Vilcabamba, the Valley of Longevity
As if taken from a fairy tale, Vilcabamba Ecuador is one of those magical villages in the middle of nowhere that gives you the feeling of being in another dimension, especially if you’re coming from a big metropolis.
As soon as you enter this little town, you’ll feel the mystical energy that surrounds this place and its people, some of which have been walking on this earth for more than 100 years.
The secret of longevity is in Vilcabamba
Since the 70’s Vilcabamba Ecuador has been a focal point for many scientific studies in order to find the answers to the longevity of its elders. It’s not uncommon to meet these people during their morning walks around the central plaza, or just taking a nap on the front porch of their houses.
But, what’s their secret?
The inhabitants of Vilcabamba – Ecuador claim their longevity is simply the result of having an uncomplicated lifestyle in harmony with the environment. Healthy habits, which are no longer a part of the modern world we live in, like growing their own organic food, having a healthy diet, keeping an active life, swimming in the clean waters of the river that flows near the village, breathing smoke-free pure air (surprisingly Vilcabamba less cars then any other town in Ecuador), and most importantly, drinking the water that comes directly from the tops of the ice-capped mountains.
However, in the last years, the number of tourists and expats has increased, bringing with them the “modern world” needs, changing a bit the original concept of this beautiful town.
Even more, since most of the elders of Vilcabamba don’t remember exactly how old they are – well, if you are more than 100 years, you more likely will forget your exact age, I guess – there is a new hypothesis claiming that there’s actually no such thing as longevity here, simply the mere fact that old people lose their memories.
Personally, if this hypothesis were real, how else can you explain the scientific results regarding the studies about the mountain water that surround this valley?
Scientific studies have come to the conclusion that these waters have a high concentration of magnesium and potassium, among other minerals, as well as a negative charge of its ions, which provides enough alkalinity to the water to purify the villagers’ bodies of the excess of heavy minerals. This means Vilcabambans maintain an ideal balance of minerals that serves as protection against common diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and bone problems, some people even dare to say this “sacred water” can cure depression and anxiety.
So, I dare to say that even if these people are not really long-livers, their quality of life is amazingly better than ours.
How to arrive there?
Unfortunately, being in this place has its price to pay: the location. Vilcabamba is a valley located in southern Ecuador, it is very close to the Podocarpus National Park, and the closest city is Loja.
The good thing is once in Loja you can easily catch a bus to Vilcabamba, there is a bus leaving every hour, it takes 1 and a half hours to get to Vilcabamba and it only costs you $1.50. The other option is taking a taxi from Loja, which takes around 45 minutes to get to Vilcabamba and costs about $20.00.
But how to get to Loja?
The fastest way by bus is through Cuenca (don’t forget that some of the awesome options Wanderbus has that can take you to Cuenca). There are three bus companies leaving Cuenca’s bus terminal every hour, it takes 4 hours to get to Loja and costs around $7.00.
However, if you are in Quito you can catch a flight. Flights take about an hour to get to Loja and cost around $90.00.
Why would you love this valley?
Incas wouldn’t have called this place “The Secret Valley” or “The Inca playground” for nothing. Everything in this valley makes it magical, but let’s make a list of the highlights of Vilcabamba Ecuador, shall we?
- Healthy food: Everything here, from the water you drink to the fresh fruits or the meat you eat, comes from this valley, no processed food (unless that is what you are looking for).
- Peace and quiet: Well, since Vilcabamba is far from the bigger Ecuadorian cities, the small-town feeling is in the air (except on weekends). No wonder stress and anxiety are not part of their lives.
- Friendly people: Not just the indigenous locals but the new locals (expats) — everybody smiles at you. In this town making new friends is not an issue, and if you are new with Spanish, don’t worry, people are very patient and they are always willing to speak slower if necessary.
- The landscape: There is nothing better than wandering around Vilcabamba, actually, there are a few trails for hiking or biking to the mountains and rivers. You will be fascinated by the beauty of the pristine flora and fauna you will find only a few kilometers away from downtown.
- The lodges: There are a few lodges around Vilcabamba that offer you the whole package: accommodation, healthy food, outdoor activities, spa treatments and of course, yoga and meditation. Izhcayluma and Madre Tierra are wonderful places to stay.
- The vibe: Oh yes, you can feel it as soon as you step foot on the valley, it may be the spiritual people that have made Vilcabamba their home, the local elders with their stories, the artists from every part of the world that gathered here, or maybe it’s all of them. You will see it!
Easy, affordable, and fun!
Because the beauty of a landscape can not be truly appreciated from the window of a plane.
What are the advantages of choosing Wanderbus?
- The friendliest and most professional tour guides who will answer all your questions, these guys are going to make sure you have the best bus experience ever.
- The flexibility to choose your departure dates. You just need to pick your ideal pass, and then you decide when to continue your journey onto your next destination.
- The people you will meet, not only in the bus but, everywhere Wanderbus takes you.
- The thousands of memories and pictures you will take back home.
So, grab your camera and… see you in the Wanderbus!