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Take a walk or trek on 16 nature hikes in the hills surrounding Cuenca

Published on November 29, 2022

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A free physical and digital guide promotes tours of different elevations that surround the city.

Barabón – Centro Huizhil – Baños is one of the 16 routes detailed in “CaminAntes, por los cerros ancestrales de Cuenca,” (‘A walk through the ancestral hills of Cuenca’) a guide that was developed by Daniel Orellana, an expert in geographic information, mapping and the movement of people.

The tour begins at the rustic San Juan de Barabón wooden bridge, which crosses the Yanuncay River. Its waters are so crystalline that you can see trout swimming below you, a favored fish found in the local restaurants.

Route 14: Barabón – Cerro Huizhil – Baños begins at the rustic San Juan wooden bridge.

When you look up, you can see the imposing Huizhil peak that announces the start of the ascent. Then you begin to burn calories and wear out the soles of your shoes.

Doña Rosa Quito, a resident of the sector, says that this area is regularly visited by people who hike and mountain bike.

The journey ends in the tourist parish of Baños, after going through different points such as Minas and Chapaloma, which have tomato and capulí trees, ornamental palms, achiras, and native plants like anthuriums, reeds, lime trees, roses, geraniums and willows. This ‘Andean painting’ is complemented by adobe houses and domestic animals.

Walkers on route 14 end their journey in the tourist parish of Baños.

Don Jaime Berrezueta has a store in this magical place. He says that his income has improved because walkers and cyclists who travel this route buy products from him.

After reaching to peak of the mountain, landscapes open with impressive views of the city.

There are 3.80 kilometers of wonderful Andean scenes made up of vegetation, pastures and crops. It is also easy to observe birds such as sparrows, blackbirds and hummingbirds.

Goal of the guide

This project promotes physical activity and recovers the collective memory and the meaning of the elevations that surround the city, since most of them have archaeological remains that reveal the history of the ancestors, mainly Cañaris and Incas. “It’s a walk in space, but also in time,” says Orellana.

In total, 16 routes were designed that are located around Cuenca. “They have beautiful perspectives of the city, both towards the urban and rural sides.”

The objective initially was to complete a pedestrian connectivity ring around the city. Unfortunately, some of the trails Orellana thought he could use to achieve that goal have been lost to history for various reasons, like the disorderly processes of urbanization and road openings.

Orellana says that some routes were designed to be done as a family, with a minimum level of difficulty. But there are also other exclusive ones for high mountains that require a greater physical demand.

“Each of the 16 routes is rated and classified, so it has its own recommendations,” he said.

These and other data were published in the “CaminAntes” guide available at www.caminantescuenca.org .

You can download the GPS files to navigate using your cell phone with your favorite app (e.g., the AllTrails platform) or use detailed maps of each route in PDF.

Second stage

This initiative was born in the previous municipal administration and was presented in December 2019.

“CaminAntes” generated great expectations, however, it was interrupted with the start of the pandemic.

“With the economic and social reactivation, we plan to promote a second stage of the project, which includes cycling routes,” said Orellana, who is a consultant and researcher at the University of Cuenca.

The routes

Route 1

Cerro Zhinglla – Cerro Cachaulo

Traveled distance: 12.3 km (7.6 miles)

Estimated time: 4.5 hours

Low difficulty

Route 2

Cerro Cachaulo – Llacao

Traveled distance: 8.82 km (5.5 miles)

Estimated time: 4.5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 3

Llacao – Cerro Pachamama – Zhiquir

Traveled distance: 11.80 km (7.3 miles)

Estimated time: 4.5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 4

Silver Hill – Guagualzhumi Hill

Distance travelled: 8.64 (5.4 miles)

Estimated time: 5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 5

Guagualzhumi Hill – Paccha

Traveled distance: 5.00 km (3.1 miles)

Estimated time: 4 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 6

Guagualzhumi – Cerro Jalshi

Traveled distance: 6.67 km (4.1 miles)

Estimated time: 3.5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 7

Ucubamba – Cerro Cabullin – Rayoloma

Traveled distance: 6.32 km (3.9 miles)

Estimated time: 3 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 8

Castilla Cruz – Hitocruz -Turi

Traveled distance: 5.83 km (3.6 miles)

Estimated time: 3.5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 9

Cerro El Verde – Cerro Monjas

Traveled distance: 8.18 km (5.1 miles)

Estimated time: 4.5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 10

Jutcoloma – Papaloma

Traveled distance: 8.42 km (5.2 miles)

Estimated time: 4 hours

Low difficulty

Route 11

French Urco-Tarqui

Traveled distance: 8.50 km (5.3 miles)

Estimated time: 3.5 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 12


Traveled distance: 3.46 km (2.15 miles)

Estimated time: 3 hours

Low difficulty

Route 13

Narancay – Uchuloma – Baños

Traveled distance: 8.79 km (5.46 miles)

Estimated time: 6 hours

High difficulty

Route 14

Barabón – Cerro Huizhil – Baños

Traveled distance: 4.18 km (2 .6 miles)

Estimated time: 3.3 hours

Medium difficulty

Route 15

Barabón – Pallkarumi – Sayausi

Traveled distance: 12.90 km (8.0 miles)

Estimated time: 9.5 hours

High difficulty

Route 16

Sayausi – Cabogana

Traveled distance: 8.83 km (5.5 miles)

Estimated time: 7.5 hours

High difficulty


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