Saraguro-Photos-8

Saraguro – Ecuador – Information


SEPTEMBER 2018:


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OVERVIEW:

PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Ecuador is US$s.

In Cuenca, I stayed a total of 5 nights at the Posada Gran Colombia for under US$16 / night … it was on the north-eastern ‘edge’ of the Historical Centre. I was in the wrong location.Cuenca - Posada Gran Colombia - Room Furniture

My room was a good size and came with good in-room WiFi, cable TV (with lots of English Speaking channels), clothes rack, and a Hot Water Ensuite (you need hot water at this time of year!).Cuenca - Posada Gran Colombia - Ensuite Entry

My room rate included a free (simple) Breakfast.Cuenca-Posada-Gran-Colombia-Breakfast

Cuenca didn’t really do much for me … I am becoming more and more convinced that I am NOT a city person.

It was time to move on further south. I decided to stop by at the small hill town of Saraguro on my way to Vilcabamba …


GETTING THERE:

I walked the 15 minutes (approx 1km) from my hostal to the Terminal Terrestre. For those of you without Breakfast, you will be pleased to know that there are some good, cheap eateries just outside of the terminal. I only stopped for a quick mug of black coffee ($0.50c).Cuenca - Bus Terminal Eateries

I bought my 10:00am ticket to Saraguro (US$5) the previous day.Cuenca - Bus Terminal Bays

My luggage went underneath (no receipt). The bus was very comfortable. It was not full.Cuenca - Bus to Saraguro

We left at 10:10am and headed up into the hills.Cuenca to Saraguro - 1

The scenery was beautiful.Cuenca to Saraguro - 2 Cuenca to Saraguro - 3

And the roads wound their way through the valleys.Cuenca to Saraguro - 4 Cuenca to Saraguro - 5 Cuenca to Saraguro - 6

We arrived in Saraguro 3 hours later at 1:10pm.Cuenca to Saraguro - 7 Cuenca to Saraguro - 8

Little was I to know that this scenic journey was to be the best part of my visit to Saraguro! …


ABOUT SARAGURO:

Saraguro is a cold, boring little hill town in the southern highlands of Ecuador.Saraguro Location Map

You can, probably, walk around it all in 2-3 hours.Saraguro Town Map


PHOTO GALLERY:

Our walk starts at my Achik Wasi Hostal on the south western hill.Saraguro-Photos-1

And, we wind our way down half cobbled streets into town.Saraguro-Photos-2

The poorly maintained surrounding streets don’t prepare you for the pride that the community has invested in the centre of town.Saraguro-Photos-3

In the centre, you find tidy parks and clean streets.Saraguro-Photos-4

Next to the main park is the obligatory church.Saraguro-Photos-6

Otherwise, alas, there is hardly anything of interest here!


ACCOMMODATION:

You have hardly any choices. Google Maps shows a couple of unlisted hostels between the main road and the main square.

Accommodation-wise, this is typical of what you find online … this is for 1 night in late September 2018:

HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):

BOOKING.COM:

Saraguro Booking

I have stopped providing Agoda listings. They more often than not (now) just refer you back to BOOKING.COM listings … and Agoda doesn’t allow you to filter for rooms with a Private Bathroom (which wastes me a lot of time).


PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com usually displays prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You may need to add up to 12% to the displayed price to get the final price.

VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):

If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AirBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental. I have stopped listing Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals. Alas, TripAdvisor rarely have anything within GRANDPAcker price range.

Due to additional ‘service’ and ‘cleaning’ charges, Holiday Rentals are usually best rented by the week. A comparable search reveals the following … Please Note: these prices are in US$s

AIRBnB:

Saraguro AirBnB


PLEASE NOTE: AirBnB usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any ‘Security Deposit’ (if required). ALSO, the displayed price may also be EXCLUSIVE of ‘Service Fees’ (which can add as much as 16%). ALSO, watch out for any ‘Cleaning Fee’ as some places charge more than 1 day’s rent!

In S.E. Asia, I wouldn’t touch AirBnB with a barge pole … in my opinion and experience the accommodation that you find is an absolute rip off. However, here, they are worth a look.

IN SUMMARY:

You can choose from the Achik Wasi … or, gamble on one of the unlisted hostals.


WHERE TO STAY:

South of and southwest of the Rikury Restaurant gets hilly … fast. The Achik Wasi is a long, tiring climb.Saraguro-Achik-Wasi-View

Stay close to the main square.


ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Don’t bother. You won’t be staying here.


MY ACCOMMODATION:

I booked myself into the Hostal Achik Wasi … it was up a steep hill on the southwestern side of town. It was a poor location.Saraguro-Achik-Wasi-Road

One of the nicest things about the Achik Wasi was the grounds.Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Grounds

I booked 3 nights in a Double Room (single occupancy) at a discounted rate of just under US$28 / night including Breakfast (nearly DOUBLE what I paid in Cuenca!).Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Rooms

My room was dark and an average size.Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Room Entry

It had some furniture … including a wardrobe. It is cold in Saraguro, so they provided a heater in the room. The heater had 3 bars. Only one worked. The one that worked only produced light (very little heat). The room was freezing at night … you needed the 3 thick blankets on your bed.Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Furniture

It had Cable TV with NO English speaking channels. The TV picture was covered in ‘snow’. I had to pull out the coax cable and fix the connections to get a decent picture.Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Bed

It had an average sized ensuite.Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Ensuite Entry

The toilet flush kept jamming: I had to fix that too. The ‘hot water’ shower had hot water that lasted just long enough to fool you into jumping in and getting wet. After that, it struggled to reach the definition of ‘warm’.Saraguro - Achik Wasi - Shower

The hotel wifi was frustrating. You loaded your browser and signed in using a Username and Password. Every night / morning it ran out of credits and you had to go back to reception to get a new one.Saraguro-Achik-Wasi-Restaurant

The Free Breakfast was in the restaurant. There was no wifi signal in the restaurant.Saraguro-Achik-Wasi-Free-Breakfast

The Free Breakfast was the highlight … a veritable feast.

The hostal advertises lunches for US$5 and Dinners for US$5 as additional meal options. Alas, when I enquired about them, I was told that they weren’t available. For 2 of the 3 days, I was the only person in the hostal.


INTERNET / WIFI:

Your accommodation should provide free WiFi. Don’t expect the WiFi in the in-town hostals to be any good. You will find free WiFi in the ‘better’ restobars around town. I got an H+ signal on my Claro mobile.Saraguro-Photos-8

CLARO POSTPAID SIM:

I had my Claro SIMcard and Postpaid Package that I bought at Quito Airport.

For more details, read my post on Canoa.


TRANSPORT:

Local buses to the nearby towns leave from around the main park.

Long distance buses leave from outside of the Cooperativa de Transportes Viajeros. Remember this place … you are going to need it very quickly! 🙂Saraguro-Photos-7

You can walk everywhere around the Town Centre.

It costs US$1 to get a taxi up to the Achik Wasi.


EAT:

There are several choices in the cheap to medium price range.Saraguro-Photos-5

You won’t find any Fine Dining options. You will find the nicer places around one of the 2 central parks.

CHEAP EATS:

In the side streets you can get something like a 1/8th Chicken with Chips for US$2.

ALMUERZO:

If you want to keep food prices down to a minimum, the Almuerzos are almost a must. An Almuerzo is a set lunchtime meal that can (often) still be had as late as 6pm in the afternoon. The usual price is US$2.50-US$3.00 for a meal that includes a fruit drink, a soup starter and a main of rice, salad & (a small piece) of meat.

IN SUMMARY:

Expect to pay an average of US$3 for a cheap local Breakfast with coffee. Breakfast usually includes a free fruit juice.

Expect to pay an average of US$3 for a cheap ‘Almuerzo’ Lunch with fruit drink.

Expect to pay an average of US$6.50 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.


DRINK:

A typical price for a large 600ml Pilsener is $1.75 and a 550ml Club US$2. You won’t find any Happy Hours in these sorts of towns.

I found that the nicest place to have a sunset drink was around one of the 2 main squares where there are 3-4 cafes with outside tables with views.Saraguro-ShamuiCo-View

I found myself down at the ShamuiCo or (when that was closed on Mondays & Tuesdays) next door at the Tupay.Saraguro-ShamuiCo-Outside-Tables

US$2 for a Club and, on Sundays (when the sale of alcohol is meant to be restricted), they throw in some free nibbles.


MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:

There are a couple of good supermarkets around town. All shops sell at ‘locals’ prices.


BANKS / ATMs / MONEY EXCHANGE:

There are banks and ATMs.

There is no Bureau De Change.


HEALTH & SAFETY:

There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.

The main problem is Petty Theft … which is a ‘typical’ problem in Latin America. Don’t leave anything unattended. Lock up your hotel room. Lock up your valuables within your hotel room (single lock hotel room doors are notoriously easy to break into without a key).

There were no mosquitos around.

Don’t drink the tap water.


WHEN TO GO:

Don’t bother. Go somewhere else.


WHAT TO DO:

Leave as soon as possible.


GETTING AWAY:

From Saraguro, I head further south to Vilcabamba. I will tell you more about that in my next post.


GRANDPAcking COSTS:

I have not bothered providing a cost breakdown. Needless to say that (if you can find accommodation at local prices other than the Achik Wasi) living here would be cheap and within budget.

But, I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would want to do so.


RETIREMENT:

THE GRANDPAcking ACID TESTCan a retired couple with no assets live easily, comfortably, and happily here with their only source of income being a standard NZ Married Couple’s State Pension? YES.

But, I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would want to do so.


CONCLUSION:

Saraguro is cold and boring … avoid it.

TTFN


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