The guide was outstanding and very accommodating to our interests. We chose to travel to Cuenca with a local person in order to learn about the culture and the places we drove through. For this the tour was perfect. He is bilingual as are we so the conversations were fun and informative. We were able to visit a cacao farm though not the regular one because the guide convinced a nearby farmer so spend some time with us which we enjoyed immensely. Cajas Park is stunning but the top of the pass is at 11,000 feet so we did not spend time there due to the cold weather and elevation. The bus is only 8 per person its comfortable and safe and easy to take we returned by bus! but totally uninteresting.
This was a better way for us to go from Guayaquil to Cuenca. Our guide Javier, the founder of Cuenca Bestours, is steeped not only in historical details but also in the flora and fauna of his country. He was helpful in correcting our Spanish and when asked could explain something in English as well. Although the cocoa farm wasn't quite what we initially expected and the owner was nowhere in sight, Javier was able to explain the cocoa growing process as well as give us the opportunity to taste the coating on the cocoa beans after the pod was opened. Since we would not have time in Cuenca to visit Cajas National Park, we really appreciated the time we had in the park en route to Cuenca. We were able to hike for about an hour plus along the Inca trail that goes through the park, going from point A to point B, where Javier met us. The scenery is incredibly beautiful and mysterious and while the altitude is similar to many areas of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the situation of Ecuador on the equator allows plants that wouldn't exist at that altitude to grow. It is often maybe always windy in the park, so dress accordingly to enjoy it fully. By coincidence, we ended up having two more tours with Cuenca Bestours, mainly because their tours seemed the most interesting, fit our budget and our time. Although it is a new tour business, Javier seems to have had many years experience working as a guide for other outfits, before striking out on his own. He, as well as our other CBT guide, both have had three years education and training in a university hospitality program, with what seems to be intensive training in the knowledge needed to help tourists learn and understand the people, history, flora and fauna of Ecuador.