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SOUTHERN ECUADOR Two to Three Weeks/Andes & Amazon

After a day in Riobamba (pi80), leave the gringo trail and visit the fascinating Thursday market at Guamote (pi89) before veering east into Parque Nacional Sangay (pi76) via the new Guamote-Macas road. Stop in Atillo for a couple of days of spectacular hiking around the crystalline Lagunas de Atillo (pi77). From Atillo continue downhill to Macas (p259), a friendly town bathed in the siesta-inducing tropical humidity of the southern Oriente. In Macas hire a guide for a cultural tour to an indigenous Shuar community, or walk (without a guide) to the village of Sevilla (p263). You can also hire a guide in Macas to take you down the Rio Santiago to the Cueva de losTayos (p264), the cave-home of Ecuador's mysterious oil birds. After a few days in Macas, travel sout.fr through Sucúa (p264), and the wee town \

of Limón (p264) and stop in whatever jungle village piques your interest. After a day in Gualaquiza (p264) either venture uphill to Cuenca (likely the prettiest darn town in the southern Oriente; pi95) via the scenic dirt road through Sigsig (p210) or continue south through the rain forest to Zamora (p218), where you can explore Parque Nacional Podocarpus (p216). After a day or two in Zamora, climb back into the Andes to Loja (p212) where you'll rejoin the tourist trail. Take a breather (and treat yourself to a massage) in laid-back Vilcabamba (p219), and then work your way down the western side of the Andes to Catacocha (p224). After a day in Catacocha, make your way to Puyango (p343) to visit one of South America's largest petrified forests, before winding your way back to Cuenca.

This will take you through the southern sector of Parque Nacional Sangay and into the little visited reaches of the southern Oriente. You'll pass through tiny jungle towns and see indigenous Shuar before climbing back into and over the Andes for a tumble down the western side.

22 ITINERARIES •• Tailored Trips

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