Jima is a small charming town an hour and a half southeast of Cuenca. Seated at the foot of a steep green mountain ridge, this is the place to go if you are tired of tourist traps. With the help of a Peace Corps volunteer and the FundaciÃ³n Turistica Jima, the town has developed its own community-based tourism, so you know that the money you spend here will go directly back to the community members, not to a big company. From Jima, there are a number of trails and hikes with varying lengths and difficulty. Many of these go to the peaks of the mountains surrounding the town, where you will be rewarded with beautiful views. To cool off after a hike, try taking a dip in the clean Rio Moya.
An hour from Jima is the primary cloud forest, Bosque de Tambillo, which has hundreds of different animal species and more then 200 types of orchids. There is also a three- to four-day hike that takes you from the Sierra to the Oriente. The hike begins 22 kilometers (13.6 mi) east of Jima in the Cordillera MorirÃ© and drops 1,800 meters (5,900 ft) by the time you reach the Oriente. It is also possible to rent horses and camping gear in Jima.
Unfortunately, lodging options in Jima are meager, and hotels do not exist. There are two options for places to spend the night. One is the Hostal Chacapamba (07-241-8035/046), a two-story house with a balcony. The other option is to spend the night in a building owned by the local high school (07-241-8398): rooms with shared bathroom cost $5. All of the proceeds go towards improving the schools in town. You can also make reservations for rooms at the information center (07-241-8270).