Zaruma is a lovely town perched on a hilltop (Altitude: 1,170 mts), with steep, twisting streets and painted wooden buildings. In Zaruma is located one of the Ecuador's loveliest wooden churches.
There is a little museum showing the history of gold minig in the area. Gold mining is still a major employer here among the noticeably withe skinned, blue eyed inhabitants of direct Spanish stock. Many of the local minis bring their gold bearing rocks here to be crushed them passed through sluices to wash off the mud. It is possible to visit some of the small roadside mining operations and watch the whole process, you just need to ask!