The Valley of the immortals

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ecuador  , Loja,
Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vilcabamba, aka the valley of the immortals, was a place that struck us first with its immediate beauty. The small town of approximately 4,000 people is famous for having an unusual amount of people live to be over 100 years old. It is said this is due to the mineral rich water and the clean mountain air. Vilcabamba fast became a place we liked very much with its warm climate and abundant vegatation.

We stayed in a hostel in the hills above town. From our hostel we had access to many walking routes into the surrounding hills and mountains and the hostel had great views across the mountains. As well, it had its own pool and hammocks for every room. It was like staying in a resort at backpackers prices, another reason why we fell in love with this place. Each morning we woke up to go swimming in the pool, which was freezing but gradually warmed up as we swam.
On the first day we checked in, we meet two other travelers from Bristol, Ed and his twin sister Sophie. The first english people we´ve met and they´re from our home town - small world after all!

We decided to go on a hike as the weather was good and spent about four hours exploring the hills above town surrounding our hostel. The south sierra is very different from the north, it is much warmer, so the mountains are covered in lush greenery and the countryside is dotted with farms growing bananas and all types of fruits. The walk was so peaceful, with the odd braying of a donkey or the call of a cockrel.

The next day we went to the Rumi Wilco nature reserve, just on the otherside of town. This was a small reserve set on the side of the mountain, known to have hundreds of species of birds and animals as well being a place that perserves the Wilco tree a native tree to the area.

There are self guided trails in the reserve and from the register at the entrance we could see we had it all to ourselves. For a change we let Carla take the lead along the trails and even though they are well marked she managed to get us lost and we ended up climbing percariously on a narrow slippery path on the side of a mountain. We realised that this path seemed far to dangerous and returned to the main trail with Aff safely back in the lead. The path wound its way back along the river and along the way we cooled off by dipping our feet in the crystal clear waters. Before we left we bumped into one of the owners of the reserve and spoke to him about his projects and also got to see some of the accomodation he had built in the reserve. They were woodern huts really well finished with some hidden among the trees and one nestled right next to the rivers edge. Given more time in this town we would definately stay in these huts as they looked like a great place to relax.

In the evening we met up with Ed and Sophie who had been on an all day horse riding trek, something we wanted to do the following day so we wanted to see how it went. Unfortunately for Ed, his experience was dampened when he was kicked by his sisters horse just bellow the knee. Luckly for him after an X-ray he was found to have only bruised his leg and was told to  rest up. As a result we decided to go with a different company recommended in the guide book.

The next day we woke up early to go on a half day horse riding trek; as Aff´s first time on a horse we thought this was a more sensible option, and many other people had said how much you ache after a full day! Carla was given a faster horse, but still very obedient and Aff was given (supposedly) a more tranquil horse. The route was beautiful, we were led along a mountain track to a waterfall. The horses obviously knew the way and we soon gained good control of them, in fact they were keen to trot or gallop everywhere and as we got confident we allowed them to do more of this. Galloping was so much fun and exhilerating, especially when we were going along tracks at the side of the mountain! We both enjoyed this day a lot and are keen to do more horse riding trips in the future.

When we got back to the hostel we relaxed for a few hours, as tonight we are getting the night bus to Peru.
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Stuart on

Now I do like the hat, Aff. That should be your style from now on. Get the boots to match, oh, and bring the horse back too just to complete the image.

Big D on

What a nice finish to your travels through Ecuador. Let's hope Peru has at least the same to offer, though with a different flavour, of course. Take care and I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

Vithleem on

Hello sweetie,

What an incredible place to be; ot looks amazing. We came back from New Zealand and I have to say, you'll absolutely love it!! It's an amazing country and we had a great time... Not sure if you are checking your emails but i will send you few photos. I miss you so so much!!!! waiting to read your next blog, Love you lots xxxx

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