Originally published June 16 2010
Top ten things to love about Vilcabamba Ecuador, the Valley of Longevity
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) If you love perfect year-round weather and enjoying your own locally-grown foods, you'll love Vilcabamba, Ecuador. I lived there, on and off, for over two years, and in that time I came to know many of the people, places and cultural highlights of Vilcabamba. In this story, I'll share with you some of the best of Vilcabamba, Ecuador, where you can visit as a tourist or find a home to live the good life for pennies on the dollar!
Here's what I like most about Vilcabamba, Ecuador:
#1) Amazingly nice localsAs my Spanish ability improved with practice, I made many friends with the local Vilcabamba people. They are exceedingly nice, polite and very friendly to visitors. They even have an unusual knack for understanding the really bad Spanish spoken by many visitors, and they go out of their way to try to communicate with you in simple words that you'll easily understand.
Most of the really good friends I made in Vilcabamba were locals, and we would spend hours chatting about various things: The climate, gardening, horses, tourist activity, politics, health and much more.
#2) Ridiculously good climateThe climate in Vilcabamba just can't be beat: It's absolutely perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too dry, not too wet. The air is crisp and clean, and the temperature is so perfect that they don't even build homes with air conditioning or heating units.
I've traveled the world and the closest I've ever come to the perfection of this climate is the Big Island of Hawaii. But land on the Big Island can cost anywhere from 20 to 100 times the cost of similar land in Vilcabamba.
#3) Papaya's CafeIf you visit Vilcabamba, you've got to visit Papaya's Cafe. Launched earlier this year by an American named Carey, Papaya's Cafe became an instant hit with both the locals and the foreigners living in the Valley of Longevity. The cafe serves up a variety of menu items, both from the realm of health-conscious eating (they sometimes host raw food dinners) and local Ecuadorian cuisine.
The decor and ambiance of the restaurant is outstanding, and the view from the second floor is quite breathtaking. You can hang out in Papaya's Cafe for hours, chatting with friends and living the good life while enjoying smoothies, desserts, main courses and much more!
Papaya's Cafe is located adjacent to the Vilcabamba bus terminal, on the North side of the street. Just ask anyone in town to point you in the direction of either the cafe or the bus terminal. It's easy to find.
#4) Very low cost of livingThe cost of living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador is surprisingly low, even if you're hiring a lot of help. A typical garden worker makes from $10 - $15 per day, and locals are always looking for more work. (I frequently had people stop by my house asking for more work.)
To help create our amazing food forest ranch on 20 acres, I hired as many as 3 grounds workers, plus a house helper who would prepare raw food smoothies and keep the house clean for us. The total cost of these four people was significantly less than one full-time helper working in the U.S.
If you want to see what we accomplished with the food forest, see the photos of my ranch at: http://www.naturalnews.com/Valley-of-Longevi...
#5) Madre TierraThe most amazing resort in the Valley of Longevity is Madre Tierra ("Mother Earth"), a beautifully constructed resort with a spa, restaurant, water pools, and an assortment of other natural features.
Madre Tierra offers an incredible value as a really nice place to stay in the valley. It's just outside of town: Far enough away to avoid the party noise on Friday and Saturday nights, yet close enough to walk to town in about 15 minutes (or you can take a short taxi ride).
Check out their website or make reservations at www.VilcabambaMadreTierra.com
The resort is under new ownership as of one month ago, and I personally know the new owners. They're really dedicated to updating and improving the resort to meet western standards. They've already enhanced many of the rooms, and they're working on remodeling the kitchen to improve it as well. If you visit the kitchen, say hello to Lolita (one of the cooks), as I've known her for several years and she's a really friendly lady who makes some wonderful Ecuadorian dishes.
She makes an amazing (yet simple) dessert with egg whites and fresh Maracuya fruit!
#6) Tourist activitiesThere are a great number of fun and exciting tourist activities in Vilcabamba. The first is horseback riding, where you can take adventures into the Podocarpus National Forest (see below), or up to the sacred mountain of Mandango (the sleeping Inca) on horseback.
There are several horseback riding tour organizers in town, and I don't know them all, but here are two that I personally know and trust:
• Angel. He's a long-time resident of Vilcabamba who is extremely nice, humorous and highly skilled in the outback. His front door, which is a carved mural of horses, is located just 1-2 blocks North of the main town square (downhill from the town square). Just ask anyone for "Angel" and mention horses ("caballos"), and they'll point you in his direction.
• Holger is another horse tour guide, and he's really fun to ride with. He's a super nice person who really cares for animals and the environment. He has a cool temperament and solid knowledge of all the paths and roads throughout a wide-ranging area around the valley. His shop is located just one block East of the NE corner of the main square. Ask anyone for "Holger the horse guy" and they'll point you in the right direction. (The photo at the top of this story is a picture of Holger and one of his horses, which usually grazes on the grass in front of my house.)
Bicycle tours: There are also some great bicycle tours around Vilcabamba, including combination bicycling / walking tours to some amazing waterfalls! The bike tour guy in town is called "El Chino" (that's his nickname), and he's located 2 blocks East of the NE corner of the main square, right across from Maria's shop (which sells fresh fruits, avocados and sometimes even organic tomatoes).
Once again, just ask anyone for "El Chino" and mention bicycles ("bicicletas") and they will point you in the right direction.
There are many other tourist activities in Vilcabamba as well, including a hummingbird garden to the South, a botanical garden in Loja, the cacao-growing town of Zamora to the Northeast, and the Sunday market at Malacatos to the North. There are plenty of taxi drivers to get you from place to place (look for the white pickup trucks; they're the taxis), and many of the drivers can now speak English. In fact, lots of the people in Vilcabamba have been learning to speak more English over the last two years.
Be sure to also check out the nice restaurants located around the town square. You'll find a selection of restaurants (including a French cafe), internet cafes and tourist shops. If you're there on a Saturday, you'll often find crafts for sale under tents set up along the sidewalk. It's a fun time!
#7) Podocarpus National ForestThe Podocarpus National Forest is one of the natural treasures of Ecuador. Check out the photos from my own tour of the forest right here: http://www.naturalnews.com/phototours/podoca...
Here's one of the more amazing photos of the scenery you'll experience there: http://www.naturalnews.com/phototours/podoca...
Read my description of our adventure into Podocarpus in this story: http://www.naturalnews.com/028997_Podocarpus...
Podocarpus is an immense and deeply diverse biological preserve that stretches from the edge of the Valley of Longevity all the way to Peru. It is an extraordinary forest with so many unique and fascinating life forms that scientists come here from all over the world to study it.
I only took a short adventure into Podocarpus, and even then I got to see numerous waterfalls, lush rainforest trails, bizarre and unique plant life covering the tops of the mountain ridges, and much more. It was truly an amazing experience, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of the natural beauty that Mother Nature has to offer.
By the way, you can hire the horse guides I mentioned above to take you into the Podocarpus National Forest. They'll arrange anything from a 1-day trip to a 7-day tour, if you like!
#8) Food everywhere!Food production in the Valley of Longevity is so easy and abundant that it's almost hard to believe. In mere weeks, you can grow a huge garden full of vegetables from the rich topsoil. In a few months, you can grow endless papayas, figs, babacos and berries. In a few years, you can have your own orchard of oranges, macadamia nuts, jungle almonds, noni fruit, avocados and much more. (I've got all those in my orchard of over 100 fruit and nut trees...)
And if you don't want to grow anything at all, you can just start juicing the grass as we have been doing for several months. The field grass mixes extremely well with pineapple juice to make a delicious, refreshing raw living juice right from the fields. (And there's grass everywhere in the valley.)
The amazing food production capability in the Valley of Longevity is what makes Vilcabamba a destination of choice for many people concerned about preparedness and the world food supply. In Vilcabamba (and in Hacienda San Joaquin in particular, which has some of the best soils in the whole valley), you can grow a year-round food supply that will easily outlast any disruptions or interruptions that might impact the cities of western nations.
#9) Affordable homes and propertiesVilcabamba offers a wonderful place to live for those looking for homes or land in South America. Prices are relatively affordable compared to anywhere in North America or Europe, and there are some very nice properties available right now, in many different price ranges.
The best location for living in Ecuador, in my opinion, is Hacienda San Joaquin, a 500+ acre ranch that is now a gated community where many people from all over the world have built homes and are growing a considerable amount of food on their land. This is where I've been living on and off for the last two years, growing my food forest.
Because I now have a much greater need for privacy than I first realized, my "preparedness paradise" ranch is available for a new family. It's a six-figure price range. Check out the amazing photos at http://www.naturalnews.com/Valley-of-Longevi...
For those looking for something more on the high end, there's a gorgeous estate property available on the same ranch, just down the road from my own property, that's selling in the seven figures. Email us at [email protected] and we'll send you the link to the photos and description for that property. It has its own indoor swimming pool, volleyball courts, tennis court, private orchards, horse fields and a whole lot more.
If you're looking for something on the more affordable side, my neighbor Matt has some land available right across the street from my own ranch. They've got something like 2.5 acres of good land available in the five figure range. Email us at [email protected] for more details.
If you're looking for something outside the Hacienda San Joaquin gated community, simply contact the Vilcabamba Real Estate Company (VREC), which is the local real estate company I recommend: Nick Vasey, [email protected] or visit www.VREC.org for information. They have a lot of property listings for land and homes around the valley.
Remember when buying real estate in Vilcabamba that land is cheap if it has no roads, no electricity, no internet, no water and no access. But land that's actually usable for living or growing things needs support infrastructure, and that's what ultimately costs more money. You can get land dirt cheap if it's out in the middle of nowhere and has no roads. Some properties are literally only accessible by horseback...
#10) Freedom from electromagnetic pollution, chemtrails, air pollution, water pollutionVilcabamba, Ecuador is remarkably free from most kinds of pollution: Electromagnetic, air and water. On the electromagnetic spectrum, Vilcabamba has only one cell tower, and the electro "vibe" of the valley is relatively clean and pristine. No planes fly overhead dropping chemtrails on the population, either. (So you can breathe a sigh of relief...)
The ground water is amazingly clean because it's recharged from rainfall on the nearby Podocarpus National Forest, where water flows down into the valley on a regular basis. It creates a unique situation where you have lots of sunshine hitting the valley, but you also have a very large water supply from the nearby mountains, so you have both full sunshine and lots of water (two things that normally don't exist together in the same exact geographic region).
The air in the Valley of Longevity is also strikingly clean. It has even been studied by scientists in an effort to determine whether some special property in the air encourages greater longevity. Personally, I think the longevity factor is more about eating lots of local foods and spending a lot of time outdoors walking, working or playing.
Come visit Vilcabamba!Whether you just enjoy the natural beauty or you're looking for a place to live in a "preparedness paradise" with abundant food, Vilcabamba has a tremendous amount to offer.
Come check it out!
Some travel tips:
• Quito is the capitol of Ecuador. That's where you'll fly to. Quito is located south of Florida, almost to the equator.
• Continental Airlines flies from Houston to Quito (roughly 4.5 hours). LAN Airlines flies from Miami to Quito.
• From Quito, you fly TAME Airlines (the local Ecuadorian airline) which offers some very nice Embraer jets on routes between Quito and Loja. From Loja, it's a 90-minute taxi ride to the Valley of Longevity.
Once in Vilcabamba, you can stay at Madre Tierra, Hosteria de Vilcabamba, Hosteria Izhcayluma, or other available places. There are usually plenty of rooms available except during celebration events when the whole town sells out!
If you're coming to look at property, Nick at www.VREC.org can help you organize transportation. Joe's staff at Hacienda San Joaquin (www.VilcabambaHomes.com) can also assist with that effort if you're coming to look at properties on the Hacienda (where my ranch is located). There are also a few unsold lots at Hacienda San Joaquin that might interest you if you prefer to live in a gated community.
Enjoy your trip and take lots of great pictures!
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