El Cajas National Park
A final breakfast at the El Dorado Hotel before we must leave Cuenca and head down to Guayaquil. The President of Ecuador has arrived in Cuenca first thing this morning and there are some government dignatories arriving at our hotel. We decide to make a quick exit so, with picnic lunches on board, we head for El Cajas National Park. This park is known for dramatic scenery and hundreds of clear, cold lakes, streams and rivers. Llamas and alpacas have been brought in as part of a breeding programme and the park is also an excellent bird-watching location. On route across El Cajas we stop at the visitor centre before starting "down hill" to the coast. It is a truly dramatic road, with the cloud below us for much of the way. Around lunch time we stop at a friendly cafe and borrow their chairs and tables for our picnic. We're made welcome and we buy some drinks and extra provisions by way of a "thank you". One of the younger members of the local family, a boy of 3 or 4 years old, collects the excess picnic items and ends up with a bag full of fruit, chips and drinks - so heavy he can hardly carry it.
Continuing our journey we see plantations of cocoa, banana, sugar cane and rice. Mid afternoon we arrive in the city of Guayaquil. Our luxury hotel, the Hilton, awaits. This evening we enjoy a dinner buffet in the Cafe Colon. Dawn and her guests arriving for our 12-day Galapagos itinerary land at Guayaquil Airport early this evening. Apparently it is pretty chaotic in the arrivals hall. Half of the flight passengers are returning home to Ecuador and are carrying vast amounts of luggage - probably consumer goods from Europe. The bag carousel can't take the strain so Dawn and her guests handle ALL the luggage to avoid complete disaster!