- Encounters with locals
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Off the beaten track
At the end of my trip to Ecuador, I wanted to go to Vilcabamba to discover the secret of eternal life. I want to live to be a healthy one hundred year-old, as promised by the legend which has made the town famous. It seems that Vilcabamba is the town of eternal youth. It is famous for its large number of centenarians. One of them claims to be 127 years-old. A gentle way of life and a gentle climate, allied with the promise of a long life expectancy, are enough to have attracted colonies of retired Americans. They come to live out their days in beautiful houses which they have built near the town's entrance. The day I arrived I stood amazed in front of the church because a funeral was going on! The town had lost one of its centenarians.
As it seems that people die even in Vilcabamba, I decided to accept the inevitable. But since I was there, I didn't want to mope around so I chose the nearest path and went off on a walk. I left the village and walked along a river. It was a paradise of birds and butterflies. The butterflies were gathered around puddles. Which gave me the chance to observe them closely. They were blue, lemon yellow, red and black, orange and black.
So, to summarise, I recommend you come and spend a few days in Vilcabamba. You won't find eternal life but you certainly won't die of boredom.
After ten days in a vegan finca and a long night in a bus I arrived in the "promised land" - Vilcabamba, described as a paradise on earth...I left my bags in a slightly more luxurious hotel than usual (a pleasure I deserved after 10 quite horrible days) and went off to eat in town, where I found a nice restaurant on the main square, which was quite quiet. People near me were speaking English and I realised that they weren't tourists but people who lived there, some of the famous American pensioners who come to "Vilca" because of the quality of life there.
Altogether I spent four days in Vilcabamba. What with some walking and some relaxing at the hotel, the time went quickly. I also took a Spanish course from an ex-village teacher who had been recommended to me. So I saw her for several hours a day and on the last night I even slept at her house. In short, whether you want to relax or clamber about in nature, Vilcabamba is a good place to visit during any trip to Ecuador!
We hadn't planned to stay very long but no sooner had we arrived than we felt like settling down there for a few months. We were directly welcomed into the great family of gringos who have settled there. We felt so much at home that we considered changing all our plans for our trip in Ecuador to spend more time in the place.
The fact is that couch-surfing, which we done almost everywhere in South America, has its advantages: you come into contact with the population, meet interesting people, and see things through the eyes of locals and not only as simple tourists. It enabled us to discover this new wave of hippies who have come to settle in harmony with the locals to live from the land and start afresh.
Organic shops, vegetarian diet, legends of the fountain of youth, hiking in a natural environment, evenings by the fireside... in Vilcabamba we found a true piece of paradise where we would very much like to return to one day.