One of the best sources for travel tips, especially for discovering off-the-beaten-path jewels, are travel blogs. The following is an entry posted earlier this year in Nancy and Chuck Watson’s blog. The Watsons have homes in Cuenca and in Washington state, where their children and grandchildren live.
We went to Chordeleg, a small town about an hour northeast of Cuenca. Chordeleg is best known as a jewelry center. Silver and gold have been mined nearby for centuries and artists design and make jewelry here. The town square is surrounded by jewelry stores.
The scenery in the Paute Valley, where Chordeleg is located, is beautiful. The area is a little lower than Cuenca in elevation so the climate is just a bit milder.
North of Chordeleg, just outside of the town of Gualaceo, is the large orchid farm, Ecuagenera Orquideas del Ecuador. This was our first visit and the place exceeded our expectations. We had a personal guided tour of the whole process and found out how these beautiful orchids are raised. I had a wonderful time photographing the flowers and am sharing some with you. (March 9, 2008)
Note: Ecuagenera is one of the world’s largest orchid growing operations, cultivating more than 2500 varieties of orchids. Due in part to Ecuagnera, the Cuenca area hosts several international orchid shows for both scientists and enthusiasts check the Ecuagenera website, www.ecuagenera.com, for event information. An excellent reference on Ecuador’s 4,000 varieties of orchids, by the way, is Native Ecuadorian Orchids by Calaway H. Dodson.