While the Inca invaded these lands only a few decades before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, they left intriguing remains like the golden-green walls of the Temple of the Sun at Ingapirca. This archaeology park protects both Incan and Cañari ruins, providing interpretive signs in Spanish along the trails.
Chordeleg is home to many artisans. Some work with paja toquilla, the straw used to weave the iconic Panama Hats; others with looms to make macanas, a type of shawl similar to an ikat; and a few work with silver, crafting the delicate filigree jewelry famous in the Azuay Province.
Learn more about the history of the Panama Hat and understand its Ecuadorian origins with a visit to Sigsig. In 2012, UNESCO declared the methods of making these straw hats an intangible cultural heritage that deserves protection. A day trip to Sigsig is often combined with Chordeleg and Gualaceo.
The small town of Cojitambo is nestled in a valley below a set of Incan ruins. Both locations are worth visiting, the town for its quaintness and photo-worthy plaza, the ruins for their uniqueness. The Inca made some progress in the conquest of Ecuador but left few sites as intact as Cojitambo.
Not to be confused with Baños de Agua Santa located further to the north, this Baños is also a spa town. Enjoy the hot mineral water baths after hiking local nature trails or exploring the small town and the unconventional blue and white church with its rounded twin towers.
The capital of the Cañar Province, Azogues is home to archaeology museums, historic churches and artisan workshops. Several protected forests provide outdoor adventure nearby. This small city is a great way to explore the Ecuadorian Andes while escaping the majority of tour groups headed to better-known locations.