Vilcabamba
Cuenca | Ecuador
Cerro Mandango
Vilcabamba Birds

The Charms of Southern Ecuador

One of the most memorable experiences a traveler to Ecuador can enjoy is the warmth of its people, the southernmost cities of the country are considered to be even friendlier to visitors, considering Ecuador in general to be very welcoming. The Southern lands of Ecuador are also blessed with a slightly warmer weather and less rain, considered the best in the country, here the famous location of Vilcabamba rings in as the valley of eternal youth. This region is a jewel full of fine details that allows visitors to enjoy unique emotions that will turn into life lasting memories.
We start this program in the beautiful city of Cuenca, our guide will pick up guests early from their hotel or the airport (suggested time 8h30 am). En-route we will enjoy the amazing scenery of the Andes dotted with rural villages, cattle farms and small farmer lands. Our first stop is at the city of Saraguro, where the ethnic group of the same name will share their artisan work in rustic ceramics and colorful handwoven textiles. Lunch is included at the community run restaurant. After learning about this amazing indigenous group, we continue traveling amongst the Andes until we arrive in the colonial city of Loja. We will have a short panoramic tour of the colonial center including the colorful Lourdes street and the main plazas with their beautiful architecture. Later in the early evening we will arrive at our charming hotel in the Vilcabamba valley. Accommodation at Hotel Izhcayluma or similar (-,L-)
Today we will have an early start and will drive south into the Amazon basin, we will unveil the mystery of the first cocoa beans on the planet at the Santa AnaLa Florida archaeological site. The site houses a 5000- year-old complex where carbon 14 tests show the origin of cocoa (the bean chocolate is made of). We will then visit the small Amazon village of Palanda, here we will get a tasting of one of the country’s best coffee varieties “café lojano”, awarded as the golden cup in several contests. We will then head back towards Vilcabamba and will reach the Tapichalaca reserve, an eco-paradise, we will spend the night at a cozy cloud forest lodge. Overnight at Casa Simpson (B,L,D)
Today will be another early rise, we will be at the trailhead for our walk around 7h30 am, we will go out in search of one of the rarest species of birds on the planet, the Jocotoco Antpitta an endemic species or this beautiful region, found nowhere else on the planet. The Tapichalaca reserve has ensured the survival of the Jocotoco by protecting thousands of acres of its habitat. After spotting this amazing bird, we return to enjoy the hummingbird feeders at our lodge where dozens of these beautiful birds and many other species flutter around peacefully.

In the afternoon we will visit the malacatos valley and one of the largest sugar cane farms in the region, we will learn the process of distilling pure alcohol and will then be treated to a visit of a historic hacienda “La Trinitaria” a live museum full of historic treasures of southern Ecuador and a living sample of how life was in past years. We will end the day at our colorful hotel in the Vilcabamba valley. Overnight at Izhcayluma Hotel or similar (B,L,-)
The small village of Vilcabamba and its beautiful surroundings offer several oportunities including horseback riding, hiking or the local pass time, doing nothing at all. Your hotel also offers early morning yoga lessons in a beautiful setting with amazing scenery of the surrounding mountains. Overnight at Izhcayluma Hotel or similar (B,-,-)
From Vilcabamba we will cross the Andean valleys from the Eastern slopes to the western slopes reaching the small village of Zaruma. This town is one of Ecuador’s cultural heritages, the unique wooden architecture is both elegant yet colorful and shows the vestige of a rich past when the town’s gold mines were in full production. After visiting the cathedral and most representative streets we get the opportunity to enter an old gold mine. A delicious lunch awaits us at Buenaventura lodge, just 30 min. from Zaruma, this is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet with gardens full of hummingbirds and endemic species of parakeets, a short half hour trail will allow us to visit the lek of the rare umbrella bird. To end this amazing day full of cultural and natural attractions we will enjoy spotting an entire family of Coatis from the porch of our lodge. Overnight at Buenaventura. (B/L/D)
After breakfast we will have another opportunity to spot dozens of hummingbirds at the lodge, we will continue our route until we reach one of the region’s most representative banana and cocoa plantations, we will learn about the chocolate process and Ecuador’s main export product the plantain. For lunch we will visit Hillary resort for an Ecuadorean food sampling buffet. In the afternoon we will head either south to the border with Peru at the town of Huaquillas or north to Guayaquil depending on the rest of our travel plans. (B,L,-)
The Charms of Southern Ecuador | South America Tours
From $995.00 per person

Highlights

  • Watch birds and many other colorful species
  • Yoga lessons in a beautiful setting with amazing scenery of the surrounding mountains
  • Learn about the ecuadorian chocolate
  • Visit the colonial center including the colorful streets

Includes

  • Transportation
  • Bilingual guide
  • Accommodation
  • Meals indicated
  • Entrance Fees
  • Bottled Water

Does not Include

  • Personal expenses and tips
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Items not specified
  • Additional visits
  • Additional meals
All departures and prices are subject to availability. Please Contact Us to confirm preferred departure