A Visit to the Valley of Longevity

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May 7th 2009
Published: May 26th 2009
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Day 763 (02.05.09)

We woke feeling much more able to take the onward bus to Vilcabamba after a good night's sleep we first had a walk around town in Loja (not an awful lot to see there) before jumping on the bus. The valley that the town sits in is well known in the county as the Valley of Longevity as the people who live here just dont seem to kick the bucket. As we passed through the lush tranquil rolling hills on our way there we got our first taste of why people stick around here for a bit longer.

Arriving in town we stopped off for a quick lunch before getting a taxi the last couple of KM out to Izhcayluma our home for the next couple of days. Our first impression was great with a superb restaurant perched on the hillside overlooking the town, beautiful rooms, a pool and plenty of hammocks. As we checked in we were shown around and told that they also had a spa and massage facility on site as well - result!

Spending the rest of the afternoon in the pool and the hammocks and generally lazing around we finished by popping into town for a bit of time catching up on e-mails and dinner before falling into bed.

Day 764 (03.05.09)

After our previous day's laziness, we pulled on our now very worn-out walking boots and chose one of the local walking trails to tackle. The hostel has a well-set up system of maps, signs and routes to choose from and we popped for one called the Izhcayluma Trail which was a 5hr loop with views of three valleys in the area.

Starting off on the trail we were soon walking up a muddy creek with fallen bushes and trees providing fun climbing and scrambling frames dotting our route. Past the creek and a dirt road steadlily (well relentlessly) climbed up the valley giving us a good work out in the morning heat. Past some local farmsteads we climbed until crossing the tarmacked road where the trail soon opened up to a ridge. Chrissie, not being a big fan of walking narrow paths with very steep drops (is anyone?), was a little tentative about the first extremely narrow section of ridge but after weighing it up for a while braved the first dodgy bit of path and continued on along the ridge where the rest of the past proved to be much wider.

The views were stunning. From the ridge we could see back to Vilcabamba as well over to another amazing river valley.

Dropping back into the valley we reached a riverbed where we stopped to drink the fresh spring water coming straight off the mountain - mmmmm.

Following the stream down the mostly rocky riverbed we crossed the small river about 1000 times climbing more fallen trees and fences until we once again reached the road back to the hostel. It was a great walk and after we had showered and changed needed a nice relaxing afternoon to rest our weary legs.

Day 765 (04.05.09)

Today was a day for relaxation. Starting with some reading and a movie we upgraded our relaxation to a massage in the spa. It was excellent!

Now feeling utterly relaxed we had an early dinner before we went into town for a bus - from our relaxed state we were now on a rollercoaster overnight bus ride from Vilcabamba via Loja to Peru. Since we'd been travelling in relatively little Ecuador it had been a while since our last overnighter but it wasn't too bad. Aside from the border crossing at around 4am we slept fairly well.

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Narrow path behind Chrissie...scary!!!

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