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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: https://www.facebook.com/events/459588591254423/

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

Guacamole

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!

Hiking in Upper Cajas National Park – Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 79)

Hiking Upper Cajas National Park just a short drive from Cuenca Ecuador is an otherworldly experience that makes it hard to believe you’re still in Ecuador. If you’re looking for things to do in Cuenca, this should be near the top of your list.

Edwin picked us up about 9:30AM and the drive took us about 45 minutes to reach the check in station.

Cuenca to Cajas Map

Entry into Upper Cajas National Park is free, but we did have to sign in at the building by the parking lot before venturing down the trail toward the lake.

Upper Cajas Lake

We followed Ruta 1 Rosada, which was an easy/intermediate trail. There was quite a bit of elevation gain and loss with a few spots that were quite difficult to traverse so I would consider it intermediate, not easy.

Upper Cajas Ruta 1 Rosada

We saw lots of mushrooms and beautiful flowers, but this lone yellow flower set against a dark backdrop was truly stunning.

Yellow Flower

These circus flowers were also visually captivating.

Circus Flowers

Edwin was nice enough to hike up the 1,000 foot incline at the end of the hike to get the van. My legs haven’t fully recovered from the nerve damage so they were very weak by that point. Edwin sent us down the hill to the lower parking lot where he picked us up. If you need a safe and reliable driver who speaks fluent English and really takes care of his clients, Contact Us for an email introduction.

Edwin

Hiking in Upper Cajas National Park is an unforgettable experience. You can keep it easy by hiking around the lake that’s a short walk from the parking lot, you can do the intermediate hike that we did, or you can climb up a mountain and scramble across boulders. There’s something for everyone, including exotic bird watching.

See More: Cuenca Parks

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!

Hiking in Lower Cajas National Park near Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 72)

We went on another hiking adventure just 40 minutes west of Cuenca Ecuador to Lower Cajas National Park. This area of the park is much different than Upper Cajas. It’s much greener with lots more trees. If you’re looking for things to do in Cuenca, this is a great activity that most people can do.

Lower Cajas National Park Map

It took about 10 to 15 minutes to drive from highway 582 to the trailhead parking lot. It was free to enter, but we had to show our cedulas (or passports would work). There are no food services so bring your own snacks.

Lower Cajas Sign

After a short 5 minute walk from the parking lot, the covered jungle trail opens up to Lake Llaviucu (pronounced ya-vē-oo-koo), a picturesque glacial mountain valley lake nestled between two high mountain ridges. Llaviucu is a Quechua name, which is the native language spoken by Ecuador’s first people.

Cajas Lake Llaviucu

Lower Cajas Lake Llaviucu

Lower Cajas Lake Llaviucu

The valley is dotted with boulders left by ancient glaciers.

Lower Cajas Glacial Rock

The mountain views in Lower Cajas are simply amazing. Indescribable. My camera and video skills did NOT do it justice. You really have to see it for yourself, if you’re able.

Lower Cajas Mountain

Lower Cajas Valley

Sometimes we felt like we were in the movie Avatar with the steep mountains above and clouds below the peak making them look like they were hovering over the earth.

Lower Cajas Mountain Clouds

Lower Cajas National Park is an alpine rainforest so it’s wet and humid, but a little chilly. We recommend taking multiple layers that are easy to put on and take off. The temperature varied quite a lot in the span of a few minutes from chilly to warm and from warm to chilly.

It was also quite muddy and slippery so be sure to take an extra pair of shoes and socks for the ride home (and a plastic bag to put the wet ones in), or some waterproof boots would be even better. Amelia stepped on what looked like a nice grassy area and sank up to her shins in mud. She just laughed like she always does when something like that happens. I would NOT have been happy!

Lower Cajas Muddy Boots

We also spotted lots of beautiful flowers, and if you’re an orchid lover, this is the place to find wild ones. They were growing all over the trees!

Lower Cajas Orchids

Lower Cajas Orchid

We also saw this ancient Polylepis Tree. Edwin said it’s probably over 200 years old. They’re normally very small shrub-like trees.

Lower Cajas Polylepis Tree

Lower Cajas is home to wild llamas who were slightly curious about us, but mostly indifferent. We were able to get very close to them and they didn’t seem scared of us at all. Is it just me or do they remind you of French aristocrats from the 1800’s? Hopefully that doesn’t offend anyone 😬

Lower Cajas Llamas

The park is incredibly well-maintained. The trails are well travelled so they’re easy see, the docks on the lake and the walking bridges are in great condition, and we saw virtually no litter. I did pick up a button that could choke a llama, as well as some fishing line that could strangle a bird, but other than that, the park was very pristine.

Please, leave no trace fellow hikers.

Lower Cajas Button

Edwin has been in several of our videos now and he was elated to share Cajas with us. Ecuadorians are very proud of their country, as they should be.

Edwin is our friend and driver. In fact, he picked us up at the airport in Guayaquil when we first arrived in Ecuador. And he’s been driving us ever since. He’s super safe, extremely nice and very reliable. He also speaks fluent English. If you need a driver here in Cuenca and the surrounding areas, let us know and we’ll connect you with Edwin.

Lower Cajas Edwin

See More: Cuenca Parks

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!

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador + WATERFALLS!!! (Episode 57)

We hope you enjoy our Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador Hiking and Waterfalls as much as we did! This is a SUPER relaxing video from our very enjoyable hike with Edwin.

NOTE: In the beginning of the video, Amelia said we went to visit Girón and asked if I enjoyed the natural beauty. However, we didn’t conjugate the verb “to enjoy” correctly. The past tense conjugation of “enjoy” in Spanish is “disfrutó” not “disfrutió”. Lo siento 🙁

We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip from Cuenca with Edwin driving through the picturesque Ecuadorian countryside, hiking around Laguna de Busa, doing a little scary rock climbing and hiking up to a waterfall outside of Girón, Ecuador.

If you’re near Cuenca Ecuador and need a reliable, safe driver who speaks fluent English, please let us know. We’d be happy to connect you with Edwin!

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador

It takes about 1 hour to get to from Cuenca to Girón, and another 3o minutes to drive up to San Fernando and Laguna de Busa.

Cuenca Ecuador to Laguna de Basu Ecuador

Normally, the entrance fee to the Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador park is $5 each, but it was a slow day and the attendant let us in for $1 each since we had our cedulas. She would have charged us $2 if we were foreigners (extranjeros).

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador Boardwalk

The hike around the lake is idyllic with the boardwalk hovering above the marshes and views of the lake dotted with several different species of waterfowl. We even had a complimentary companion dog to escort us on our walk/hike. He was so adorable!

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador Lake

Ecuador is known for its beautiful flowers, which you can see on full display around Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador.

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador Flower

At the far back corner of the lake, the trail divides and goes in two different directions. One direction heads back around the lake and the other heads up to the top of the mountain behind the lake.

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador Hike

The hike through the jungle behind the lake was beautiful, but very difficult. It was simply too steep for us, with too many rocks to climb. My hiking boots wouldn’t grip anything and I slipped and nearly fell several times. Edwin said it was pretty much like that on the entire hike, so we decided to turn around rather than risk injury. If you’re not very fit or lack hiking experience, stick to the boardwalk around the lake.

Laguna de Busa Girón Ecuador Rock Climbing

Girón Ecuador Waterfall

After we hiked around Laguna de Busa, we drove back down the mountain toward Girón to visit one of the many waterfalls in the area.

Laguna de Basu Ecuador to El Chorro Ecuador

You’ll notice in the picture below, there are cows in the foreground with clouds in the background…both above and BELOW the cows! Ecuadorian clouds seem to defy the laws of nature, often appearing below and above us a the same time.

Girón Ecuador Clouds

The waterfall outside Girón that we visited was in El Chorro. It was a short hike from the parking lot up well-maintained stairs. The entry fee was $1 each ($2 if you don’t have an Ecuadorian cedula).

Girón Ecuador Waterfall

Amelia really enjoyed this part of our tour. She found the waterfall and the 5 meter deep pool at the bottom of it very fascinating.

Girón Ecuador Waterfall Amelia

This rope bridge crossed the river, which was about 3 meters below. Amelia joked with me about walking across it “for the amazing video opportunity,” but thankfully the tiny gate had a lock on it. I could have easily stepped over the gate, but let’s not tell her that!

Girón Waterfall Bridge

If you’re an orchid connoisseur, you’ll appreciate the abundance of orchids in Ecuador, and on this hike. They really do seem like alien plants, and they grow in the weirdest places.

Girón Waterfall Orchid

You might also enjoy our hikes in Cajas National Park:

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

Video Transcript

>> Amelia: Hola veggie lovers.

Fuimos a visitar Girón y

JP, ¿disfruta la belleza natural?

[Laughter]
>> JP: Sí.

>> JP: I don’t think that’s right.
>> A: I don’t think that’s right.

>> A: Cuz I don’t know how to say,
“did you enjoy.”

>> JP: Disfrutio.

>> A: Disfrutio.

>> JP: Yeah. Disfrutio.

>> A: Well, we went to Girón,
and we enjoyed the natural beauty.

>> JP: Yeah. We’re going to show you
all the beautiful scenery in this video,

including a waterfall and a really cool..

..scary, scrambling hike that we had to
turn around because I couldn’t..

I kept falling. [Laughing]
>> A: Yes.

It was more like bouldering.

Is that what they would call bouldering?
>> JP: Yeah, bouldering.

>> JP: Yeah.
>> A: Yeah.

We weren’t quite prepared for that.

>> JP: Nope.

And please remember to subscribe to our
YouTube Channel.

We have a lot of really exciting
adventures coming up

that are in the works,
in the planning phase.

And we’re not ready to talk about em yet

but they’re really cool!

>> A: Yes they are!
>> JP: Once in a lifetime..

>> A: I know I’m so excited.
>> JP: We have a once in a lifetime

opportunity and we’re
really excited about it.

>> A: Yes. Right Licia?
>> JP: Yeah, and Licia is too.

[Laughter]

>> JP: Alright, please remember to
subscribe to our YouTube Channel

and ring that little bell so you get
notified when we upload our newest videos.

And we’ll see you after we show you the
footage from our hike today.

>> A: Yep. See you in a few.

[Upbeat Music]

>> JP: Bye Bye sweetheart. Bye Bye.

We are on our way with Edwin our driver.

He’s also going to be our
tour guide today.

We’re gonna go to Girón and hike and
>> A: Busa Lake.

>> JP: What’s it called?
>> A: It’s called Busa Lake.

>> JP: Busa Lake in Girón

and hopefully see some waterfalls, too.

And we’re hoping that the weather
is conducive

because right now it’s a little rainy
here in Cuenca.

But Girón is quite a ways away from here.

Should be different weather.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

[Welcome to Girón]

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

>> A: We’re getting ready to go explore
Laguna de Busa or Busa Lake.

It was about an hour and a half to
get here from Cuenca

so not bad at all and the drive was
really beautiful.

[Bird Singing]

>> JP: Hey puppy.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

>> JP: It’s like the jungle.
>> A: I know.

>> JP: Welcome to the jungle, baby!
>> A: It’s cool.

So I was reading.. they normally
charge $5.

I think a person.

>> JP: Where?

>> A: If you’re a tourist.
If you’re an extranjero.

We got the Ecuador rate, a dollar.

>> JP: We have a complimentary hiking dog.

He’s showing us the way around the lake.

>> A: I’m standing on the bridge

that takes us either around, back all
the way around to the cars.

There’s a nice easy walking trail
around the lake.

Or there’s a hike to my left here,
to your right,

that takes us up to the top so we’re
gonna go head in that direction.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

>> JP: You made it. Yay!
>> A: [Laughing]

>> A: I’m not sure how to get
through here.

Ahh! Ahh! [Laughing]

>> JP: Don’t fall over!
>> A: I’m a little top heavy.

>> JP: [Laughing]

>> A: [Laughing]

>> A: I did it.
[Laughter]

>> A: That is a big rock.
>> JP: Give us the Rockie..

>> A: Oh.
>> JP: Rockie.

[Laughter]

>> JP: Well mountain climbing is not
in the deck of cards for today.

My boots are very very slippery on
these rocks for some reason.

I’ve got really nice hikers but they’re
not good on these rocks.

I just keep slipping every time
I take a step.

So we’re gonna head back and
go find a waterfall.

>> Edwin: Like this.
>> A: Ok.

>> JP: You got that Amelia?
>> A: No, but I’ll do my best.

>> E: Just put your hand here.

But, turn around. Ok. That’s it.

Put one hand there. Your left.

That’s it.

Yeah. You got it. You’re there.

You’re there.
>> A: Oh yeah.

>> E: You’re there. Yeah.
>> A: [Laughing]

>> E: You’re there. That’s it.

>> A: So you basically do slide down.

>> A: [Laughing]

>> A: Alright JP.

>> JP: You made it.

>> A: But now you gotta do it.

It’s definitely a lot slipperier
than we expected,

however, this is a rainforest so I
don’t know what we were thinking.

I did see JP fall down twice..

..slide down those rocks so that’s
kinda scary.

So I think we made the right decision to
turn around.

And I guess we need to get some different
shoes for next time.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

>> A: It is so picturesque up here.

It is.. muy tranquilo.

Actually this is, “laguna?”

>> JP: Lagunda Busa.
>> A: Busa.

So, it’s muy tranquila. [Laughing]

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

>> JP: We’re gonna head back down

the road that we drove up

and go hike up to a waterfall that’s..

it’s down closer to Girón.

We’re actually in San Fernando here
in this park, Laguna de Busa.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

>> A: Look behind you JP.

There’s a big waterfall!

>> JP: Where?!
>> A: Acá!

[Waterfall Sounds]

>> A: The waterfall is amazing and

this little bridge over here
is terrifying.

I told JP he should walk across it

cuz it would make really good video
but he said no. [Laughing]

[Waterfall Sounds]

>> A: The waterfall is beautiful.

This whole area is beautiful.

There’s a.. I guess, I guess you’d call
it a lagoon.

I’m not sure what you would call that
right underneath..

>> JP: [Inaudible]
>> A: A what?

>> JP: A pool.
>> A: A pool.

Ok. A pool underneath the waterfall
that’s 5 meters deep.

It’s very deceiving cuz it looks like it
would be really shallow.

Now I’m enjoying some delicious Canelazo

that came with our entry into
the Girón falls

which cost us a dollar. It’s a dollar if
you have your cedula

it’s 2 dollars if you do not.

>> JP: We had a really nice time today
with Edwin our driver and..

coming to Girón and San Fernando.

And now we’re gonna head back to Cuenca.

It’s about 1:30 in the afternoon.

We’ve had our Canelazo and I’m
super relaxed now. [Chuckling]

Alright, we’ll see you when we get home.

>> JP: We’re home!

We’re home!

Are you glad we’re home?

Wow! Someone’s all excited!

>> A: Que bonito, ¿verdad?

>> JP: ¡Sí! ¡Muy bonito!
>> A: Sí.

[Laughter]

>> A: Y muy relajado.
>> JP: Muy relajado.

Yeah. The countryside.. on..

driving between Cuenca and Girón was

just a beautiful drive.

>> A: It is very peaceful.

>> JP: And it’s really cool to come over

the top of the mountain over.. on the..

south side of Cuenca and..

with the view of Girón below and clouds

like below.. in between..
>> A: I know. It’s so cool.

>> JP: It’s so cool to see that.

>> A: Yeah. That never gets old.

>> JP: It doesn’t get old.

The clouds are in the weirdest spots here.

>> A: Yeah. [Laughing]
>> JP: They’re often below you.

>> A: Yeah, it’s quite fascinating.
>> JP: It is.

>> A: It is really interesting.
>> JP: It is really cool.

>> JP: So we uh.. the hike was pretty
treacherous.

>> A: JP developed a new
sliding technique.

>> JP: Yeah! [Laughing]

>> A: Which he actually intending to develop.
>> JP: [Laughing]

>> JP: Yep. It wasn’t fun for me.
>> A: No. So we turned back.

>> JP: Yeah. It was the best thing to do,

unfortunately, it was a really
cool looking hike

and it was the first time I’ve ever been
in a rainforest before

and it really felt like a jungle.

And I was disappointed that we had to
turn around, but..

>> A: It was very wet.

>> JP: It was wet and my boots were..

they have these hard rubber soles and

they were just slipping on those rocks.

Like a slippery bathroom floor.

>> A: Yes. [Laughing]

>> JP: And it was.. yeah.. I was not..

not feeling it.. feelin it today.

>> A: That’s ok because..

there’s another hike so we are going to
go back and do that one..

maybe in a couple weeks.

There’s a hike to a bigger waterfall

that’s still part of Girón.

And Edwin said that that’s about a 2 hour
hike and he said it’s moderate.

So in between the really super crazy steep
bouldering hike that we attempted to do,

and the walk up to the first waterfalls..
>> JP: The waterfalls.

>> A: which was basically
just a staircase.

>> JP: Yep. So he said it’s a little bit
harder than that

but not as hard as the other one.
>> A: Yeah.

>> A: Not those big rocks.
>> JP: So we’ll do that

in some future video. We’ll go back and

and hike up that trail.
>> A: Yeah. I’m pretty excited about it.

>> JP: Yeah. But we’ll probably
go to Cajas first.

The Cajas hike
has been on our list forever.

>> A: It has.

There’s so much to do here.
>> JP: I know.

>> JP: Or the Orchid Farm.
>> A: Yes.

>> JP: We want to go back to the
Orchid Farm, too.

>> A: I know and well we wanna
go out to Quito.

But we gotta go and stay there for weeks

to get everything checked off our list.
>> JP: I know.

>> A: This tiny country
has SO much to offer.

>> JP: It does.
>> A: It’s incredible.

>> JP: It’s so diverse within just a

few miles you could be between a jungle

and a desert.
>> A: Yes. I know.

>> JP: Or mountains and ocean.

It’s got everything. Volcanoes.

You can go skiing, I guess,
or hiking in the snow.

>> A: I don’t know about skiing.

>> JP: Our driver was telling us that
they hiked up the volcano

the highest volcano and they were almost
to 19,000 feet and it was a blizzard

came in.. and there was a team Russia

and a team from France and they were all

really mad cuz everybody
had to turn around.

>> A: Yeah. Well that would be
disappointing.

>> JP: I guess they were.. he said it was
white-out conditions.

You couldn’t see anything.

Which is weird to think
that’s on the equator.

>> A: I know. It is weird.

>> A: But 19,000 feet.
>> JP: Yeah. 19,000 feet is really high.

Alright, well we hope you enjoyed our
tranquilo video

of Girón and the waterfalls and

Laguna de Busa.
>> A: de Busa.

>> JP: Laguna de Busa.

I cannot get that right. I keep wanting
to say Basu.

>> A: I don’t know what that is.

>> JP: BUSA. Laguna de Busa.
>> A: Busa.

>> A: Sí.

>> JP: Anyway it was really beautiful,
>> A: It was.

we really enjoyed it.

We’re, we’re tired now.

>> A: We’re nice and chillaxed.
>> JP: Yep.

>> A: But, we do have to walk Daisy.
>> JP: Yep.

>> A: She did not get her
walk this morning.

She was not very pleased.
>> JP: No.

Alright. That’s it.

[Laughter]

>> A: That’s it!
>> JP: That’s it!

>> JP: That’s all folks. Beedee beedee..
>> A: ¡Hasta la vista!

Is that the saying?
>> JP: Hasta la vista baby.

>> A: Hasta la.. [Laughing]

>> JP: Alright we’ll see you next time

and please remember to subscribe and
ring that bell.

>> A: Ring that bell.

>> JP: See you soon.
>> A: Thanks veggie lovers.

Hiking in Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Marietta GA (Episode 37)

When we’re with Amelia’s family in Atlanta, hiking in Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is our favorite cardio activity. The scenery is breathtaking and the Civil War history is interesting, but it’s sad to think how many Americans died on this mountain fighting over the right to own another human being.

Some canons still remain, along with the trenches and embankments dug out by soldiers on both sides. It may be beautiful now and full of wildlife, it must have been hell on earth back in 1865.

See More: Atlanta Georgia 2018

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. We really appreciate it.