Sunday, April 28, 2013


While I was in Montanita, I met an English girl who was living here and asked her where her favourite place in Ecuador is. She said Vilcabamba. So I went there after Cuenca. This was a bit out of my way since I hadn’t planned to go south. The 3.5 hour ride to Loja was quite picturesque. You go through the mountains and are literally driving through clouds in some parts. And no travel sickness for me this time thanks to my $1 drugs.

I arrived in Loja, which looks kinda dodgy and boring and had to get to the bus station. The guys in the shuttle tried to pressure me into paying them $20 to take me to Vilcabamba. No. Cuenca to Loja only cost $12 and that journey was heaps longer. So I jumped in a taxi to the bus station then got a bus, which cost $1.

Main square in Vilcabamba:

I stayed at the Izhcayluma hostel, which is awesome. Then again, it’s run by Germans, so you’d expect it to be good. No surprise really, where there are mountains, there are Germans! 

Here's one now:

Obviously I knew no one and my dorm room was fully of German speakers. So naturally I wandered up to the bar to make friends with the boozers, who were mostly American and English, or Dutch staff. It appears the Germans are not that into drinking since they have to get up early each day to walk up mountains. 

So, on the first day, I joined some women to do one of the walks for a couple of hours. It was pretty amazing scenery, but walking up mountains is really hard, especially when you have to walk through creeks and mud and shit (not literally shit).

Therefore, this was the one and the only walk I did. The (German speaking) Swiss women on the other hand, did all the walks in the time I was there. Instead of doing difficult walks, I chose the easier option of going into town, having massages, lying by the pool, and watching some English guys play Marco Polo while trying to avoid the dog which kept jumping in and fucking up their game. Good times.

Interestingly (not really), there was a German dude in my dorm who never did anything. He didn’t even go to the pool or bar. He just lay in the hammock outside out room, until his laptop or kindle needed recharging, in which case, he’d lie on his bed so he could plug them in. But then some Aussie chicks from Perth and a German girl I met in Montanita turned up, and he started coming to the restaurant for dinner with them. Hmm…

I love the plants in the Andes, even though I’m pretty sure this first one is a weed!

On my one and only mountain walk, we walked past some organic garden place so we went inside for look. I ate some of their greens (like basil). I couldn’t help it, they looked yum. And I was right.

The food at Izhcayluma was really good. And check out this view from the restaurant at breakfast!

I think you can also watch the sunset here in the afternoon. Sunsets, whatever. Maybe I can hold hands with someone too. Ha!

So, back to the restaurant food. There is a good veggie menu but I also like that there are a bunch of meat dishes where the meat can be substituted for tempeh that is made by some dude in the town. Good thinking Germans.

In other food news, the Vilcabamba Juice Factory is awesome and does a lot more than just juice. They have loads of raw vegan foods and did a magic green smoothie. I ended up spending a lot of money on food here.

So, Vilcabamba was very cool. I liked it a lot and would have stayed longer if I hadn’t booked more Spanish lessons in Banos next week. I highly, highly recommend going here.

Julian Assange's new home?

Pros: beautiful scenery, awesome Juice Factory, very touristy so you can get by speaking English or German.

Cons: pain in the arse to get to unless you are heading to/from Peru, full of tourists and expats, expats buying up all the land are inflating prices which is pissing off the locals (unless they got the money).