Monday, March 26, 2012

Vilcabamba and Izhcayluma


After a year of curiosity, we finally enjoyed our trip to Vilcabamba.

Joined by our friends Lawrence and Ed, we boarded the 9:30am EliteTours van for the three hour non stop to Loja. The $12 ticket was a bargain! Elite Tours (R.Crespo y Santa Cruz)  was recommended by Hoseria Izhcayluma. We were efficiently delivered just inside the "Castle " gates of Loja.

Just around the corner, toward the gates, we discovered the Continental Hotel and enjoyed a pleasant lunch from an extensive menu. Now, for the $20 taxi down hill to Vilcabamba.

Sunshine welcomed us to the beautiful valley and town square. Yes, we saw a few picturesque farms, villas, and charming octogenerians. By the fabled centigenerians were missing. More recent posts indicate the oldest resident is a mere 96 and the average age in the valley is mid eighties. The myth and charm of this valley attracted many backpackers and hippies a generation ago. Now the culture of this beautiful pueblo appears slanted a bit toward alternative lifestyled Gringo.

We snagged a reluctant four door white pickup taxi for the brief dusty construction-choked ride up to the backpacker resort. The sweeping views over the patchwork valley hinted of the farming in forgotten times. Double rainbows at sunset drew us up the hill for placid photos.  Ahhh...

Izhcayluma's open air restaurant was a joyful slow-motion respite. Their German entres were excellent, while some selections were routine. Generous breakfasts included juice, fruit, cereal, breads with jams and choice of eggs or crepes. Our cabana was comfortable and the porch hammock drew me to an afternoon siesta.Enticing descriptions and photos may be found at

Oh, the sunshine and warmer temperatures at five thousand foot elevation were a breather from rainy season in Cuenca, but the bugs were waiting. They too enjoyed their meals as the sun set over the valley and we dallyed over dessert. We forgot our Deet spray.

The town may be toured in an hour or two, but the Mexican "Secret Garden" restaurant is a must. Amazing burritos! Around the corner, downhill from the square, is a surprisingly delicious eight dollar buffet at La Roca. Don't miss it.

Ed managed a two hour challenging horse ride from town. We all enjoyed a custom two hour farming tour through the valley with our driver Rafael.

It was an obstacle course in a couple of spots. Ecuador is concreting the road all the way to Peru! Probably for the large copper mining industry.

Relocation to Vilcabamba remains doubtful, yet a visit is irresistable. Ecuador is  a gorgeous country!