tour begins in the Vilcabamba Valley (Podocarpus National
Park), 50 kilometers from the province's capital city of Loja, in
Ecuador's most Southerly province on the Peruvian border.
The valley, at 1,500 meters, lies in
hill country where the peaks generally only rise to 3,500 meters. In place
of snowcapped mountains, the area offers lush vegetation and a mild, warm
climate as well as a highly varied animal population. The sights, sounds
and aromas in this highland environment equate to those of the teeming
jungle but without the humidity.
Besides its untouched natural beauty,
the Vilcabamba Valley is known in the scientific world for the large
number of native people who live well past the age of 100. The climate,
the total absence of industry and the clearest, purest water in South
America all contribute to this longevity.
Day 1. A morning flight to the
city of Loja. Our 2 ½ hour bus trip to the valley of Vilcabamba will take
us through areas growing coffee, tea, sugar cane, papaya and passion fruit
amongst other crops. Our destination is a charming cabaña resort, North
of the community of Vilcabamba, where we will receive a warm welcome and
brunch. The afternoon will be devoted to local excursions and preparations
for trekking. Dinner and overnight accommodation will be provided at the
Day 2. By the time we have
eaten our breakfast, the pack animals will be loaded and ready for the
journey. We will start on a Southeasterly uphill course at the beginning
of a strenuous day to reach our first campsite located between Cerro Los
Helechos (3,175 m) and Cerro Cresta de Gallo (3,658 m). Participants will
be grateful for the rest while our staff set up the campsite and prepare
dinner (on our trek, box-lunches will be available at midday).
Day 3. In contrast to
yesterday, today's trek is downhill to the village of Samanamaca (1.700m)
on the western slope of the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes. This region
is known for its abundance of orchids, exotic birds and beautiful
butterflies, making a lasting impression on the trekker. Our campsite will
be near the river which parallels our afternoon course.
Day 4. After another hearty
breakfast, we begin a Northwesterly trek to the hamlet of Samyco and the
nearby Incan ruins of Quinara. Later we continue Northward with the
uniquely-shaped Cerro Mandango (approx. 2,000 m) guiding our travel. It is
in this mountain, according to local natives, that the Incas buried a
great treasure when they were fleeing the Spaniards almost 500 years ago.
In the late afternoon, we will reach the hamlet of Tumianuma and select a
Day 5. Today our trek turns
Northeast, to complete the circle which will return to the cabaña resort.
En route we pass Cerro Mandango and might be able to climb to its peak for
a view of the entire Vilcabamba Valley. The comforts of the hotel will
undoubtedly be appreciated, as will the recollections of the great natural
beauty we have trekked through for the past four days.
Day 6. Because of the one
flight per day schedule to and from Loja, it will be necessary to board
our bus for Loja airport at about 4 am. We return to the capital, Quito in
time for breakfast (not included).
Note: This tour can also be
offered as a horseback-riding trip. Please contact us for more