Hear about travel to Loja and Southern Ecuador as the Amateur Traveler talks to Lily Ann Fouts about her visit to this lesser-known region of Ecuador.
Lily says of the area, “It’s beautiful. It’s a wonderful destination for people who are into hiking and bird watching. The city of Loja is considered the cultural capital of Ecuador, so there’s a lot of music and arts going on there. It’s a wonderful destination for people who are interested in arts and the natural world.”
Lily first directs us to some of the touristy and non-touristy activities in the city of Loja, including the cathedral and some of the other churches, the parks, the market, and hikes into the nearby Podocarpus National Park. She directs us to the Museum of the Culture of Loja and the Museum of Music. She particularly recommends being in town on a Thursday night when there is always some sort of free concert or cultural event.
After visiting Loja, Lily directs us to make 5 different side trips in the region: Cuenca, El Cisne, Vilcabamba, Zamora, Saraguro.
The old historic center of Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its colonial architecture. It is a larger city, so it also has a great number of cultural events. She recommends a stop at the Central Bank Museum and at the nearby ruins of Tomebamba. Tomebamba used to be the northern capital of the Inca.
El Cisne is a much smaller town that is dominated by the large church El Santuario de El Cisne, which is dedicated to the Virgin of El Cisne. A pilgrimage starts from this city every August and continues to Loja.
Vilcabamba is more of an expat community with a bit of a new age vibe. It has another entrance to Podocarpus National Park as well as the Rumi Wilco nature reserve. Your English will get you a bit further in Vilcabamba than in Loja.
Zamora is just 90 minutes away from Loja by bus but is on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. It has a more tropical climate. From the nearby entrance to the Podocarpus National Park, you can enjoy trails, waterfalls, orchids, birds, butterflies, and swimming holes.
Lilly recommends a stay in Saraguro with an indigenous family as part of a community-based tourism effort in the town.
Take a trip along the road less traveled in Southern Ecuador.
Lily Ann Fouts
33 Touristy (and not-so-touristy) Activities in Loja, Ecuador
Matilde Hidalgo de Procel
Mama Lola (restaurant)
Vegetarian Foods in Ecuador
Pucará de Podocarpus (restaurant)
Cafetería El Tamal Lojano (restaurant)
Podocarpus National Park, Loja, Ecuador
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Rumi Wilco nature preserve
Turismo comunitario Saraguro
Cuenca in Photos
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Amaluza and Yacuri National Park
LojAventura (facebook group)
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November 2017 – India Amateur Traveler Trip