Hacienda Uhzupud is a wonderful hosteria/resort located in what's known as Paute Valley about 40 minutes from Cuenca. It has been in the same familys' hands for 132 years and, in very recent years, has experienced a lot of renovation, upgrades, and additions. The property has 62 rooms, swimpool, soccer field, disco, booze-making museum, stunning restaurant, fountains, gym, game room, a pond, a church, and more.
I'll let the following photos do the talking:
|Main entrance from the parking lot.|
|Covered walkway from the parking lot.|
|Fireplace lounge with barrel-rolled ceilings.|
|Staircase leading to the rear of the property, gardens, and pool.|
|View from the staircase down to the pool area.|
|Path to the duck pond.|
|Sugar Cane squisher. You stick the cane stalk in-between the rollers and a horse/donkey/human pushes the timber around in cicles so it feeds the cane stalk through the rollers, squishing out the cane juice.|
|Then, they used some of these gadgets (and in the next photos) to make the booooooooze.|
|Good way to use and old bathtub!!|
|Big oven to bake bread in.|
|We couldn't get inside the chapel, so I took this shot through a window.|
.....Now where to?
In Gualaceo (Wall-uh-say-oh), we stopped at another hosteria 'Santa Barbara'. Hosteria Santa Barbara was created from an old rundown finca (farm) that an investor purchased for 1 million dollars and turned it into a magnificent hotel/spa getaway. It includes rooms and casitas, swimpool, jacuuzi, turkish steam boxes, massage rooms, restaurant, disco, horses, golf, tennis courts, and impecably manicured grounds. HSB offers day-use for a small fee for those who don't want to stay overnight.
Gualaceo is located about 40 minutes from Cuenca in the Paute Valley. The area is a bit lower than Cuenca, dryer, and warmer.
Again, I'll let the photos do the talking:
|Enter the property via long bricked, palm-lined driveway.|
After we left Hosteria Santa Barbara, I showed the girls (all 4 of them...2 humans...2 dogs) this old viaduct and drove across the old wooden single-lane bridge. There's a LOT of those here!!
.....Still on our way to Sig-Sig I took a short jaunt off the main road to stop in Chordeleg (Chor-deh-leg). It's well known as the jewelry capital of Ecuador. We only stopped for a bit to look at some jewelry shops (they get redundant after awhile) and have a $3 lunch before taking off again....toooo....Sig-Sig!!!
|The church of Chordeleg on the main square in the center of town (as they all are) and lined with dozens of jewelry stores.|
|A deep gorge along the way to Sig-Sig.|
Sig-Sig is known for the location of a panama hat factory of which, to this day, I have yet to find, though I've tried 3 times. For being "well-known" there are NO signs pointing to where it is!!
|We ventured down to the river. I acted like I was going to drive across this bridge. The girls really thought I was going to do it. hehehheheehehhe|
|A very nice park along the slow moving river. There were several beach-like areas along the waters edge to wander and look for purty rocks.|
|Maisie, one of the two dogs with us, LOVES the water! Throw a stick and she'll go nuts.|
Gracie (my dog)...no way Jose.
|This is another hosteria we stopped at in Sig-Sig. Very quaint and just a block from the river. Sorry, can't remember the name of it!!!|
|On the way back to Cuenca, I drove a different route than the way we came in...essentially, a loop. It took us past the small village of San Bartolome, which is known for the guitars made there.|
For those of you who want to get 'out there' but don't own a car here, there's still hope for you. Check out Cuenca Car Share online. Juan and David have a handful of new/new-ish cars for rent at far less cost than renting from Avis or Budget and the like. Their cars are ALREADY INSURED so there's no gouging on extra fees. Regular tax (verus city tax, airport tax, user tax, special tax, and football stadium tax) is the ONLY tax. Then, a small amount per KM. It's a very affordable way to 'get up and get away' for a couple days, a week, or whatever. Don't know your way around? They can provide a GPS. And, all you need is a valid drivers license (from wherever). Oh, and they have a presence in Quito as well!
Click here to see Cuenca Car Share's website!!
Or...there's plenty of private drivers for hire here and many of them speak English. Cost is about $12 an hour which includes their time, gas, wear/tear on car, waiting, etc. Gringo Post is an excellent resource for finding drivers. Just go to the website CLICK HERE and do a search for "driver". You'll see many of them listed as recommendations by others who've used them before. Using this forum helps to reassure you on reliability and safety concerns.
Get some friends together and split the costs!