Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trip to Amaru

Today we took the trip to the Cuenca Zoo called Amaru (which means "snake" in Quechua).  It is about a 20 minute bus ride and is located high above the Hospital del Rio on the southeast side of Cuenca.  (Their website is

Overlooking Cuenca as we start our tour

The zoo has five different regions, with animals and plants from each corresponding region (Andean, Dry Forest, Rainforest, Barren Plateau, and Exotic Animals).  It is more a nature preserve than a zoo as the animals are living in their natural habitat with room to roam or fly.  It's great to see animals that are not in small cages. 

Amanda, our tour guide

Starting on the tour
Our tour took about two hours total.  If you want to see all of the zoo, allow from three to four hours.

Getting higher up into the mountain
Entering bear country
Male and one of the females

Male bear looking our way
 The bears (one male and two females) were used to living in very small cages and developed the stereotypical habit of pacing back and forth.  When first introduced to their new home, their pacing diminished within two weeks and now they roam freely in their natural environment.
A portion of the bear habitat

Alpacas (their necks are shorter than llamas)

This tour turned into a very strenuous hike up and down pathways that were uneven and at times slippery with mud.  So if you decide to go, be forewarned that it is a difficult hike and our group of twelve was not able to finish it.  As what happens all too often here in Ecuador, you are not given any details and have no idea of what to expect -- but one thing for sure, you won't be bored!



This is the male peacock (prettier than the female, of course).  The female was nearby but she blended in with the color of the hill.

White-tailed deer


Female with baby (so cute!)

African Lions

Male lion with two females

6 month old cubs

There was a lot more to see (squirrel monkeys, Amazon parrots, macaws, Galapagos tortoises) but we decided to turn around and head back down the mountain.  It was a lot of fun, the weather was great, and we got a good workout while enjoying nature.  Another great day outdoors!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Patty. Having this blog has turned out to be a fun hobby. Hope Kenny's getting better.

  2. Ditto on enjoying the pics... looking forward to visiting the zoo now :)

    1. Someone asked me how I liked it and I said that if I was an animal, it would be great; but for a person it was a difficult hike!

  3. This looks really fun. I didn't know that Cuenca had a zoo and it looks so interesting. Peggy

    1. Hello,

      This zoo just opened up three weeks ago. I think we were the first tour group to go see it and I think they now know how to prepare people for the hike. I was really happy to see how well cared for the animals are and how large their enclosures are.

  4. Patty, Where is the zoo located? Is it very far out of the city, or in the city limits? Also, in the hiking, is there a lot of uphill climbing? (You said, you decided to come down the mountain.) Are the animals usually visible in each habitat, or do they tend to stay hidden? Great photos. Those bears looked like they could just walk over to you, and give you a big bear hug. Jim Mola

    1. Hi Jim,

      The zoo isn't that far away -- high above the Hospital del Rio. You can check it out on their website mentioned in my blog. There is a fair bit of hiking involved but we were able to see all of the animals and the temperature was perfect. They have a place about halfway through the zoo where you can stop and rest, use the bathroom, and get refreshments also.