi, 099 055 2419 Claro
- Another option is to go to one of the lavanderia (laundromats). I saw 2 on Hermano Miguel in Old Town within 3 blocks from the river Rio Tomebamba.
Dining in Cuenca can be very reasonable. A complete daily lunch special is between $2 to $5 in many places. Dinner entrees can run between $4 to over $20. Dining options are diverse. There are many pizzerias, Italian, Spanish, South American (Colombian, Venezuelan, etc.), Indian, Mediterranean, Shwarma, Chinese, fast food chains such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Dominos, and of course Ecuadorian restaurants.
I started to panic on Christmas eve, not knowing if anything (food wise) would be opened on the 25th. Have no fear. About 25% of the restaurants are opened including the ones in the hotels.
We stayed at Hotel Zahir 360. It is not in Old Town. It’s less than a 10 minute walk to the river which borders the south side of Old Town. We took a suite ($175 a night after tax) with an amazing sitting room with floor to ceiling glass affording a view of the city and the stadium. The teens had a double room with a view of the city ($125). We liked being away from the traffic of old Town but every time we left the hotel, we had to walk to the river then climb 5 flights of stairs to get to Old Town. Taxis would not drive at such a short distance so we walked EVERY single time. The hotel earns a bonus point when one night the hotel manager invited us to the roof in the evening for a 360 degree view of the city. Wow!
I got 2 deep tissue massages.
- One from Tanya at Armonia Vital. She was AMAZING! $25 an hour.
Contact: email@example.com Phone: 098 469 8844
- After a long day of hiking at El Cajas national park, I really wanted a massage and Cameron Kayce was able to fit me in. She operates out of her home. She is an American who knows her way around a massage table. $25 an hour.
Contact: Cameronkayce@gmail.com Phone: 099 987 4417
- I tried to call Sojo Spa but they are booked out for 2 weeks!
- El Cajas national park: James at FINTASTIC ADVENTURES was our guide. James had another great spot at a higher elevation which we opted not to do because some of us were prone to altitude sickness. We really enjoyed our hike around the lake near the park entrance. Even though this was an easy hike, the scenery was beautiful.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org – phone: 099 564 7799
- Centro Ecuestre Bellavista: We went horseback riding at this ranch, guided by Sebastian Donoso. The horses were great for us first timers. The landscape was breathtaking. $40 for 2 hours per person.
Contact: email@example.com Phone: 0994150643
- Hacienda Uzhupud: It cost us $20 each way to take a 30 minute ride taxi from Cuenca to the hacienda in Paute. It’s a sprawling property in a tranquil setting. We walked around the property for 30 minutes and had dinner. The food was good with entrée pricing from $15 to $20. Overall I would advise to skip it as a day trip.