Yunguilla is a long valley that begins just south of Cuenca and ends near the seaport city of Machala. Its elevation ranges from about 7,000 feet near Cuenca down to 4,500 feet at the Santa Isabel side (closest to Machala on the coast). At its highest point, Yunguilla is 1,500 feet lower than Cuenca, which translates to a warmer climate and very short rainy season. Since the valley is oriented east-west, it gets direct sunshine all day long.
The best locations in Yunguilla are less than an hour’s drive southwest of Cuenca (a car is a necessity in Yunguilla.) The scenery in every direction is stunning, with impossibly-green farmland surrounded by mountains, which showcase an ever-changing palette of shade and color caused by the movement of the sun and clouds.
Yunguilla offers a myriad of opportunities for nature lovers, including world-class bird watching, a network of great hiking trails, and horseback riding with local guides. Above the small town of Girón is a breathtakingly spectacular waterfall. The area is also known for a home-brewed liquor that the locals make from sugar cane. You can tour the cane farms and see the distillation process first-hand. There are also coffee, banana, orange, and papaya plantations nearby.
Rentals are scarce and rarely advertised. Finding them usually requires “knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone.” Purchase options vary from starter homes to farms to posh estates, and prices are extremely affordable.
To give you an idea of property prices, a 7.5-acre parcel of land with water, electricity, and wonderful views is currently on the market for $40,000. How about a “handyman special”? A 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom adobe home is being offered at only $45,000. It’s perched on an elevated quarter-acre lot where you can see for miles in every direction.
A charming, remodeled 1,600-square-foot home with two bedrooms and two bathrooms has three levels for enjoying the Yunguilla countryside. Asking price is $85,000.
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