Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vilcabamba, Ecuador - The Town of Very Old People



Vilcabamba, in the valley of Podocapus National Park, is just south of Loja, in the southeastern province of Loja. It has two seasons: wet and dry, and although I was there in December it was still dry and extremely hot. The valley is famed for the longevity of its local people and it's rumored that many folks have lived to be over 100 years of age, with the oldest up to 135 years. Some of the oldest inhabitants of the world live here, attributed to the peaceful nature of the environment. For this reason, it's been labeled the Valley of Longevity.

There's an ex-pat community here from America and Europe operating restaurants, tours, hostels, horse-back riding tours and offering aromatherapy and massage. There are also a few shamans who can give you a "tour" using the San Pedro cactus; however, the place is losing its charm as word gets out about Vilcabamba.
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It's a slow-moving, ramshackle town, a place where things don't get done in a hurry. It reminded me of Quepos, Costa Rica, one of my favorite places.

Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
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The back of somebody's house.

Vilcabamba Ecuador
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Some interesting front doors.

Vilcabamba EcuadorVilcabamba Ecuador
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The amazing countryside around Vilcabamba.

Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador

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So many exotic flowers! All these shots were taken at the Las Ruinas de Quinara.

Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador

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Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
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Vilcabamba EcuadorVilcabamba Ecuador
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The Madre Tierra (top two pictures). It had a beautiful spa and everywhere you walked there was something to see, or somewhere peaceful to sit.

When I first arrived I stayed at the Izhcayluma Hosteria (bottom two pictures). It wasn't that expensive, and it had a spectacular view of the countryside, particularly El Mandango, the rockface that you see on the bottom right. There's a path you can follow that winds its way to the top. I was going to climb to the top of it with two friends, but I grew tired after looking at the first 50 feet and with 3,000 more to go, I quit. It was just too hot.

Vilcabamba EcuadorVilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
Vilcabamba Ecuador
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Vilcabamba Ecuador

I guess this guy was one of the old-timers. I wondered how old he was, as well as the dog that never moved lying on the road.