Vilcabamba is just a little village set around a pleasant square but it has a great climate; rain to maintain the lush green vegetation and plenty of sunshine to generate smiles. At 1580m neither the altitude or humidity will bother you. Many of the hostels in or just outside the villages have grounds or a garden with a swimming pool, hammocks, games and delicious breakfasts. If you can venture out of the hostel you can walk around the area, enjoying the views, swimming in rivers or waterfalls, take a canopy tour or go horse riding up towards Podocarpus National Park. After all that hard work you can take your choice where to enjoy a massage.
Where to Stay
There are many lovely places to stay. In the village you can choose from Jardin Escondido (see Place I have stayed), Hostal Mandango and others. A little outside you can find Madre Tierra, on the Loja road, Izhcayluma, 2km south on the Zumba road and the Runi-Wilco Ecolodge.
A little east of town, on a track leading uphill is Cabañas Rio Yambala (see Place I have stayed) which is a beautiful, relaxing place to stay next to a river with a sauna and many hiking opportunities available including up to the owners’ lodge at Las Palmas on the continental divide.
Click here to find out Where to Stay in Vilcabamba.
Where to Eat
Some of the hostels offer all-inclusive packages and serve good, healthy food. Alternatively there are a few cheap lunch eateries in the village and some other restaurants catering for foreign tastes. If you fancy snakes’ blood or frogs’ legs, head uphill to Shanta’s Bar.
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The village name comes means sacred valley in Quechua and the Incas reserved it for nobles. The vilca- part comes from the wilco tree which has medicinal properties.
The area became famous for longevity after a US doctor visited in 1950 and then wrote an article for Readers Digest. Many scientists have subsequently attempted to identify why residents live so long here. They have speculated that it is due to the weather, the mineral-rich water, a diet low in fat high in fibre and magnesium, a physical lifestyle or maybe just the peaceful ambience.
Buses, mini-vans and shared taxis all make the journey to and from Loja (1-1½ hrs). You can also catch the bus from Loja which continues south to Zumba.