Cuenca is surrounded by colorful villages where skilled artisans work wonders. In San Bartolomé, your first stop, craftsmen have been creating exquisite custom guitars by hand for generations. While in Gualaceo wander through local markets brimming with just-picked produce. Learn about (and taste!) delicious fruits grown only in Ecuador before stopping at the home of a family that weaves one-of-a-kind shawls and ponchos on antique looms using dyes extracted from plants right on the property.
Your next stop is in Bulcay to observe Ikat weaving, an ancient tie-dye process dating to pre-Columbian cultures. Then on to Chordeleg “chorro de oro” (waterfall of gold), a village specializing in jewelry, mainly gold and silver, with fine filigree work. Outstanding handmade ceramic pottery is also found here, along with the chance to observe people weaving Panama hats and other items made of toquilla straw.
Another highlight of this trip is a visit to Ecuagenera, the most important orchid growing laboratory in Ecuador. Marvel at hundreds of exotic species, from exquisitely tiny to outrageously colorful as you tour the facilities and learn about the propagation and preservation of these amazing and beautiful plants. Enjoy a leisurely lunch on the magnificently landscaped grounds of a beautiful countryside hacienda.