Our last stop in Ecuador was in Vilcabamba, a lovely village to stay before crossing the border to Perú.
I visited the National Park Podocarpus on my own.
The travel to Perú was a thrilling experience.
The little village Vilcabamba is located in southern Ecuador, in the Loja province.
About 4200 habitants live in Vilcabamba which lies at an altitude of 1600m above sea level.
We stayed in the Hostal Izhcayluma which is recommended everywhere and indeed, it was a good place to stay.
National Park Podocarpus
The national park Podocarpus is only a 50min drive away from Vilcabamba and covers an area over 1460km². The park was created 1982 and is categorized as a megadiverse zone, with a high amount of endemic species.
The Podocarpus National Park is a meeting point of four ecological systems: Northern Andes, southern Andes, Amazon and the Pacific. It includes areas between 1000m and 3500m.
I decided to visit the park alone, because Laura had caught a cold, maybe during our last hike in the PN Cajas. I started early at 6am and had enough time for a little hike, birding and photographing. The weather wasn't great. It was dripping the whole time and at the end of my trip, the inside of my big lens got foggy.
Travel to Perú
Our travel from Vilcabamba, Ecuador to Chachapoyas, Peru least very long and many things happened. In total we traveled during two days, for 480 kilometers and used several vehicles.
We started at 10am in Vilcabamba. We took a bus to Zumba which was supposed to take 6 hours, but with the heavy rainfalls, the conditions of the road was unpredictable. On the bus station we met Birte and Lisa, two German girls who were heading to Chachapoyas as well. We decided to travel together and had a great time.
Already during our bus drive to Zumba, the last city before the border, we observed many landslips and rockfalls on the road.
The bus had problems driving and we were stuck at one place. A big landslip covered the whole street, roadmen created a new dirt road just next to the old one. The bus was too heavy, the street too slippery and the bend to small. They tried to cross the street with enough speed, but the mud made it impossible. The wheels of the bus were smoking and the roadmen had to help. They were digging the wheels out and put sticks of bushes for more grip underneath. After a while they worked it out and we continued travelling southwards.
We spent the night in Zumba and looked to find any food to continue the travel.
The next morning we started at 8am, we took a Ranchera and drove on a bumpy road to the border "La Balza".
On our way, we had to cross a river which was bigger with the heavy rainfalls. A bus was already stuck in the river and the driver tried to remove the stones in front of the wheels. The friendly driver of our Ranchera tried to pull the bus out of the river, but it didn't work. We crossed the river next to the bus as well, but without any problems. On the other side, many pickups and another Ranchera were waiting to cross the river too. Somehow the other Ranchera didn't make it and got stuck too. A big stone under the tank made it impossible to pass. Everyone was helping to free the Ranchera and they did it after 30 minutes of hard work. The other Ranchera continued the road to Zumba and we went on to the border. Nobody was helping the bus driver anymore. I don't know what happened to him, probably he is still trying to free his bus.
After two hours and a half, we arrived at the border. Getting a stamp for leaving Ecuador and entering Perú was easy, they were just working very slowly. It took us more than an hour.
On the other side in Peru, we were looking to find a taxi. A minivan seemed to be the best option, as we would get all our stuff in and we would still have enough place during the 1,5h road to San Ignacio. Somehow another taxi driver didn't agree with our choice. He wanted to split us, so that in every car would be the same amount of the people, or we four should drive with him. Unfortunately, splitting wasn't an option for us and four people with big backpacks into a tiny car for such a long drive wasn't so smart. A conflict started between both taxi drivers. We didn't change our mind and after a while it seemed to be okay and both started driving. Some hundreds meters further, where a landslip had taken about half of the street down to the river, the first driver stopped and started to discuss again. We thought they would a start a fight soon. The first driver blocked the street for more than 15min, like a little stubborn kid. Finally, traffic coming from the other side forced him to clear the road.
In San Ignacio, we changed our money to Soles and our transport vehicle. We decided to take a minibus to drive from San Ignacio to Jaén. We thought we would start as soon as we were in the bus, but the driver was looking to find one more person. He finally found two more passengers and started like a rocket. He was driving like crazy, with more than 80km/h in the bend and after he hit the first bump to slow down really hard, we made it clear to slow down. After a while, the driver had the idea to put one more passenger into the bus, because he claimed that there was still one free place on the last bench (backpacks don't count). This would mean one more person in a full bus and the backpacks for the next two hours one the lap. We had to tell him that it was impossible, but this wasn't the answer he wanted to hear. He was angry, mumbled some words and continued the road.
In Jaén we had to change the terminal. For the first time we were using the motortaxis. We took another minibus to drive to Bagua Grande. Actually the seats were full and there was no more space on the bus, but an old women decided to sit in front of us which made the trip a bit more uncomfortable.
The minibus dropped us out somewhere on the street in the rain, next to the next agency. This was our second last transport vehicle for this trip. The road to Chachapoyas took three hours. In Chachapoyas we took a taxi and finally arrived in our hostel at 8 p.m.
Same same but different view!