|Travel Ecuador : Cities : Vilcabamba|
Tucked into the Southern Ecuadorian Andes, Vilcabamba is south of Loja, and pretty close to the border between Ecuador and Peru. It is a common stop-off point for travelers on the way to, or from Peru. Vilcabamba is a relaxing place to stay for a few days, and is known as the “Valley of Eternal Youth”. Perhaps due to the tranquil way of life, local residents are thought to regularly live beyond 100 years of age. Vilcabamba is becoming ever-more popular with travelers, and those looking to retire. Real estate agents have sprung up in the main square and this small town is home to foreigners from all over the world.
Vilcabamba is a good place for hiking, horseback riding, yoga and general relaxation. A number of operators in the main square offer horseback riding for tourists, and trips last for a few hours up to a couple of days. Some horseback riding and hiking trips visit the beautiful Podocarpus National Park which is located between Vilcabamba and Loja, to the north. There are numerous interesting and varied hikes to be had in the area, and hotel owners can often provide details of these. For the less active, yoga, massages and other luxury treatments are widely available in town and in many cases, at the accommodations.
A relative newby on the “gringo-trail,” Vilcabamba has a fairly decent variety of amenities for the traveler to the town. Some are located in the main area of the town, and others are dispersed in the surrounding countryside.
Vilcabamba offers a variety of different accommodation options, mainly on the budget to mid-range end, with a few notable high-end options too. A few of the cheaper Vilcabamba hotels and hostels can be found close to the main square. Many Vilcabamba accommodations can be found located outside of the town itself in the surrounding hills and valleys. When looking for Vilcabamba hotels, look for places that have a spa onsite, if you want to indulge in luxury treatments. Some places have swimming pools, even those for lower-end budgets. Many Vilcabamba hotels and hostels are owned by foreigners.
Vilcabamba has a small smattering of restaurants in the area of the main plaza. In Vilcabamba restaurants you can find both local food and international options, such as pizza, pasta and Mexican food. Because many of the accommodations are outside of the town, travelers will tend to eat in their hotels or hostels at night and for breakfast.
Visitors to Vilcabamba do not generally go for the nightlife. A sleepy town, Vilcabamba has little to offer those who want to party all night. There are one or two small club/bar options in the main area of town.
Vilcabamba is very far from Quito. It is possible to get from Quito to Vilcabamba via bus, but it takes in excess of 18 hours. A better option for those with a little extra money, is to fly from Quito to Loja. This takes approximately 45 minutes. The Loja airport is a good forty minutes or so outside of Loja, so from there it is necessary to get a taxi to the bus station and take a bus to Vilcabamba, or to take a taxi all the way to Vilcabamba, which can be expensive.
Those visiting Vilcabamba will generally find this tiny town to be pretty safe. Recently there have been some reports of robberies on popular hiking routes. Travelers should try to hike in groups and take nothing of value with them on hikes, to safeguard themselves from this risk.
Organic farm in Vilcabamba welcomes tourists on volunteers.