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Hosteria Izhcayluma Vilcabamba, Ecuador: The Perfect Escape

Almost at the border of Peru lies a wonderful region known as the Valley of Longevity: Vilcabamba, Ecuador.

During a stay in Cuenca and looking for a short weekend getaway, just a quick respite from the city, I stumbled on Vilcabamba and couldn’t resist visiting a place holding such a mystical title. Who wouldn’t be attracted by such a claim?

As an added plus, the place was said to highlight amazing birds and wildlife all in a beautiful natural setting. Also known as the Valley of Immortals, the region is accessible via a few hours of transit, making Vilcabamba an ideal city getaway. A total of 3 nights in the valley of Vilcabamba, Ecuador at the Hosteria Izhcayluma is the ideal and perfect location for a weekend’s escape, great for those looking for serenity and relaxation.

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Insider Tip: Are your belongings adequately protected during your travels? I love my Pacsafe Venture II backpack and won’t travel without it. The bag literally acts as a “safe” when locked and tied up to a secure object in our accommodation. 

HOSTERIA IZHCAYLUMA: A PERFECT ESCAPE FROM CUENCA

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By reading on, you’ll quickly understand why this hosteria in Vilcabamba’s Valley of Longevity is a perfect place for a getaway.

This isn’t a sponsored article by the property but I enjoyed our stay so much that I had to share this amazing discovery with you.

The site is a real oasis, a unique and special place, the type of place that once you’re there you don’t want to leave. The hostel, owned and operated by Europeans for over a decade, is simply paradisiac. It’s conveniently located close to the village of Vilcabamba, accessible by a short 15-minute walk or local cab ride.

Vilcabamba, Ecuador

The charm of Vilcabamba resides in what it doesn’t have or offer. You’ll be quickly bewitched by its simplicity, its slower lifestyle and its calm and serene environment, all at reasonable, low rates. You won’t find restaurant chains, Starbucks or big supermarkets here. But rather, a ton of pedestrian trails, stunning vistas and wellness and yoga centers.

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Photo Credit ~ Hosteria Izhcayluma

Vilcabamba, meaning Sacred Valley, is an ideal place to be in communion with nature and oneself. Recognized for its pleasant climate and Zen-type atmosphere, it truly offers calm and tranquility for travellers seeking to take a break. 

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Just 40 km south of Loja, the village of Vilcabamba is increasingly becoming popular with foreigners and expats while still keeping true to its origins and maintaining its authenticity. Certainly, many cultural elements that were brought here by the foreign residents, help make this small village a unique and special place. A mix of jungle and rain forest, Vilcabamba is a refuge to urban distractions with the essentials and comforts to provide a truly relaxing experience.

But there isn’t solely relaxation on the menu. You can also go hiking or horseback riding, mountain biking, bird watching or explore the lakes, rivers and waterfalls of Podocarpus Park. 

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The Valley of Longevity

The valley became famous in the 1960s when researchers noticed that the life expectancy of the village was oddly above average, residents often living around or above 100 years old. This is attributed to the way of life in the region, the quality of the water coming directly from the mountains combined with the mild climate. Obviously, the lack of stress must certainly help!

The Best Choice: Hosteria Izhcayluma

When I was looking for a place to escape the city, Hosteria Izcayluma’s venue seemed the ideal place in Vilcabamba. Great reviews and affordable rates are always welcomed attributes but what sold us on this place was the splendid views of the valley and the landscaped gardens overflowing with lush vegetation.

This small hotel is an outstanding site for a relaxing stay, a perfect getaway from Cuenca. In addition, for $ 15 pp. the hosteria offers a shuttle bus leaving the hostel La Cigale every day at 1:30 pm. Easy peasy!

To reserve DAILY SHUTTLE DIRECTLY FROM CUENCA TO IZHCAYLUMA 

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The site has a beautiful, well-maintained pool offering breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains. Also on site are a superb wellness center, a Yoga Shala and a small lounge bar with a pool table and ping-pong tables as well.

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The quaint room featured a private bathroom, which was very clean.  The comfortable room had a small terrace with its own table, chairs and a hammock to enjoy the glorious scenery facing it. All of this, at the modest rate of $38 USD per night for 2! 

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view from the patio

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A little bit tucked away from the main building are private cabanas, some with a living area and multiples bed options. There are dormitories and rooms with shared bathrooms also available. Check the prices here.

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Observation deck perfect for bird watching – you can see the Shala in the distance

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Yoga Shala

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Photo credit ~ Hosteria Izhcayluma

Different daily yoga classes are available with a variety of teachers depending on style and level. The Shala is accessed via a beautiful wooded pathway, ideal to prepare your mind and body for a proper yoga session. The yoga studio is completely open to nature with unbelievable views of the mountains. The biggest challenge is to be able to concentrate while the tropical birds are chirping and fluttering around the valley. Incredibly, the yoga classes are free of charge for guests with accommodations. 

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Pathway leading to the Yoga Shala

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View from the Yoga Shala

Wellness Center

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Photo credit ~ Hosteria Izhcayluma

In a separate building from the main hotel, the wellness center provides several types of treatments and massages as well as manicures and pedicures. The place is well furnished with lots of plants and foliage, you start relaxing as soon as you step in.

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There are some change rooms with showers available, all in a clean and natural environment, well on par with North American standards. A complete massage will cost you a mere $22 for 75 minutes, making it hard to resist… I surely couldn’t.  I received an amazing massage, which was a welcome treat after my many yoga sessions.

Dining Options

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The inn’s kitchen is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the expectation of being closed for lunch on Mondays. We can attest to delicious vegetarian and Bavarian options. You can also enjoy organic coffee from their coffee plantation and fresh fruit juices. Prices are low with breakfast starting at around $ 4 pp. View their menu here 

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In addition, the dining room offers a spectacular and panoramic view of the sacred valley making all of your meals, memorable moments. You’ll want to take your time and enjoy every bite in this blissful environment, taking in all of its beauty.

One could settle here for a week without ever leaving the place. But if you’re inclined to do so, there are other dining options in the village of Vilcabamba. Several small restaurants are available to choose from, with vegetarian, Mexican and other food options. I particularly enjoyed meals at Midas Touch and Lion’s Bear which I heard is in the process of being sold.

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Activities

The lodge has a fun little bar where you can mingle with the other guests or play a game of billiards. I met some great folks from all slices of life, kindred spirits looking to get away from it all. Also available are ping pong tables, a dart board and a giant chess game.

Many hiking trails, from moderate to expert level leave directly from the hosteria. Ask for the local trail map at reception where you can also book horseback riding excursions. Unfortunately, our ride was cancelled due to rain making the trail too muddy and therefore unsafe. If you’re into hiking, you’ll want to book a local guide to explore the depths of Podocarpus national park, which is easily accessible from Vilcabamba.

Podocarpus National Park

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A gigantic national park, Pocodarpus National Park covers over 1462.80 km2 and fills in the triangle between Loja, Zamora and Vilcabamba plus a huge swath to the southeast. In it, you’ll find the majestic Mandango Mountain, also known as the Sleeping Inca. Legend has it that it protects the area from earthquakes and other types of natural disasters.

Because of its many differences in altitude, ranging from 900 m to 3600 m, the park holds one of the greatest diversities of plants and animal species in the world. It’s estimated that 40% of its 3000 plant species are found nowhere else on the planet and that more than 600 species of birds are found in it. A few rare mammals such as pumas, tapirs, bears and foxes also reside there.

It can be reached from the villages of Vilcabamba and Zamora. The park is renowned for its great trails with lakes and waterfalls.

Other accommodation options in Vilcabamba, Ecuador:  We met several travellers recommending Madre Tierra, another beautiful lodging option in town. Its restaurant also has a solid reputation for good-quality meals with great views.

Vilcabamba is too often an ignored destination for travellers visiting Ecuador.

I strongly recommend that you do include it in your plans, especially if you’re already making it to Cuenca – get the top things to do in Cuenca here. You’ll get an authentic feel of the Ecuadorian lifestyle, get an eyeful of outstanding vistas and come back rejuvenated. Don’t be surprised if you start looking at ways to relocate and settle here, many visitors have.

The Valley of Longevity holds that spell over me, go and witness it for yourself.

Have you been to Vilcabamba, Ecuador?
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…

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Marquestra Hosteria Izhcayluma Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Marquestra Hosteria Izhcayluma Vilcabamba, Ecuador