Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation Options + More Vilca Observations (Episode 123)

In this video, we share several Vilcabamba to Cuenca transportation options, as well as a few more Vilca Observations from our week there. You’ll also get to meet a chocolate farmer who uses something other than plastic for his packaging.

Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation Options

Aside from driving yourself, here are your four options for Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation, or vice versa.

Elite Tours from Loja to Cuenca ($22/person)

We took a taxi from our hotel (Madre Tierra) to the Elite Tours office in Loja, Ecuador. Then we hopped on a van similar to the red one in this photo, and rode back to Cuenca. The taxi from Vilcabamba to Loja cost $20 for both of us (not each) and the Elite Tours Van Service cost $12/ticket. That made the total cost for both of us $44 or $22 each.

Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation Elite Tours Loja

The Elite Tours dropoff and pickup location in Cuenca is located on Remigio Crespo close to Avenida de las Americas and Feria Libre. It’s just a few doors down from the OperazuayTur office.

Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation Elite Tours Cuenca

Daily Shuttle Between Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba and Cuenca Ecuador ($15/person)

On the day of our departure, the Izhcayluma Shuttle Service that leaves Vilcabamba at 8am every day was undergoing some routine maintenance so it wasn’t running. That’s the main reason we took Elite Tours, instead. However, we also didn’t want to get up so early on our last day in Vilcabamba so it worked out for the best.

The shuttle costs $15 per ticket and arrives in Cuenca between noon and 1pm. It then returns to Vilcabamba leaving Cuenca at 1:30pm and arrives back in Vilcabamba around 5:30pm, depending on traffic.

Public Transportation ($8/person)

The most economical option is to take a bus from Vilcabamba to Loja, Ecuador. This takes 60 to 90 minutes and costs $1.50. Then you’ll need to transfer to another bus that costs between $6.50 and $7.50, and takes about 4 hours to arrive in Cuenca. You can take this route from Cuenca to Vilcabamba, too.

Since we haven’t done this route, here’s a link to more information. At roughly $8 per person, this is the cheapest way to travel between

Private Driver (Like Edwin)

You can also hire a private driver to take you from door-to-door. The cost varies by driver, time of year and distance, so we can’t quote any prices, but $100 and $150 is reasonable for a private driver. If you’re travelling with 4 or 5 people, this will be nearly the same cost per person as taking the Elite Tours Van Service, only it’s door-to-door.

Our Driver Edwin

If you’d like us to connect you with Edwin, please drop us a note through our Contact Form and we’ll send an introduction email. Edwin has been featured in several of our videos.

SuperMercado Patricia Cuenca Ecuador

We also gave a brief tour of SuperMercado Patricia in the video. It’s a small grocery store near our house in El Vergel that we like. It’s convenient, closer than Supermaxi and has a better selection of tools, lightbulbs, paper and other random items.

SuperMercado Patricia Cuenca Ecuador

SuperMercado Patricia Cuenca Ecuador Hardware Store

Vilcabamba Chocolate Farmer

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any contact info for the chocolate farmer we met in Vilcabamba on our last night there. We were impressed that he doesn’t use plastic to package his products. Instead, he uses natural materials like leaves and reeds. His chocolate was pure and delicious, too!

Vilcabamba Ecuador 9 Chocolate

Vilcabamba Ecuador 7 Chocolate

Vilcabamba Ecuador 8 Chocolate

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Vilcabamba Ecuador: 5 Things We Loved + 1 Interesting Observation (Episode 122)

On our last day in Vilcabamba Ecuador, we decided to share the 5 things we loved plus one interesting observation. It’s a truly magical place and should be on your list of places to visit.

#1 The Vilcabamba Weather

We were in Vilcabamba during the dry season, which is June through October. While it did rain a little and was cloudy a little during our 8 days there, it was mostly sunny, breezy and warm. And a welcome break from the cloudy, chilly winter days of Cuenca.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra View 1

The mornings and evenings were a little chilly so we were thankful to have our jackets and pants, but we wore shorts and short-sleeved shirts most of the afternoons.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra View 2

#2 The Natural Beauty of Vilcabamba

We have been to a lot of tropical places, but Vilcabamba ranks up there as one of the prettiest. The natural beauty is sometimes shocking and hard to believe.

Vilcabamba is located in a valley, so there are amazing views of the mountains from lower elevations, and the valley from higher elevations.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Natural Beauty Valley

Flowers and fruit trees are in abundance everywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our tour of Madre Tierra Resort and Spa, as well as our walking tour of Vilcabamba for a view of the amazing flowers and fruit trees.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Natural Beauty Flowers

Vilcabamba Ecuador Natural Beauty Fruit Trees

#3 The Vilcabamba Hiking

When we lived in Denver, Colorado, we hiked almost every weekend during the spring and summer months. We loved getting away from the busy city to enjoy the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Well, Ecuador is just as beautiful if you love hiking like we do. Unfortunately, on this trip to Vilcabamba, we weren’t able to hike as much as we wanted to due to my recovering sprained ankle. It’s almost completely healed now, so I’ll be ready for our next trip!

Our favorite hike was along the Rumi Wilco trail that leads into Vilcabamba. It was so quiet and peaceful that we had it nearly to ourselves. We only saw a few people on both days we hiked the trail.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Rumi Wilco Trail

Vilcabamba Ecuador Hiking Rumi Wilco River

We also hiked along the gravel road that runs in front of Madre Tierra. It passed San Joaquin and looped around back into Vilcabamba. The views along this road of old structures and Mandango on such a bright blue-sky day were unbelievable.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Old House 2

Vilcabamba Ecuador Old House

Vilcabamba Ecuador Mandango

#4 The Food in Vilcabamba Ecuador

Since we stayed in a hotel without a kitchen, we ate out for every meal. Most of our meals were at Madre Tierra, but we ate in town several times, too.

Mico’s Oasis Verde

Our favorite place by far was Mico’s Oasis Verde. We interviewed Mico about his restaurant and style of cooking in another video if you want to learn more. His food is plant-based, gluten-free, soy-free and delicious. We don’t have an issue with gluten or soy, but we appreciated the vegan options.

Mico's Oasis Verde Vilcabamba Ecuador

Click to Enlarge

United Falafel Organization Vilcabamba

We also enjoyed United Falafel Organization (UFO) and their garden. The atmosphere and service were amazing, but their falafels were to die for! They were rich and flavorful, as were their fresh-made pitas and hummus. Yum!

Vilcabamba Ecuador United Falafel Organization Sign

Vilcabamba Ecuador United Falafel Organization Falafels

Urku Warmy Vegetariano Vilcabamba

We also really liked our dinner at Urku Warmy Vegetariano in Vilcabamba. We had a giant salad that we shared, plus a delicious veggie pizza sin queso.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Urku Warmy

Vilcabamba Ecuador Urku Warmy Pizza

#5 Vilcabamba is Tranquil and Peaceful

Vilcabamba was much quieter than Cuenca. We didn’t hear many car alarms and no house alarms. The buses are much less frequent and don’t run through the center of town. The motorcycles are still loud, though, but the majority of sounds are farm animals and children playing. Overall, it was very tranquil and peaceful.

We especially like seeing all the people in El Centro enjoying life with family and friends. It was the hub of activity it the town, just like it used to be in the states several decades ago. It’s a much slower pace of life there.

Vilcabamba Ecuador El Centro

Interesting Observation: The Eclectic Mix of People

One thing that stood out over everything else was the eclectic mix of people in Vilcabamba. The gringo population is quite large there, much larger than we expected. Sometimes there were more gringos in and around El Centro than Ecuadorians. It appears the gringos spend their days talking with friends and drinking beer at the numerous streetside restaurants around El Centro.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Streetside Restaurants

We heard multiple languages during our brief time in Vilcabamba, including French, German and lots of English, among others we couldn’t identify. Spanish is by far the most common, though. And many of the older Ecuadorians who run the shops and restaurants, and drive the taxis, don’t speak English, so knowing some restaurant and taxi Spanish is very helpful.

We used Duolingo and Memrise to learn some Spanish before coming to Ecuador. And now, our Spanish tutor is helping us take it to the next level.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Vilcabamba Ecuador Tour 2019 + Mico’s Oasis Verde (Episode 121)

This video starts with a Vilcabamba Ecuador Tour showing our walk around town. Then we talked with Mico from Mico’s Oasis Verde before enjoying a delicious plant-based dinner.

See More: Vilcabamba Ecuador: Madre Tierra Resort Tour + Rumi Wilco Hike + Bachata Dancing (Episode 120)

Vilcabamba Ecuador Walking Tour

Vilcabamba Ecuador is located about a 45 minute drive south of Loja Ecuador. The name Vilcabamba comes from the Quechua language spoken by the indigenous people in this area, and means “sacred valley.” Vilcabamba was a popular “vacation” spot for Inca royalty.

We thoroughly enjoyed our Sunday walking tour of Vilcabamba Ecuador. It was nice to see so many people enjoying El Centro.

Click to Enlarge

Mico’s Oasis Verde – Vilcabamba Ecuador

UPDATE: Mico moved his restaurant to Cuenca and changed the name to El Oásis.

Mico's Oasis Verde Vilcabamba Ecuador

Our dinner at Mico’s Oasis Verde in Vilcabamba was out-of-this-world! Mico and his team are true artists when it comes to plant-based cuisine. We enjoyed Mico’s creations so much that we ate there three times during our stay in Vilcabamba.

Mico's Oasis Verde Team Vilcabamba Ecuador

The photos in this gallery are from several visits to Mico’s Oasis Verde. Click to enlarge.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Vilcabamba Ecuador: Madre Tierra Resort Tour + Rumi Wilco Hike + Bachata Dancing (Episode 120)

On our trip to Vilcabamba Ecuador, we stayed at the beautiful and relaxing Madre Tierra Resort and Spa. We also enjoyed a leisurely hike on the Rumi Wilco trail along Río Vilcabamba. And we ended our video with a night of bachata dancing with Johnny and Olesya.

We hope you can join us at our first unconventional social event in Cuenca on Wednesday. If you’re planning to attend, please RSVP on our Facebook Event so we can give our venue a headcount:

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra Resort & Spa

We absolutely LOVED our time at Madre Tierra Resort & Spa in Vilcabamba Ecuador. The grounds were beautiful, our room was very comfortable, the food was delicious and the views were spectacular! If you book with them, tell them Amelia and JP sent you!

View from our Room at Madre Tierra Resort & Spa

On our second day in Vilcabamba, we awoke to sun and blue skies, with incredible views of the valley and mountains. I snapped these shots with my iPhone, but had no idea it would capture what we were seeing with such clarity. I didn’t edit any of these photos, but they still don’t look real!

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra View 1 Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra View 2

Hiking Near Madre Tierra Resort & Spa

In addition to the Rumi Wilco hike we featured in the video, we also hiked along the gravel road in front of Madre Tierra Resort & Spa.

Madre Tierra is the pin just below the “P” in San Pedro in the map below. On Wednesday, we hiked west along the road and looped back into Vilcabamba for lunch.

Vilcabamba Madre Tierra Walk Map

The views along the road on a bright, sunny day were equally unbelievable to the views from our room. This is a photo of Montaña Mandango, known as the sleeping Inca by the indigenous people. You can hike all the way to the top of this mountain, but we’ve been told it’s a very difficult hike. Maybe we’ll do that on the next trip to Vilcabamba.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Mandango

Vilcabamba Ecuador Old House

Vilcabamba Ecuador Old House 2

On Thursday, we hiked up the ridiculously steep road heading northwest from Madre Tierra and were rewarded with these views of the valley below.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Hike 1 Vilcabamba Ecuador Hike 2

Madre Tierra Resort & Spa Dining

As with most hotels and resorts, the vegan menu options were limited. However, they went out of their way to accommodate our dietary requirements with some very delicious food.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra Breakfast 1

Fresh Fruit and Juice

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra Breakfast 2

Oats with Fruit and Cinnamon

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra Beet Soup

Beet Soup

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra Dinner 1

Vegan Sauteed Veggie Stuffed Crepe

Vilcabamba Ecuador Madre Tierra Guac


Bachata Dancing with Johnny and Olesya

If you’re interested in taking dance lessons with Johnny, check out our Cuenca Ecuador Salsa Dancing video for more information.

Vilcabamba Bachata Johnny Olesya

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Driving from Cuenca to Vilcabamba Ecuador + Yoga con Olesya (Episode 119)

ANNNDDDD WE’RE OFF!!! Driving from Cuenca to Vilcabamba Ecuador is extremely beautiful. It took us over 5 hours, but it normally only takes about four. We arrived very late so we didn’t film our first night of bachata dancing. Stay tuned for that in the next video.

After a short night of sleep, we woke up early for yoga con Olesya at Madre Tierra, a beautiful resort hotel here in Vilcabamba Ecuador. We’ll also give you a tour of this resort in our next video.

We had a delicious dinner at Mico’s Oasis Verde, which we’ll also feature in another video.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Retreat Group Micos

We’re hosting our first social event for the Cuenca unconventionals next week in El Centro. Please let us know if you’re coming by RSVPing to our Facebook Event:

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!