Loja & Vilcabamba & Saraguro

The southernmost province of the Ecuadorian Andes (Loja), is brimming with natural and cultural wonders. This tour manages to combine them all by taking you to visit Saraguro, the subtropical valley of Vilcambaba (known as the Valley of Eternal Youth), the remarkable Podocarpus National Park and the city of Loja.


Description

This three day tour of the province of Loja starts with a visit to Saraguro, home to a unique indigenous group who maintains many of its original traditions and ways of life. The journey continues to the warm subtropical valley of Vilcabamba, famed for the longevity of its people, which has become a hotspot for relaxation due to its laid back atmosphere, natural scenery, spa facilities, tropical climate, mineral-rich water and clean air.
 
After a day in Vilcabamba exploring the area and relaxing, you will be taken to visit Podocarpus National Park to hike through the cloud forest area of Cajanuma, a bird-watcher’s paradise. This tour of the Ecuadorian southern Andes will end with a visit to the city of Loja founded in 1548 and known as the Music Capital of Ecuador, before heading back to Cuenca.
 
Travellers are given the option of being dropped off at the airport in Loja or even extending the tour to four days, in order to include a visit to Zamora and the jungle part of Podocarpus National Park known as Bombuscaro.
 

This tour includes

· A bilingual (English/Spanish) guide
· Private transportation
· Meals mentioned in the itinerary
· 2 nights accommodation in Vilcabamba (Madre Tierra or similar)
· All entrance fees
 

This tour does not include

· Travel insurance
· Tips and gratuities
· Personal expenses
· Any other service not mentioned herein
 

Packing tips

· Good walking shoes
· Fast-drying comfortable clothing
· Rain jacket
· Warm sweatshirt for cool nights
· Swimming clothes
· Sun cream
· Binoculars

Sample itinerary

Day 1 - Cuenca - Saraguro - Vilcabamba
Visit Saraguro, home to a unique indigenous group who maintains many of its traditions and ways of life. Continue on to Vilcabamba for the night. Meals included: -/L/-
Day 2 - Vilcabamba & Surroundings
Spend the day exploring the area and relaxing in Vilcabamba. Meals included: B/L/-
Day 3 - Podocarpus National Park - Loja - Cuenca
Travel to the cloud forest area of Cajanuma for hiking and bird-watching. Visit city of Loja. Return to Cuenca. Meals included: B/L/-

Highlights

Loja
Founded in 1548 this remote provincial capital in the south of the Ecuadorian Andes has historically placed an emphasis on learning and culture and boasts two universities, a law school and a major music conservatory. At 2100m above sea level it is noticeably warmer than other cities in the sierra.
Podocarpus National Park
Covering almost 1500 km2, this national park has a wide range of endemic species due to its location in the meeting point of four ecological systems: Northern Andes, Southern Andes, Amazonian and Pacific ecosystems. Named the Botanical Garden of America, there is a vast range of flora with more than 4000 species such as the romerillo tree, the cinchona and many orchids. Almost 70 mammals have been records including the mountain tapir, spectacled bear, northern pudu and jaguar. The area is ideal for hiking.
Saraguro
Saraguro (“land of corn” in Quichua) is a small agricultural town about 140km south of Cuenca which is home to the Saraguro indigenous people known for their distinctive clothing (men wear black ponchos, black knee-length shorts and black wellington boots for farm work while women wear pleated black skirts and hand-woven black shawls fastened by elaborate silver or nickel brooches), pure form of the Quichua language and their elaborate celebration of religious festivals. The indigenous peoples of Saraguro live as cattle herders and were relocated to southern Ecuador by the Incas during their expansion into the area from Bolivia. Sunday is the highpoint of the town when indigenous peoples in the area come to the morning market and mass.
Vilcabamba
Located 40km south of Loja travelers will find the beautiful subtropical valley of Vilcabamba which is renowned for the longevity of its people. Some scientists claim this phenomenon is due to the clean air; others say it is the perfect balance of minerals in the water. There is a pleasant climate and relaxed atmosphere ideal for hiking, relaxing or enjoying spa facilities.

Rates

# passengers Price (per person)
2 $456
3 $360
4-5 $388
6-7 $387
8-9 $282
10-15 $256
16-25 $227
26+ $223
Single supplement $44

 

Made-to-Measure Travel

This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of the available options for travel in Ecuador. But keep in mind:

  • We can tailor this trip to suit your needs, tastes, time frame and budget