Vilcabamba and climbing Mandango
Vilcabamba Travel Blog› entry 27 of 92 › view all entries
A short distance from Loja (another wonderful bus ride through the undulating Andes) is the small town of Vilcabamba which has, according to my trusty guidebook (Footprint South America, very good apart from its occasional habit of making up restaurants that may have once existed in the past but don´t anymore, leading to me walking round the same streets a number of times to see if it really doesn´t exist and to work out where does, leading to locals thinking I´m either mad or a good target for a mugging) is one of those places that has become an established route on the Gringo-trail. So I thought I´d go and have a look, much better than spending any more time than was necessary in Loja!
Also according to the guidebook a ´pleasant´walk is to climb Mandango (´The Sleeping Woman´) - one of those hills that would be described as a mountain in Britain, but at only around 2000m high its a hill here! Anyway, pleasant doesn´t describe it properly - it was a tough walk, but rewarded us# with the most fantastic views I have seen in Ecuador.
# I say ´us´ because by some amazing coincidence when I entered the small cabin that marks the beginning of the walk, the old lady who indicates in rather too-quick Spanish the path that you should follow (and issues a threat that if you don´t tell her you´ve returned she´ll be forced to call the police and report you missing, or something like that) was talking to a Danish couple (Christian and Louise) who had left Baños on the same bus as me and who had then taken part in the endless hassle of trying to get tickets for the bloody Riobamba train (with the final result that they rather sensibly decided not to bother).
Anyway, it was very good to catch up with them again and have climbing companions. And they said they had a map too, which would allow us to make a round trip.
Anyhow, apart from this adventure the walk was fantastic because of the 360 degree views over the small town and surrounding hills. These were the best ´vistas´ I´d seen on any walk in Ecuador (which are easily the best I´ve seen anywhere), I hope the photos go some way to indicate how beautiful the area was. And in addition it was at times as dsngerous as the Pichincha climb had been, with very narrow and steep paths with a huge drop on either side. Still, that just adds to the fun in retrospect (if not at the time!).
Oh yes, and Vilcabamba itself was nice enough too - a typical quiet small town with a central park and not much else!