We took a shuttle from Cuena to Vilcabamba Ecuador … a four and a half hour trip from Hostel La Cigale to Hosteria Izhcayluma. It was more expensive than the bus but the journey is about two hours shorter and is door to door.
Like much of central and south America the roads wind up and down mountainous terrain and in many patches in need of major repairs.
Izhcayluma means “two hills” in the old Inka language and is the original name of the area. The hostel is situated about 2 km out of the town with a variety of accommodation and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and supper. It is situated on a large property and offers a variety of yoga classes, a pool, a lively bar and many hikes ranging from easy to "worst".
We arrived on Mother's Day and the bar was serving complimentary Pink Ladies to all mothers, or mothers to be … that is … any female!
The weather was mild - overcast and rainy - and much warmer than the chilly Cuenca. Vilcabamba known as the Valley of Longevity is beautiful and surrounded by mountains.
On our first day we walked down to town. Wandered around the local farmers market and bought peanuts and some interesting cakes. We also bought our bus tickets for our trip to Piura in Peru – the start of Peru part two.
As we walked through a quiet town we came across the expected American expats many who have made Vilcabamba their home because "we don't have to speak Spanish "!!
We wandered back up the hill and walked around the property, stopped for a short chat with an old gent German Canadian accompanying a young Siberian woman through the tranquil paths. He’d lived in Vilcabamba for 9 years and explained that “it is close to heaven”.
Vilcabamba Ecuador is a renowned retirement destination. People are attracted by the enchanting small town, the healthy and cheap food and the prospect of healthy and active longevity. It however has one unforgettable downside … no-see-ums!
P.S. To get the bus to Peru we had to take a taxi to Loja. Although we just passed through this looked an interesting town. An attractive destination worth spending more time in and evaluating further.