Southern Highlands

The convoluted topography of the Southern Highlands, comprising the provinces of Cañar, Azuay and Loja, reveals an ancient non-volcanic past distinct from its northern Sierra neighbours. This region is home to many treasures. Here is Ecuador's prime Inca site, two of its most spectacular national parks, and Cuenca - the nation's most congenial city and focal point of
El Austro
, as southern Ecuador is called. Cuenca boasts some of the country's finest colonial architecture, and the Cuenca basin is a major
artesanía
centre, producing ceramics, baskets, gold and silver jewellery and textiles, as well as the famous Panama hat.

In addition to Cuenca's cultural attractions, a pleasant climate and magnificent scenery make the Southern Highlands prime walking country. Vilcabamba, south of Loja, is a particularly suitable base for trekking and horse riding excursions, with nearby undisturbed
páramo
and cloud forest, home to many birds and other wildlife.

The Southern Highlands have an extensive road network and there is access to the Peruvian border at several different points.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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