Cuenca is undoubtedly the cultural and artistic jewel of Ecuador, with a UNESCO World Heritage designated historic centre, replete with colonial-era architecture.
The pace and the climate in Cuenca are both gentler than the capital city and Cuenca has a real charm and easy way of being.
In addition to the beautiful churches and eclectic architecture of the old town, Cuenca is also home to a rich artisinal tradition and one of the joys of a stay in Cuenca is admiring or shopping for local ceramics and metalwork.
Cuenca's indiginous women are conspicuous for their vibrant and ornate dress, whilst lovers of headwear will find no shortage of Panama hats on offer!
Other highlights of the south include the superb Parque Nacional Podocarpus which ranges across chilly highlands and steamy jungle.