Vilcabamba is a small town in Ecuador, just an hour south of Loja. In google, it will tell you the top attraction is to climb Cerro Mandango, however, this also has a rap for tourists getting robbed. The town is a mix of locals, tourists, and expats who decided they wanted to settle in a cheap paradise where natives are known for living to a full century. We didn’t climb Cerro Mandango since we met a young woman from there who suggested another hike, not as well known, actually, I wouldn’t even be able to recall the directions now!
We spent two days hiking to find the waterfall she had recommended, the first because we missed a turn (the trail isn’t groomed for tourists and therefore not marked well and that’s why we loved it), and the second when we actually found the waterfall. It was incredible and amazing and well worth the two days of hiking. We met a couple of cows and horses along the way, one lone hiker, and not many others. The trail was narrow and weaved in and out of forests.
There’s not much parking at the trail entrance, but we bumped into a nearby friendly building crew who actually suggested we park around the space where they were constructing a house, after chatting for a bit. They talked about how they were building the house for a “gringo”, and the negative feelings towards this type of invasive permanent non-native species that seems to have descended in droves to the town. Their words…however we did also meet a local chef who echoed their sentiments. We were eating dinner one night at the table next to him and his wife. They were sharing a post-shift late night drink and appetizer at a small restaurant in the corner of town and were two of the loveliest human beings I’ve had the pleasure to meet.