The Vilcabamba canton (The name in Quichua means Sacred Valley), is one of the most beautiful towns in Ecuador thanks to its topography, surrounding mountains, and the kindness of its inhabitants. It is located in the southern Andean region in the province of Loja, just 45 km from its capital, the city of Loja.
The best season to visit Vilcabamba is during the months of June to September, which is the sunny dry season. It has a subtropical climate with an average temperature between 60ºF and 75º C. Vilcabamba has two well-marked seasons: the dry and the wet season. The wet season begins in October and ends in May, while the dry season runs from June to September.
Vilcabamba has a great biodiversity and several walking trails through various cloud forests and the Páramo, where you will find abundant vegetation, wildlife and waterfalls.
An interesting fact is that Vilcabamba is known as the “Valley of Longevity”, since many of its elderly inhabitants are over 100 years old. They say this occurs due to the mineral properties found in the local water supply.
How long should I spend in Vilcabamba?
Vilcabamba has a lot to offer but we believe that a day or two is enough to explore the best things to do Vilcabamba. You can spend a whole week if you want to relax, try the range of restaurants or enjoy all the hiking trails.
The best things to do in Vilcabamba this weekend:
Vilcabamba Center and Central Park
Downtown Vilcabamba will steal your heart with its beautiful cobblestone streets, colorful houses and buildings that surround the central park and its relaxed atmosphere. Around the Central Park you will find restaurants with different gastronomic options and shops where you can buy souvenirs or anything you need. Do not forget to visit the beautiful church.
The Cerro de Mandango is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Vilcabamba. You can get to the hill and go hiking, horseback riding and enjoy an astounding view of the valley and Vilcabamba.
The Mandango Trail takes about four hours as you wind around two mountain peaks with incredible views of the surrounding valleys in Vilcabamba. One of the mountains is called “The Sleeping Inca”, since it looks like a face lying down.
Yamburara recreation area
In this recreation area you can learn about the local animals and enjoy the greenhouse that displays a wide variety of orchids from the area.
Visit Podocarpus National Park
The Podocarpus National Park is one of the most diverse national parks in the world, and just a few kilometers away from Vilcabamba. The park offers several trails through its forest with incredible panoramic landscapes of the mountains and valleys that surround it.
River walk to Rumi Wilco
This trail to Rumi Wilco takes you along the river through bamboo forests and landscapes that will take your breath away. Rumi Wilco covers 40 hectares to explore in an environment marked by biodiversity and its proximity to the town, making it even more valuable in the face of the urban growth that surrounds it. If you love bird watching, this place is for you, as more than 140 species of birds have been identified in this small protective forest.
How to get to Vilcabamba?
- From Loja: You can take a bus from the city of Loja, which leaves every hour and costs $1 per person.
- From Cuenca: You can take a bus from the Cuenca bus terminal that stops in Vilcabamba on the way to the city of Loja. This trip can take more than 5 hours and tickets cost $8. We recommend you take the following cooperatives: Cooperativa Loja, Viajeros, San Luis.
What to eat in Vilcabamba?
- Pea soup with banana
- Pork jerky
- Chicken stew
- Dry goat
- Creole chicken broth
- Pork leather with potato
- Honey with cheese
- Filtered coffee
How to get around Vilcabamba?
Vilcabamba, being a very small town, can be explored on foot, although to go to the most popular trails you will have to take a taxi or rent a bicycle.