Ecuador // The central sierra //


It’s very easy to catch a bus straight out of town to Riobamba (2hr trip), Quito (5hr) or Cuenca (4hr), from the corner of the main street, 5 de Junio, and 9 de Octubre, a few blocks from the train station (t 03/2930126), at the north end of 5 de Junio. If you want to stay, you’ll find plenty of hotels, including the Europa (t 03/2930200; $16–20) on 5 de Junio and Esteban Orozo, the Panamericano (restaurant attached), at the corner of 5 de Junio and 9 de Octubre (t 03/2930156; $16–20) and the Americano, García Moreno 151 (t 03/2930159; $16–20), all with private bath and cable TV. The Banco de Guayaquil at 5 de Junio 143 and Ricaurte near the station has a Visa and MasterCard ATM.

All buses from Alausí to Cuenca pass Chunchi, 35km to the south – which is the access to the mysterious Cañari ruins of Puñay, laid out in the shape of a macaw and said to have strange magnetic properties – and El Tambo, 93km from Alausí, an otherwise unremarkable village that is an access point to the Ingapirca ruins, Ecuador’s most important Inca archeological site.

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