Do you want to know what it’s really like to live in Loja? You’ve probably read articles that make it sound too good to be true. In this post, I’ll give you our honest opinions, facts about the city, and things to do and see. We’ve lived here for 7 months and have enjoyed it.
“Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway” (John Wayne) Not realizing what we were getting into, we went on a 4 1/2-hour trail ride into the mountains close to Vilcabamba, a small town in southern Ecuador. It’s not an adventure for the faint-of-heart, but it was worth every penny!
In southern Ecuador, an awesome phenomenon occurs – the guayacán trees come into full bloom. After a nine-month dry season, the rains begin, and trees that have sported bare branches for most of the year erupt in canopies of brilliant yellow flowers. We had a wonderful trip and enjoyed a local delicacy – “goat-in-the-hole”.
Located in Loja, this fascinating Nativity display is the largest of its kind in Ecuador, and one of the largest in Latin America. With over 1300 figures, it takes over a month to set up, covers an area of about 220 square metres (2400 square feet), and stretches for over 30 metres (100 feet). We were totally impressed!
One of the main entrances to Podocarpus Park is located just south of Loja. After hiking to 2900 meters/9500 feet, we were rewarded with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, and a wide variety of plant life along the way. Another day well spent!
“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” (Yogi Berra) The back roads surrounding Girón are perfect for hiking, biking, or rambling around by car. You can walk or ride for hours in the countryside, experiencing rural life in the Andes.
The small town of Girón, just south of Cuenca, is nestled in the northern end of the Yunguilla Valley. It’s home to the Festival of the Bulls, an annual religious and cultural event that has been held for over a hundred years.
Laguna de Busa is a small lake at the base of the San Pablo hills, 2 kilometers from San Fernando, and about 60 kilometers from Cuenca. Legends say there are treasures of gold and silver in the depths of Laguna de Busa. We didn’t find any, but we enjoyed our visit.
El Churro waterfalls are located about 6 kilometres from the Andean town of Giron, roughly an hour south of Cuenca. We totally enjoyed our hike to the falls, and the scenic walk back to town.
A great day in the Andes thanks to Mario and his family and friends. We left Girón, drove through the picturesque Yunguilla Valley, drank some local liquor, hiked a few kilometres along a river, and came home with a lot of good memories – and a big bag of oranges.
We left our home in Puerto Lopez on the morning of April 16th, 2016 for a daylong tour of an organic farm, an earthquake the farthest thing from our minds. We arrived home just in time for a surreal experience – one that will remain etched in our minds forever.
Finally, a close encounter with the famous blue-footed booby – and baby booby too! A great boat ride, 37 kilometres off the coast of Puerto Lopez, to Isla de la Plata, also known as “Poor Man’s Galápagos”.