Once an isloated village, Vilcabamba has become increasingly popular with Lojanos on a weekend excursion as well as foreigners. The whole area is beautiful and tranquil with an agreeable climate as it is only at 1520m. There are many great walks and opportunities for horse riding.
The bus from Cuenca took us to Loja (5hrs) where we took a minibus on to Vilcabamba (1hr). We were dropped outside Madre Tierra and after a look around we headed on to hostal Izhcayluma which is just outside Vilcabamba. It is a lovely place overlooking the town with mountains all around. It is spacious and the rooms are good, with huge stone clad bathrooms. There is a swimming pool, eating area, gardens and a bar area with pool table, table tennis and a tv with 100's of DVDs. Overall it is a great place !!! for only $11 pp including an all day breakfast !
While we were there we played alot of table tennis and pool. We also watched several DVDs. We were still travelling with Patrick and Caroline and Simon and Vanessa, but they did not want to go horse riding so the two of us went for a 4hr ride. The horses were good, but Monica's was a bit too mad and nearly threw her off twice (rearing up on its back legs, which looked really good but was a bit scary !) so she changed with the guide. The ride took us up and down steep mountain passes and through some good places to gallop.
One afternoon we both had a back massage, which was really good. The masseur used to work in holywood for Danny de vito amongst others !!!
One day Monica decided to relax around the pool whilst all the others went for a trekk around the Mandango mountain. It involved walking up a steep mountain to two crosses. We got to the second cross and were knackered so turned back. It took about 3hrs in all.
The meals were all huge and many nights we ended up staggering from the restaurant to the bar area, full of food. However we never had lunches so we figured we wouldn`t put on too much weight......!!!
Hostal Izhcayluma - Can`t reccommend this enough, it was fabulous in every aspect !!!!!!
Madre Tierra - Expensive and missing a common area. A bit too enclosed as well. Not a scratch on hostel Izhcayluma but we heard the dinners were supposed to be damn good.