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Published: July 24th 2019
Vilcabamba was strangely empty in mid-July. It felt like the whole town - the hostels, taxis, and even the trails - were waiting for more tourists to show to enjoy the dry season while other parts of the country were cold and wet. After reading about its growing popularity in old guide books and websites, I expected it to be peaking by 2019, but people I asked said that tourism has abated and land prices are actually dropping.
That was fine by me, since we felt like we had the area to ourselves. Other than hiking the impressive and varied series of trails, most of which are strung together to include dirt roads and drainage ditches, there wasn't much else to do but try out the few restaurants that were actually open and watch the expats in the town square - a strange blend of hippies drawn there by psychedelic cacti, and retirees, who probably wouldn't admit they came to drink from the proverbial fountain of youth the town is known for.
Hostería Izhcayluma is quite the operation (Germans) and was the perfect base for us. It caters to budget travellers with its dorms, free yoga, and cheap transport
I first noticed the man in black from a distance and kept looking back to see if he was following us. He was running and eventually caught up to us. It turned out that he was an old man with one eye and very few teeth, and he just wanted to tell us the names of the towns and hills. I should have asked for a better picture with him.
to and from Cuenca, but also has private cabins, a full spa ($22 for a 75-minute massage!), and beautifully manicured grounds. They provide trail maps and have posted most of the blazes and trail signs in the area.
The ridges are very narrow, which makes the montañitas striking, but some of the trails were too sketchy for me, especially with the gusty winds.
The photos tell the rest of the story - there are a few more below.
Tot: 3.081s; Tpl: 0.054s; cc: 15; qc: 72; dbt: 0.0548s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
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