Me and my girlfriend spent about a month in Ecuador in 2008 and the town of Vilcabamba (in the region of Loja) was one of the absolute peaks of our visit. The Hostería Izhcayluma is located within walking-distance (2 km) from the town square but there are taxi's that will take you there for a dollar if you're lazy.
This was the absolute best accomodation we had during our 4 months in South/Central America and we highly recommend it to everyone.
Unique Quality: - Clean, beautiful rooms. The best we had in Ecuador.
- Fantastic restaurant with a stunning view overlooking the valley of Vilcabamba.
- Cloud forest hikes, horse-back riding, free bikes etc.
- Great, helpful, professional staff. (English speaking).
Directions: Arriving from Loja, head through Vilcabamba and keep going for about 2 km. The hotel entrance is on you right hand side, opposite a church. You can't miss it.
I've been travelling in South America for 9 months and Izhcayluma is by far the best place we've stayed in all that time. I think it deserves all the great reviews it gets. We booked it one day in advance and had no problems getting a room. However, it was quite busy and it might be worth booking a week or so in advance to be sure of a room.
I've spent a large amount of time in Vilcabamba; approximately one year. Had a lot of first-hand exposure to many of the hostels, and heard many many stories from other travellers passing through. Figured I should give my 2 cents to help out anyone wondering where to Stay in Ecuador.
I'd say the best place is Hosteria Izchayluma. It's not the cheapest in Town (and actually is 2km outside of town) but that's on the Ecuadorian sliding scale. The views are amazing, the service is friendly, and the owners are great. Be sure to Say hi to Peter and Dieter if you pass through.
Even if you decide to not stay at Izchayluma, it has one of the best resturants in town, so go ahead and give them a visit. Once you see their facilities, you might end up changing your accomodations. =)
And while I'm here to share the joys of Izchayluma (no, I don't work there) I should put out that there are many options in Vilcabamba; most very affordable. The biggest piece of advice I can give, however, is AVOID Ruinas del Quinara (AKA, Casa del Mauricio). Avoid this place... stay away, especially if you are a female travelling alone. I myself had conversations with 5 travellers who had physical run-ins with the owner... 3 or 4 females who complained of unwelcomed behaviors from the owner (coming into their room late at night, without invitation, unwelcomed physical contact, etc.), and plenty of locals who just plain hate the guy. All that is in addition to the rumors and stories you'll hear about town. So when you get off at the busstop, and someone tries to pick you up in a pickup to go to Ruinas de Quinara, say "No Gracias, yo quiero ir a Hosteria del Izchayluma"
Beautiful eating place with great view. Friendly and helpful owners from Germany. There are more expensive cabins with private bathroom, and the cheaper rooms share the bathroom.
Unique Quality: Swimming pool, billard, table tennis, bar with movies in the afternoon.
Directions: From Vilcabamba's bus stop by camioneta to the Hotel. 1 $ per camioneta not per person.
OK, I have not stayed in this really nice place, two kilometers away from the center of Vilcabamba, but I have lunched over there (around 4 USD) and it was reeeeeaaally good !! The view from up there is incredible...
Bon, je ne suis pas reste dans l'hotel en lui-meme, qui se trouve a deux kilometres du centre de Vilcabamba, mais je suis alle manger la-bas, et c'etait super bon, pour environ 4 USD (et copieux !). La vue sur la vallee vaut le coup.
Directions: Ask in town
Demandez au village
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Address: Loja, Ecuador