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Overview

Vilcabamba is the ideal place to chill out in southern Ecuador. The town gained fame in the late 20th century as "the valley of longevity" after it was discovered that many very healthy elderly residents lived there. The San Pedro cactus that grows here also attracted hippies, but they have since been replaced by a burgeoning expat scene. This small town is also popular with backpackers making the long trip between Ecuador and Peru. The biggest draw is the scenery. Steep forested hills surrounding Vilcabamba offer opportunities for all levels of hikers, while horseback-riding is also popular. Great hikes include the peak of Cerro ...

Vilcabamba is the ideal place to chill out in southern Ecuador. The town gained fame in the late 20th century as "the valley of longevity" after it was discovered that many very healthy elderly residents lived there. The San Pedro cactus that grows here also attracted hippies, but they have since been replaced by a burgeoning expat scene. This small town is also popular with backpackers making the long trip between Ecuador and Peru. The biggest draw is the scenery. Steep forested hills surrounding Vilcabamba offer opportunities for all levels of hikers, while horseback-riding is also popular. Great hikes include the peak of Cerro Mandango and the reserve of Rumi Wilco. Tourism facilities are very good in the area. There are some excellent hotels, particularly on the outskirts. The best include Izhcayluma and Madre Tierra, which has a very good spa. There are also several top-notch restaurants — everything from German and Mexican to vegetarian. Podocarpus National Park is close to Vilcabamba, a very diverse park with terrain ranging from high Andean grasslands to dense jungle. It can be explored on excursions organized from town.

Ben Westwood
About the Expert

Ben Westwood is a former Daily Telegraph (London) travel journalist and author of several guidebooks including Moon Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands and Moon Cusco & Machu Picchu. He is also coauthor of the Rough Guide to South America.

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Ben Westwood for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Vilcabamba is a village in the southern region of Ecuador, in the Loja province. Located in a historical and scenic valley, it is a common destination for tourists, in part because it is widely believed that its inhabitants grow to a very old age.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Ecuador Sucre
  • Research: Andean Highlands (Ecuador) | Andes | Quito | Wikitravel | Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year round, but rainiest between February and April, and driest June to September.