Loja Journals

Panamas and Cactus Powder - The Ecuadorian South

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A May 2007 trip to Loja by Shady Ady

Cerro Mandango - Vilcabamba Photo, Loja, Ecuador More Photos
Quote: A day-by-day account of a week's traveling through the south of Ecuador, taking in the towns of Vilcabamba, Loja, Cuenca, and stunning scenery.
Cerro Mandango - Vilcabamba Photo, Loja, Ecuador
Quote:
A trip to the southern Ecuadorian Sierra for many should be one filled with excitement and anticipation. After just completing trips to both the Amazon and Galapagos Islands, adventures that surpassed my wildest dreams, I had a feeling that the south wouldn't be in the same league. I couldn't have been more wrong. Out of the three trips, the south I have to say was the one filled with most beauty and variety.To reach the first port of call, Vilcabamaba, a nice 15 hour bus journey was needed from the capital of Quito, through Volcano Alley where Cotopaxi, the Illiniza's, Tungurahua, and Chimborazo stood tall and proud, dominating the skyline of the crisp evening air. The sun was already rising ...Read More

Day 2 - A Failure (Vilcabamba)

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Cerro Mandango - Vilcabamba Photo, Loja, Ecuador
Quote:
Within the village of Vilcabamba, apart from the tiny zoo (Centro Recreacional Yamburara, daily 8am-5pm, $0.50), there is little to keep you occupied for more than an afternoon, unless you have some sort of strange addiction to cheap massages, found all over the village for no more than $8 an hour. Even the food, which seems to be always of a high quality, and which was perfect for my vegetarian loving girlfriend where healthy, home-grown recipes are found in all restaurants. Today saw an activity participated in, that many people come to the area for (not including the relaxed atmosphere, hallucinogenic cactus powder and the gateway to Peru), the harsh activity of hiking.Today was going to be...Read More
Local Churches - Vilcabamba Photo, Ecuador, South America
Quote:
The initial plan for today was a short one hour bus journey north to Loja. At the last minute though, upon analysing what Vilcabamba and Loja had to offer, it was decided another day in Vilcabamba was the better option. I wasn't disappointed with the decision. With the extra day in Vilcabamba, a hike into Podocarpus National Park was the day's priority, followed hopefully, time permitting by a well deserved $8 one hour massage. Considering prices for similar services in other Gringo hangouts like Quito and Baños, which average $25, you can't really complain.After an early filling fruit breakfast from the ever reliable Natural Yogurt Vilcabamba (Calle Bolivar, Parque Central) it soon became cle...Read More

Day 4 - Alcoholics Anonymous (Loja)

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Puerta de la Ciudad - Loja Photo, Loja, Ecuador
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Whenever you see a Loja Internacional bus go past they all seem to have a phrase written in Spanish on the back saying something along the lines of 'you haven't visited Ecuador until you've visited Loja'. After seeing this shortly after arriving in Ecuador I started to conjure up blissful images of how the town would look, like some kind of lost tropical paradise. Upon arriving and making my way to the designated hostel, I was hugely disappointed with what I saw; the city looks very similar to more or less every other town up and down the Ecuadorian Sierra I have visited. Loja's only saving grace seems to be the huge investment the local government has put into the local parks, for which numerous inte...Read More

Day 5 - Dressed For a Funeral (Cuenca)

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Iglesia de San Francisco - Cuenca Photo, Cuenca, Ecuador
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Making an early start was necessary to arrive into Cuenca with enough daylight hours to taste a first glimpse of the city, but even after leaving Loja at 9am, a little later than wanted, I was not expecting the journey to Cuenca to take six hours, over two hours more than outward journey through the night a few days earlier. I certainly appreciate these types of journeys through the night, with the mountain hugging, winding roads, becoming a sickening affair. Along the way I was hoping for decent scenery, scenery I had yet to witness during my time in Ecuador. As I should have known it was identical to everywhere else visited in the Ecuadorian Sierra, lush greenery, criss-crossed with a patchw...Read More

Day 6 - Voiceless Panama's (Cuenca)

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Cathedral of Immaculate Concepcion - Cuenca Photo, Cuenca, Ecuador
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After the best nights sleep in a long, long time and a breakfast fit for kings at El Pavon Real (Calle Gran Columbia 8-33, Tel: 846678), which for the first time since coming to South America I got to taste one of my favourite foods, bacon, although it didn't quite live up to the quality back home, it was time to partake it a day's worth of sightseeing around the city, which isn't that much of a hard job considering how compact the old colonial centre is.Museums for me, although full of interesting artifacts and information, quickly lose my interest. Not through any fault of their own, but it seems I am just not a museum type of person, with my maximum interest threshold reached after a pathet...Read More

Ingapirca Inca Ruins

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Attraction | "Day 7 - Lost in Time (Ingapirca)"

Ingapirca Inca Ruins Photo, Cuenca, Ecuador
Quote:
Some days you are full of enthusiasm, others you don't. Upon waking today, it was one of those days where I had to work really hard to get excited about embarking on a trip to the countries top Inca ruins, Ingapirca. After visiting the best Inca ruins of Ecuador, I was expecting these to pail in significance. Two buses a day leave from Cuenca to Ingapirca, more of a tourist bus I believe than a facility for locals, although thirty minutes after leaving the colonial, old town sights behind, the bus was crammed full of local indigenous folk, chickens squawking everywhere, the smell of unwashed and unkempt bodies turning the hot, humid atmosphere into one big dreadful stench. It's strange that to...Read More

Ingapirca Inca Ruins
Canar Province
Cuenca

El Cajas National Park Photo, Cuenca, Ecuador
Quote:
It's amazing to think that it was already over a week ago when this trip to the south was embarked upon, and it just goes to show how quickly time can pass when you're kept busy and occupied. With another three months left in Ecuador, I really hope all my time passes this fast. Although my time here has been rewarding and highly enjoyable, sometimes home comforts prove far more appealing.After the appalling weather a day earlier in Ingapirca, I had no expectations for today's day trip to the nearby El Cajas National Park, a place shrouded in rain and mist for most of the year. Leaving Cuenca, sun bursting through the quickly evaporating clouds, I wasn't that optimistic that such weather would ...Read More