I Left My Heart in Ecuador

6 hour hike to the Vilcabamba waterfall. THE ALTITUDE WAS KILLER.

6 hour hike to the Vilcabamba waterfall. THE ALTITUDE WAS KILLER.

My time in Ecuador wound down last week and I couldn’t help but feel a little empty spot as I moved on to Peru. I had such a wonderful time during my entire stay in that country. The people, the food, the atmosphere, and the scenery were so incredible. I could not have picked a better country to begin my completely solo travelling!
After leaving the Galapagos, I flew directly into Quayaquil and hopped on a bus to Cuenca. On board, I made friends with the wonderful bus attendant and spent the entire trip taking turns practicing Spanish and English phrases together. (Sorry we never got that salsa dance, Jose Luis! I know you are reading this in Google translate!) Cuenca was an incredibly beautiful town ( like a small Quito) with lots of grand churches and a cute river running through the middle. My time there was a bit short as there was no one in my hostel that spoke English, and I’ve pretty much determined that 5 days is my limit of no decent interaction that consists of things other than greetings and asking for things. So after a few days of exploring and catching up on sleep/laundry, I made my way down to the hippie gringo town of Vilcabamba.

Beautiful church in Cuenca

Beautiful church in Cuenca

Lovely little river walk in Cuenca

Lovely little river walk in Cuenca


Ahhhhh Vilcabamba. Life was SO good there. I made my way into the town after a couple of bus connections and landed at Hostel Izcahluma – a backpacker resort. Yeah that’s right, an unbelievably beautiful property with a restaurant, pool, bar, hiking trails and SPA! Jajaja it was like heaven. After a month of traveling, billing things to my room, lounging by the pool and having my body beaten to pieces by a little Ecuadorian masseuse was killer.
On my first full day in Vilcabamba, I decided to go on a 4 hour horse ride through the Andes to an awesome lookout point. The ride was a ton of fun with alternations between walking, trotting and galloping, but after 4 hours, we all were in such intense pain that all we could think about was getting off. And after 4 hours in the intense heat and on the rocky paths, the horses got fed up too. What a funny looking group of gringos we must have been with our horses going in all directions and completely ignoring our attempts to handle them.
What a natural. Haha

What a natural. Haha

Making our way down the path

Making our way down the path

Me and Pinto. I couldn't tell if he hated me or just my hat.

Me and Pinto. I couldn’t tell if he hated me or just my hat.

The view during our ride to the mirador.

The view during our ride to the mirador.


I made fantastic friends while I was there and enjoyed drinking games and embarrassingly bad games of pool every night. I was also lucky enough to be there during a Saturday night, so a huge group of us from the hostel headed down for a night of salsa dancing and way too much drinking. At the bar, the hostel volunteer insisted that the group order pitchers of Canelazo, a hot drink made from aguardiente (fire water), fruit and cinnamon. The upside to this drink – it kept me very warm the entire night; the downside – I thought I was the best salsa dancer out there and was determined to show it. The night also consisted of an Ecuadorian birthday cake fight, people whacking each other (and us) with a belt for birthday “licks”, and a late night ride in the back of a taxi pick-up truck. The morning AFTER the Saturday night sloppiness, the group decided that it would be a fantastic idea to go on a 6 hour hike to the waterfall while nursing a hangover. All I can say is OUCH. That was brutal. The sun was so strong and the path was so steep that I was ready to turn back after the first 30 minutes and go hang out with the Ecuadorian women that were passing the afternoon lounging in the local river. But I charged ahead and made it to the waterfall with the others – and of course it was beautiful and totally worth it. And the sunset views on the way back were just stunning.
The beautiful Vilcabamba waterfall

The beautiful Vilcabamba waterfall

Views from the 6 hour hike

Views from the 6 hour hike

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3 thoughts on “I Left My Heart in Ecuador

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