There are a number of very rewarding excursions you can make in the area around Cuenca, using the city as a base for day-trips. Fifteen minutes away, the thermal baths of Baños are supremely relaxing, particularly after a spot of hiking or fishing in Parque Nacional Cajas, forty minutes west of the city, packed with trout-filled lakes, brooding mountains and swirling mists. Heading east, you can visit the rural communities of Gualaceo, Chordeleg and Sigsig on a scenic bus ride through the hills, and find out more about the crafts produced there. Southwest of Cuenca, on the road to Machala, the small town of Girón makes a worthwhile excursion for its nearby waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation.

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