some of the activities and participants of the Vilcabamba Wellness Fest

The Vilcabamba Wellness Fest 2023 returns

The Wellness Fest returns in its second edition on January 27, 28 and 29, 2023, at the Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Loja (Vilcabamba headquarters)


meeting between peoples

The Vilcabamba Wellness Fest is projected as the benchmark wellness event in Ecuador and undoubtedly the most important that takes place in the Sacred Valley of Vilcabamba (in the south of Ecuador). 

There is a prophecy that when the eagle and the condor fly together, the time will come for peace to rain on earth forever.

Dozens of local, regional, national and international artists prepare their arts for this meeting that through different forms of cultural expression, as well as other spaces for talks, workshops and conversations, aim to bring traditional knowledge of health and well-being closer to new trends. western holistic health

Similarly, during the three days of the Wellness Festival, dozens of exhibitors framed in fair trade, social economy, health, agroecology and other ventures of different products and services will have a space for exhibition and sale. 

While in 2021 the main theme was "our right to health alternatives in times of pandemic"; the central theme of 2023 will be "Healthy territories as a fundamental axis for the well-being of the peoples"

Rebecca Tozzer is part of the group that organizes this edition of the Wellness Fest 2023 and mentions that "for this reason and considering the experience of the original peoples of Ecuador in protecting healthy living spaces and the threat situation that these peoples suffer in general At present, due to the advance of extractive industries (mainly) in their living spaces, the 2023 edition of the Wellness Fest will also receive more than 100 representatives of the different peoples and nationalities of Ecuador”.

Talks, workshops, and conversations at the Vilcabamba Wellness Fest 2023

It should be remembered that the issue of the importance of caring for a healthy territory is fundamental at this time in Vilcabamba and its surroundings, since in these times the entire population that inhabits the sacred valley and our way of life as we know it is also threatened by the alleged opening of 4 open-pit mining mega-concessions (more or less 4,000 hectares each) in the surrounding area.

The educational goals of the Wellness Fest 2023 include: Cosmovision of Life in Harmony with Nature, Ancestral and Traditional Medicine, and Management and Care of Healthy Territories.

For Rai Dayal, from the organizing team, these goals will be achieved through "multicultural exchange on alternative medicines, organic agriculture and environmental practices (reforestation and water resources management practices) and sovereignty over our personal health."

The Elders will share their wisdom and experience with plants and natural remedies, the philosophy and practice of caring for the Kawsak Sacha (Living Forest) and the nature of our relationship with the Earth.

 We generate community coherence with the cooperation of all for the well-being of all and the principle of Sumak Kawsay that translates as prosper or good living. 

Fausto Valero, from the organizing team, stated that "a meeting of all the participating peoples and nationalities is being organized, the day before the start of the Festival (that is, January 26) where they seek to share experiences in protecting territories and how to keeping them healthy is closely related to the well-being of the people.

If you want to know the participation options for the Vilcabamba Wellness Fest 2023 as an artist, therapist, vendor or exhibitor of talks, workshops or conversations, or you want to buy tickets (with the lowest possible price until January 1) please visit the site official

Logo of the Vilcabamba Wellness Fest 2023

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People in Vilcabamba interacting with Sarayaku women during their visit to the Sacred Valley

Sarayaku in Vilcabamba 2022

With different activities scheduled for the days before and during the holiday of the Dead, a group of women from the Worthy Original Kichwa People in Resistance of Sarayaku, make a visit to the Sacred Valley of Vilcabamba from October 30 to December 6.

Presentation of documentary film with themes of great importance such as the history of the Sarayaku People's struggle to defend and protect their territory, as well as their Kawsak Sacha proposal for their living spaces; These are the two topics that will precede a discussion space with those attending Randichina Wasi (Hulcopamba street, next to DISENSA) on Thursday, November 3 at 4:00 p.m. 

Invitation to participate in events with visiting Sarayaku women in Vilcabamba

SARAYAKU WARMIKUNA VILCABAMBA LLACTAY (Visit of the women of Sarayaku to Vilcabamba) will also have other components such as the preparation of traditional maitos of various types (fish, chicken and even a vegetarian version) that will be available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the holiday of Deceased.

A meeting of WAYUSA UPINA, a traditional space for conversation, gratitude and understanding, will take place at dawn on Sunday, November 6.

Utilitarian crafts and accessories as well as samples of materials from the jungle and some medicinal plants complete the visit of the women defenders of the jungle.

If you want to know more about the culture of these Amazonian Kichwa women, attend one of the meetings, talk with them, support their ventures (a clear example of economic alternatives in territories threatened by extractive industries) and enjoy sharing.

Learn more about Sarayaku on its official website


After a trip of several hours on the Bobonaza, women from Sarayaku visit Vilcabamba
Sarayaku women's utility items in Vilcabamba

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Natural product stores in Vilcabamba. 1st part

Vilcabamba (located in the Valley of the same name) in southern Ecuador is well known for the alternative, healthy and natural lifestyle that is sought after by many of the people who live there. 

Likewise, the offer of natural, organic and healthy products is wide compared to the size of the population of the head of the Valley of Longevity in the province of Loja.

In this first installment we present two of the health and wellness options that are offered in the central area of Vilcabamba: Solomaco and Coconut Coffee Shop.


Laura Preciado, better known as Crystal, comes from a town called Chía, which is north of Bogotá. There the cold can be cruel and it is almost always cloudy. So, he came to Vilcabamba on vacation, along with his little daughter, Luciana. His idea was to stay for two months, but he fell in love with the climate, the town, the mountains, the rivers, and that time lasted longer and longer. That was three years ago.  

Crystal has been in cosmetics for seven years. Back in Bogotá, she worked full time in a beauty salon and here in Vilcabamba she also offers her aesthetic services, but she has also been working for more than a year, serving the public, at the Solomaco store, located on Bolívar and Agua de Hierro.

The store was created six years ago by Emilie Moragues, who comes from the French part of Switzerland, and started selling natural products and everything related to tobacco. But now it has expanded much more, and in Solomaco you can find a huge variety of products related to food, personal care, geo cosmetics, natural medicine, handicrafts, essential oils, most made in Vilcabamba, and others brought from outside, for example, Guayaquil, Cuenca or Ibarra.

But, in addition, Solomaco stands out because it is a store that is highly sought after by healers, herbalists, or people who seek to carry out their own energy cleansing ceremonies and rituals. They have, for example: the tobacco for ceremony, the snuff (powder made with tobacco that is used to purify the pineal gland) and applicators, the mambe (or ypadú), which is a powder obtained from roasting, grinding and sifting the Amazonian coca leaves and other plants. "It's got loads of vitamins, it's energizing and it's also used for rituals," says Crystal.  

And other products that have a particular magic. For example: essential oils harmonized with Tibetan bowls, or kits to carry out your energy purification rituals at home, or cleansing of sexual energies.

Also, you can find books by authors residing in Vilcabamba, or pieces of art by local artists, as well as handmade jewelry. In addition, chamico, blends or mixtures of tobacco with other herbs for smoking and paraphernalia for those who smoke: bongs, pipes, vaporizers.

In addition, there are now large jars of spices that are sold in bulk (culantro, parsley, chives), a variety of teas and coconut oils. In natural medicine you find: aloe vera, moringa, propolis, probiotics, colloidal minerals (gold, silver, copper, magnesium and zinc) in drops to take. Soon, they will incorporate dehydrated fruits, also in bulk.


Sonia Angamarca, originally from Vilcabamba, created the Coconut store six years ago, located in front of the central market. At first, he sold coconuts and ice cream. But over time, he saw that the foreign community was looking for organic 100% products, so he started looking for them. It began by bringing goat and sheep cheeses, and continued with an infinity of natural products that cannot be found in other stores. Thus, it specialized in the organic and vegan market.

The store grew so much in recent years that coconuts were no longer a priority, but the name stuck. Let's take a look at some of the products you can find at Coconut.

For personal care, you find shampoos, lipsticks, toothpaste without fluoride, mouthwashes, toothbrushes, all organic; as well as intimate soaps, glycerin soaps, beer soaps, ginger soaps, activated carbon soaps. In addition, repellents, deodorants, alum stone, rose water, all produced in Vilcabamba.

Sonia also has the Green Harmony line of essential oils and diffusers, which are sent to her from Guayaquil.

In natural medicine, it has MMS (acronym for "miracle mineral solution" or "miracle mineral supplement"), as well as colloidal minerals (gold, iron, silver) to take in drops. Also, moringa, spirulina, dragon blood, activated charcoal pills, collagen, vitamin E and C, Omega, black garlic pills, magnesium capsules, zinc, probiotics.  

Besides, it has all the salts: in grain, black, from the Himalayas, sea. And also products for cooking: paprika, curry, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, nutmeg, cumin, bay leaf, seeds. Also, algae, such as nori and agar agar, which are imported products.

It also has nutritional yeast, different types of honey: maple, panela, avocado, honey with pollen, mishki. And different types of cocoa, as well as nuts: dates, pecans, papaya, roasted and unroasted cashews, Brazil nuts, sliced almonds, blueberries, mango, uvilla, pineapple, tomato, all dehydrated.

You can find in Coconut: coconut milk, aloe vera powder, rice flour, suhi rice, Italian rice, quinoa, tamarind, panela, coconut sugar, organic chocolates. All kinds of flours, but only wholemeal. There are organic noodles. “I only bring gluten-free noodles: heart of palm, chia. And only sheep, goat, and vegan cheeses: lupine, chickpea. Not for cows, because you can find them in any store,” says Sonia, who owns the only store of this type, at least on this side of town, facing the main road.

“I learned about this organic theme here with them, with foreigners, little by little. Mine moves only with foreigners, nothing national. My way of eating also changed. I totally gave up white sugar”, comments Sonia, and she rushes to prepare a totally nutritious and natural breakfast, because she also offers that service.

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Art and activism to celebrate Vilcabamba

A group of people living in Vilcabamba leave a present of art and colors in the Central Park to make their voice clear that the trees of this common space of our parish are respected.

Crocheted mandalas during days where mothers, daughters and grandmothers met, between stories and laughter, enjoying their creations that are now hugging two of the trees that are a way of celebrating our beloved Vilcabamba in the month of its festivities traditional.

For Vane Ron, who was the facilitator of this process that brought together children and adults during 5 days of preparation in a natural space in the parish of Vilcabamba, the importance of this action, in addition to "filling our common natural spaces with color" is the to "make aware that we are present to enforce the trees in our park", referring to the threatening project that the Municipality of Loja intended to implement an "urban regeneration" plan for the Central Park of Vilcabamba and in which several of its trees They were threatened with removal.

Participants of the crochet workshop "Dress up your Vilcabamba tree"

Vanessa, who has been making creations of this type for more than 10 years with her venture “The Varonessa”She shared her knowledge in what she calls a coming and going of learning, since, according to what she mentioned, several of the participants had previous experience in other types of crochet stitches, which contributed to enriching the Crochet Mandalas Workshop, which was the preparatory activity. to the "dress" of the two trees in the Vilcabamba Park that was given as a present for our community and its visitors.

Tree in Vilcabamba Park embraced with crochet fabric
A Tree in the Vilcabamba Park embraced with crochet fabric

Since Go2Vilcabamba, our immense thanks to the weavers Zaraida, Lucia, Luli, Vane, Maria, Melissa, Kiara, Benjamín, Dana, Piedad and everyone who continues to join so that this first experience is multiplied with art and colors to other spaces. of Vilcabamba. 

Vilcabamba parochialization festivities 2022

Vilcabamba Festivities 2022

The town of Vilcabamba in the so-called "Sacred Valley" advances entrenched towards economic, cultural reactivation and as a tourist destination for Nature and Well-being in its 161 years of parochialization.

The month of May is a time of celebration for the people of Vilcabamba who, due to their parochialization festivities and after the traditional novenas that began on May 4, come alive with different cultural, sports, religious and civic activities.

Vilcabamba celebrates 161 years of having become a parish with a rich program. Meet her, save your dates and come with your friends and family to this paradise to celebrate with us in the valley of longevity during this month of May.

Vilcabamba parochialization festivities 2022
Coronation and exaltation Queen of Vilcabamba 2022
Saturday May 21
20H00: Coronation and Exaltation of the Queen of Vilcabamba
Guest artists.
Friday May 27
O9HOO: Interinstitutional Sports Meetings
10HOO: Open house
20HOO: Proclamation of the Mother Symbol, Centennial Mother, Community Leader. Guest artists.
Saturday May 28


08HI5: Cycle Tour Loja – Vilcabamba
08HOO – 17:00: Artisan, Productive and Gastronomic Interparish Fair
O9HOO: Sixth Provincial Contest of Paso Horses
17HOO: Flute Concert Tribute to Ecuadorian Music

19HOO: Thanksgiving Mass

20HOO: Cultural Night and Fellowship Dance with the presentation of Gustavo Velazquez
Sunday May 29
09HOO: Military and Student Civic Parade
11HOO: Solemn Session for the 161 Years of Parochialization of Vilcabamba

A classic at the Vilcabamba Festivities

The Vilcabamba Peruvian Paso Horse Competition is undoubtedly one of the favorite activities that attracts young and old and is organized by the "Vilcabamba" Equestrian Club.

Peruvian Paso horse at the Vilcabamba festivities, Ecuador

Photo credit: Laurie Miller. Facebook

The 6th Sectional Contest of Paso Horses

Date: Saturday May 28, 2022
Place: Vilcabamba Municipal Stadium
Time: 09H00
Draft fillies, Bosal fillies from 3 to 4 years old, bridle and spur mares from 4 to 6 years old, bridle and spur mares from 6 to 8 years old, bridle and spur mares from 8 and up
Bosal cleats from 3 to 4 years old, brake and spur cleats from 4 to 6 years, brake and spur cleats from 6 to 8 years, brake and spur cleats from 8 and up.
Bosal colts from 3 to 4 years old, bridle and spur colts from 4 to 6 years old, bridle and spur colts from 6 to 8 years old, bridle and spur colts from 8 and up.



Let's support the Shuar brothers who visited Vilcabamba at the WellnessFest

A group of local Vilcabamba resident experts in different areas will travel in the coming days to provide support and some immediate support to one of the Shuar communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon that participated in the Wellness Festival and which is currently doubly hit by the effects of the pandemic on its people, which are still being felt in various aspects of their daily lives, and by what is denounced as a growing contamination of its rivers (which are their source of food) due to mining activities that affect their territory.

Representatives of this Shuar community who participated with traditional medicines and ancestral wisdom in the Wellness Festival last year in Vilcabamba were the ones who requested the help.

The people of this area of the Ecuadorian Amazon are in a desperate situation these days. Their river is polluted by mining and they can no longer eat the fish that has been their traditional source of protein.

In response to their difficult situation, this delegation will carry out an assessment in the Shuar communities of Uunt Wishin, Santa María de Tunanst, San Vicente, Asunción, Yuganza and San Andres in the province of Morona Santiago during the days of their visit to learn about their needs. priorities and make possible forms of support.

The idea is to find ways to help them reaffirm their indigenous sovereignty and implement processes that help restore their self-sufficiency for food, health and the local economy.

The delegation volunteers their time and expertise and will travel by bus and stay in low-cost hostels to keep costs as low as possible.

The team that will visit these Shuar communities needs to raise $ 1000 to cover expenses and have a small fund to buy some much needed food at the Macas market to help the Shuar brothers in these difficult times.

Additionally, we are seeking donations of the specific items listed below in new or like-new condition, brought to you by our delegation.

Children's clothing (all types and sizes)
pruning saws
commercial size essential oil distiller
Large piece of greenhouse plastic.

Donations will be accepted until Friday, May 6 between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Please bring your items and cash donations to Dr. Sunday's house (known to taxis as “Doctor Domingo's house”)

Donations outside that time or more information on how to help
Español : Contact Phil
Spanish: Contact Darwin

Thank you for your kindness and for making a difference in the lives of others!

Cover photo credit: Technical University of Ambato

Panoramic view of Como en Casa with a tilapia pool. Restaurant in San Pedro de Vilcabamba

"Like at home". A family restaurant in a natural environment.

Chef Juan Guillermo Ruiz, born 33 years ago in Valle del Cauca, Colombia, has lived for 15 years in San Pedro de Vilcabamba. He is the owner of the restaurant "Como en Casa", which is on the route, at the exit of San Pedro. It is a peaceful place, surrounded by nature and beautiful flowers, where you will find a lagoon with tilapias.

Many people looking to eat fresh tilapia, either roasted or sweated in sauce, prepared by expert hands and with the touch of grandmothers, come to this place, which is also known for its grilled meats and for serving Lojano dishes. , as traditional as the pea soup with banana, or dishes as typical, in Colombia, as the paisa tray. And while the diners wait for their food, they chat, have a beer, a natural juice or a horchata, at the foot of the lagoon.


Juan Guillermo arrived in Ecuador at the age of 8, because his mother married an Ecuadorian, and he stayed until he was 15 years old. He returned to Colombia to study and graduate from college. And he returned to Loja to study at the University. He studied English, and was in Medicine until the third semester, but he dropped it. And he found his true vocation, which is Gastronomy, within the Hospitality and Tourism career.



Before getting married, his mother-in-law proposed to him to reopen a restaurant that she had in Taxiche, where his wife is from. He was happy, and said yes of course. "The day after we got married, my mother-in-law told me: the restaurant is already open, let's go to work!" he says. And that's where it started "Like at home". At that time, he sold Creole chicken, jerky, dried goat, peas with bananas. And with her, Juan Guillermo learned to make Ecuadorian dishes.  

Also, he started making Colombian dishes, and they were doing well. But the pandemic came, and they were forced to close. Juan Guillermo, in order to pay his debts and survive, moved to the San Pedro area, where his parents had the land where the new “Como en Casa” is now located.  

“I started selling at home: barbecue chicken wings, hamburgers, when it couldn't be opened. I didn't earn much, but that way I was able to pay off my debts,” he recalls. 

Another episode in his life is that before opening the restaurant, Juan Guillermo was a vegan chef. He worked in a company, in Vilcabamba, owned by an American, that offered the “detox retreat” service. There were 15 days in which people detoxified at the point of a raw-vegan diet. They brought a teacher from Washington to teach her all the secrets of the so-called kitchen. “raw vegan”. And so he learned to make cheese, pizza, pasta, sauces, hamburgers, bacon and a thousand other recipes, all without animal meat and all raw.    

But that experience was left behind. Now he owns his own restaurant. And everything has improved. "I've been open for about a year. I already have a target, a good clientele. There are people who have come and returned because there is nowhere to sit,” says Juan Guillermo, who has directly employed five people, even more so when it is Sunday or there are events (birthdays, weddings, graduation parties).  

The capacity is for 50 people, but it is doing so well that it is already expanding to be able to hold larger events and serve more clients.  

And it is that the homemade touch that Juan Guillermo's food has is felt, and it attracts. The creaminess of the pea soup with banana is unique. A soup that, despite being a Loja dish, was taught to him by a lady from Santa Rosa. 

“The food here is healthy. I always try to get organic products. A neighbor provides me with tomatoes, lettuce, organic onions. My food is not saved. People like to wait here, because they know that it is food made at the moment and of quality”, he comments proudly.  

Regarding the prices, he says that “they are not that cheap nor are they that expensive, they have an average of between $7 to 10 dishes”.  

The diners arrive, for the most part, from Loja, but foreigners from Vilcabamba and people from San Pedro de Vilcabamba also appear. 

The success of his venture is based, on the one hand, on the fact that he is behind the entire process. He does not neglect his tasks as a chef: making the dressings, the cuts, the sauces, roasting the meats and preparing the dishes. Also, he takes care of the administrative tasks: getting the best suppliers, paying the bills and salaries. And the teacher's tasks: teach his collaborators the recipes. Behind his success there is faith, perseverance and hard work, but, above all, there is passion for what he does. Juan Guillermo loves cooking and it shows.  


For reservations at the “Como en Casa” restaurant, you can contact Juan Guillermo through Vilca Services 
either follow his page on Facebook



Group of children and their parents in the Art Workshops in Vilcabamba of the House of Culture - Loja


Ballet, Cinema and stop-motion, Audiovisual Realization, Drawing and Painting, Guitar, Present Body Dance, Urban Dances, Play-acting, Singing, Literary Creation, are the ten artistic disciplines that are offered in the modality of Face-to-face Workshops, for children, youth and adults, at the Vilcabamba Technological Institute (via Yamburara Bajo).

The workshops, which have the endorsement of the House of Culture of Loja, started in october, and resumed, along with the school year, the first week of January 2022.

These workshops were born at the initiative of Altaira Rojas, a social communicator and cultural manager from Loja, who has been carrying out activities related to art in Vilcabamba for 6 years, and now directs the Film workshops. Some residents may remember, in 2017, when she directed a production in stop-motion about the myths and legends of Vilcabamba. Five teachers and 30 children participated in this work.  

After the pandemic, Altaira, who is a member of the Casa de la Cultura, made the decision to come to live in the Sacred Valley with her 7-year-old son Ismael and continue her work of promoting art in the community.

“I brought this proposal, and some people joined. One of them, María Elena Íñiguez, who belongs to the Eco-Club Vilcabamba and then many more local people have been helping me”, recounts. But it has not been an easy process.

It started with a diagnosis, which took us a year. We did surveys, interviews, to find out what children, youth and adults wanted to learn”, Explain.

The space where the workshops are held is managed by the Technological Institute and the House of Culture. And then everything is self-financed with what the parents pay for the workshops, which have an average cost of $35 per month.

"We are still waiting for the signing of the agreement between these two institutions to be able to start managing other types of financing"Altaira says. Everything depends on the rector of the Technological Institute, Richard Ruiz; and the director of the House of Culture, Diego Naranjo.


Groups of children in the Art Workshops in Vilcabamba of the House of Culture - Loja

This project needs support to be able to sustain itself in the long term. It has a social character, so it seeks to grant scholarships to students. At the moment, 30% has a scholarship, and there is a list of 20 children waiting. This can only be achieved with external support. Therefore, Altaira asks the community, local businesses, those who can afford it, to sponsor a child.

Another issue that makes it difficult to access the workshops is distance. "There are parents who bring their children from other communities and pay $6 for the taxi, because there is no internal public transport here".

Despite these drawbacks, Altaira has moved forward with great enthusiasm, and they have already made a presentation of what has been achieved in just 2 months. At the moment, there are between 40-50 participants, and 8 teachers.

There are the Drawing and Painting workshops, with David Saritama, plastic artist. The singing and guitar workshop, with Fabián Pico, musician and artist. The Dance Body Present workshop, with the dancer Tamara Ortega, and Literary Creation, with the writer Marcela Noriega. All of them residents in Vilcabamba.

On the other hand, the Urban Dance and Ballet Workshops are taught by teachers from the Loja Danza Academy, one of the oldest and most prestigious in Loja. Francel Vargas will be teaching and the Sunday classes will be taught by the director of the academy, Aura Ocampo. And Sandra Urueña joins the staff, with the Ludiactuación Workshop for children and adults.

Fabián Pico, teacher of singing and guitar, is of Colombian origin, and studied with Ukrainian teachers, at the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga, one of the best in music. “I came to Vilcabamba to play with the band Mandango Stereo. I have also played with rock, jazz and blues bands. Also, I was a professor in many institutions in Colombia. Now I am here, and we hope that there will be an important artistic growth in the area”, comment.

For his part, David Saritama, a plastic artist and designer from Loja, has lived in Vilcabamba for 3 years, and already had experience working with children. “This is an activity that children need. They are in an exploration stage. They feel a natural affinity for art. They love going to classes, they are always ready and on point”, He says.

For him, it is not just about teaching a technique, “but also instill in them the parameters that govern life in society, such as creativity, the importance of creating, sharing with others, teaching and learning”.

If you want to be part of the Workshops, you can go to the Institute, or contact Altaira Rojas on whatsapp 099 929 1508.


Schedules of the Art Workshops in Vilcababamba of the House of Culture - Loja


Marcela Noriega. Writer- Collaborator Go2Vilcabamba

Marcela Noriega
Writer - Collaborator. GO 2 VILCABAMBA

Ancestral Ink Tattoo and its success with tattoos in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

In   Ancestral Ink Tattoo Studio, located in front of the central square of Vilcabamba, a well-known nature and wellness destination in southern Ecuador, the Colombian Nelson Heredia has made around 800 tattoos, to locals and foreigners, in a few months since he opened the tattoo shop with his partner that everyone recognizes today in Vilcabamba.



Tattoo on arm. Ancient Ink Tattoo Studio. Vilcabamba-Ecuador
Lion of Juda tattoo on arm. Ancient Ink Tattoo Studio. Vilcabamba-Ecuador
Jaguar tattoo on arm. Ancient Ink Tattoo Studio. Vilcabamba-Ecuador
Head tattoo. Ancient Ink Tattoo Studio. Vilcabamba-Ecuador

Nelson and his partner, Dayana, leave their native Ibagué in 2019, heading south. They want to get to know Peru and, first, cross Ecuador. Meanwhile, Nelson takes advantage of his tattooing talents, earning a few bucks along the way. But the pandemic grabs them in Montañita, and the mandatory lockdowns frustrate their plans.

They decide to continue as far south as possible so that, when the border opens, they will advance to Peru. And it is then that they arrive in Vilcabamba, the town where their lives change forever. 

Without a penny and without the possibility of tattooing, because everyone is confined, they sign up as volunteers on a farm, in exchange for food and lodging. Two months later, they find out that Dayana is pregnant. A gray cloud covers them. The journey seems impossible.

Nelson watches himself 14 years earlier. He is 18 and is about to make his first journey through the interior of Colombia. Doubt. His first daughter has just been born, but his desire to travel is stronger. So, to take her with him, on his skin, he tattoos her name: Sarah Sophia.

Upon returning from that trip, he began to tattoo himself. He does not buy implements, but builds his own machine. He wrecks his brother's remote-controlled cart, rips out the motor, and uses guitar strings to make the needles. He watches some videos on YouTube and goes on an adventure.  

In the midst of this newfound passion, he begins to study Architecture at the University. He graduated as an architect in 2016. When he got his first job, he invested in buying his first tattoo kit, “a Chinese kit for beginners”. He tattoos many people, improves his techniques and understands professional tattooing better.

“Vilcabamba was a beautiful coincidence. And the best thing that could happen to us”, he says and continues the story, when he finds out that he is going to be a father for the second time. “We collected money for the merchandise, equipment, stretcher and others. In 3 months we found the place, we saved and we both worked hard. We made everything from scratch. This allowed us to learn to work as a couple.”

since it opened Ancient Ink Tattoo He had many clients. And it is that the innovative style that Nelson handles is not found anywhere. He charges $25 for a 2-by-2-inch minimalist tattoo, and he also handles hourly rates. “There are tattoos that take 30 hours, which are done in different sessions. For a realism-color design, we charge between $40 and $50 per hour”, she comments, while watching her baby sleep peacefully, Sumq, already seven months.

The key to successNelson says, “It is in that mental strength that people have. That when everything is against us, we can turn the situation around, and do something positive with it”. 


Marcela Noriega. Writer- Collaborator Go2Vilcabamba

Marcela Noriega
Writer - Collaborator. Go2vilcabamba

Cerro Mandango. Vilcabamba -

Cerro Mandango, witness of the daily life of Vilcabamba

In the Sacred Valley of Vilcabamba, Cerro Mandango is one of those striking sites that nature has capriciously designed, and that are an invitation for those who visit them to rediscover the beauty of these natural spaces full of charm and stories.

Cerro Mandango is undoubtedly one of the main icons related to Vilcabamba. His presence accompanies many of the activities in different aspects and perspectives in the daily life of Vilcabamba.


Some facts about Mandango

To the west of the urban center of the Vilcabamba parish (in the province of Loja, in southern Ecuador), stands out an elevation with unique characteristics that impress and captivate the attention of both locals and those who visit it.

With a maximum altitude of around 2,030 meters above sea level, this elevation is known by the name of CERRO MANDANGO.

Geologically, the Mandango is a calcareous structure of compact earth and a very solid base that has rugged and pronounced flanks and its elevated part ends in two peaks: one is a viewpoint, normally the terminal point for hikers and the other a little higher, surrounded by vertical walls that make it impossible to climb, except for its southern part.

This capricious elevation is undoubtedly the most recognized natural attraction in Vilcabamba, being a place of visit for excursions both by locals and travelers who arrive in Vilcabamba.



Discover the mystical charm of Cerro Mandango, a legendary mountain that keeps stories and ancestral traditions in Vilcabamba. With its whimsical shapes, this imposing hill has awakened the imagination of the local population and has become a symbol of fertility, majesty and connection with the divine.

If you look at the Mandango from different angles, you can see different interpretations: some see it as a reclining lady, with her full breasts representing prosperity and life. Others describe it as an imposing palace, with inaccessible walls and a roof that defies the passage of time. There are also those who see it as a gigantic aborigine observing the infinite firmament from its reclining position.

Every year, on May 3, following a deep-rooted tradition, the local inhabitants make ascents to Cerro Mandango to visit a cross located on its peak. This cross, which was originally made of wood, marks the end of a legendary dispute between the Mandango and another hill called the Guaranga. It is said that both mountains threw giant stones that resounded with impressive noises, until the placement of the cross put an end to this confrontation.

On the other hand, there are dozens of stories of sightings of unidentified flying objects in the surroundings and above Cerro Mandango.

Likewise, there are several groups of people who make the ascent with a more spiritual objective and make offerings of thanks when they reach the top of the Hill.

The ascent to Mandango

The ascent to Cerro Mandango is suitable for people of all ages, and although from Vilcabamba it may seem like a difficult journey, the truth is that the climb is possible even for children. This is the case of small groups of schools in Vilcabamba who carry out promotions from time to time in the company of teachers or tutors. In these cases it is always recommended that an adult do it.

The ascent is made by one of Vilcabamba trails, which with different degrees of difficulty brings visitors closer to the top,

Depending on the pace of each walker, the entire route (ascent and descent) can take a few hours (3 to 4), although there are reports of athletes running up and down the Mandango in less than an hour. Light clothing, good mountain shoes (in some areas the path is very rocky), lots of water and some fruit is what you should take with you for the ascent of this icon of Vilcabamba.


Approximately 2/3 of the way up along a rather winding path, you come to a small and cozy flat area, which is covered with a layer of grass and populated with bushes, especially faiques, changuis, casacasas and guabillos. (all native trees), which invite you to rest under their shade and take new strength to undertake the journey of the last third of the way.

In this last downhill stretch it gets a little more difficult, and can exhaust some people; but whose prize for being overcome is the wonderful view of an extensive and impressive landscape, accompanied by pure air that refreshes the day. The peace that can be felt in the place spreads to those who reach


Sunset behind the Mandango
Path up to Mount Mandango - Vilcabamba
View of Vilcabamba, From the top of the Mandango


Due to the fact that security incidents occurred in the Cerro in previous years, the EcoClub Vilcabamba Collective has been working for several months with the aim of improving the physical security of those who visit it.

Dozens of steps in the steepest areas prior to the first summit and a life line that accompanies those who decide to reach the top are two of the actions that the group has been working on.

Currently, the EcoClub has signed cooperation agreements with other institutions to continue improving access and in general the experience of visiting this important tourist destination in Vilcabamba.

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Mother Earth Festival. Ñaño House Museum. store

Ñaño House Museum with everything for Mother Earth

Ñaño Casa Museo, a space for the promotion of conscious art in the city of Loja, will celebrate the "Madre Tierra" Festival throughout the month of November 2021.

The objective of this event, which will run from November 5 to 27, is to be one more tool on the road to strengthening awareness, organization and struggle for our Mother Earth.

The "Madre Tierra" Festival will take place in the context of the current situation in Ecuador where "nature continues to be threatened, looted and destroyed", as stated by Aquiles Salinas, part of the organizing team of this event and who firmly adds that the The axes of the festival are: ART, NATURE AND RESISTANCE.

Mining and oil extractivism, transgenics and monocultures, which threaten territories and communities, are some of the variables of the all-consuming way in which "development" is projected, and which also includes Loja, the venue for the event and the city that will be held. would be affected by the Threat of mega-mining in the Fierro Urco páramo

Mother Earth Festival. Ñaño House Museum. store

Traditional Andean ceremonies, cinema-forums, pampa table, conversations, exhibitions, music, literary meetings and other events that we detail in the program below, are some of the activities that will take place in the Miraflores sector in the city of Loja, in the November 5 to 27 at the "Madre Tierra" Festival, Loja.

Programming of the "Mother Earth" Festival. shop.
From November 5 to 27, 2021

Mother Earth Festival. Ñaño House Museum. store
Mother Earth Festival Program. Ñaño House Museum. store
Mother Earth Festival. Ñaño House Museum. store
Mother Earth Festival. Ñaño House Museum. store

Ñaño Casa Museo is located in the Miraflores Bajo sector, streets Inés Jiménez and Rumiñahui (corner).

Some of the activities may require prior reservation. get in touch with Ñaño Achilles for more information.

Sugarcane plantation along the river in Vilcabamba

Vilcabamba trails. Where will they take you today?

Like a network of small paths that sometimes play alongside the rivers and in other cases like a vein that reaches the heart of the mountains that surround the Sacred Valley, these are the paths of Vilcabamba.

When you hear Vilcabamba, one of the first things that come to mind is a lot of nature and a healthy lifestyle.

The trails of Vilcabamba, are without a doubt one of the most recognized destinations by travelers to enjoy a visit to the valley of longevity.

Vilcabamba has a network of trails that goes beyond its spaces as a parish jurisdiction and that also serve as a means of communication for local people.

For those who visit, they are also spaces for landscape delight and complete well-being, since the tranquility and contact with nature that is achieved when you walk through them is worth experiencing.


Sugarcane plantation along the river in Vilcabamba

For nature lovers, they are also an opportunity to meet some of the more than 100 different species of birds that have been recorded in the area, or the way to reach a waterfall or the summit from the famous Mandango hill, Vilcabamba watchtower.



Many of these roads are also called "peasant trails" because even today they are used to move agricultural products and to stock up on others by the rural peasant population of the Vilcabamba area.


For this reason, it is also possible to find different types of domestic animals such as cows, horses, donkeys, even chickens and even rabbits on some of the routes.


Although the trails (especially those that have gone along the water sources) have always been used by the local population, years ago they were delimited as private property, preventing the free transit of both locals and visitors to the sacred valley of Vilcabamba. .

This situation has been changing little by little in recent years; since thanks to the pressure exerted by organized civil society, as is the case of the Eco Club Vilcabamba, the authorities on duty have not been able to ignore what is determined by Ecuadorian legislation and have had to start enforcing the constitution and the laws that govern us.

At the moment there is a legal dispute over the intention of the Loja cantonal council to reduce the width of all the paths that go along the river to 5 meters.

The Vilcabamba EcoClub is one of the citizen organizations that has spoken out in opposition to this measure, which would be detrimental to the general interests of the community.

A complete trail guide around Vilcabamba

A very complete guide that includes routes and specifications of these for walks, and bicycle and motorcycle routes, and that add up to nearly 100 different options are those that are shown on the site. VilcaHike, although the site only appears in English, you can even download the maps and thus facilitate the journey. 

what remains to be done

  1. Signaling: Almost null in several places.
  2. Repairs: They are urgent in different sections, especially in bridges, sidewalks and other wooden goods that need constant maintenance.
  3. Physical security.
  4. Solid waste management
  5. Promotion of responsible use and care of natural spaces


Every week a group of hikers from Vilcabamba get together to explore new routes. Get in touch through this email and find out about the plans for this week and live new experiences in the sacred valley.

The trails of Vilcabamba are, without a doubt, spaces that connect those of us who live in the Sacred Valley with life, as well as for those who visit it.

Coordinated work between local and sectional authorities, private companies and residents of the areas of influence of these trails is really necessary to strengthen the approach that Vilcabamba aspires to have as a tourist destination for nature and well-being in the medium and long term.

The Eco Club Vilcabamba makes ascents to the Mandango hill in Vilcabamba
Art Workshops of the House of Culture in Vilcabamba

Time is Art in Vilcabamba. Artistic Training Workshops.


A wide range of art workshops in Vilcabamba is the proposal that comes to the community thanks to an agreement between the House of Ecuadorian Culture Núcleo de Loja, and the Instituto Superior Tecnológico Loja (Vilcabamba headquarters), which began in the middle of the month October 2021.

The workshops are permanent and will take place until next June 2022 according to planning.

The courses offered include drawing and painting, cinema and stop-motion, guitar, ballet, urban dance, saxophone, theater and circus; In the coming weeks, other art options are expected to open.

Altaira Rojas, coordinator of this program of permanent art workshops in Vilcabamba and a cultural activist, indicates that the programs are important in the context of offering healthy alternatives for human growth for children and young people in the Vilcabamba area and its surroundings, as indicated by Altaira " what we want is for children to make good use of their free time” since “the contents are aimed at developing the creativity of the participants, and strengthening values such as discipline, as well as other skills”, he assures.

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The art workshops will take place on different days of the week and will have a daily duration of one to two hours with a variety of schedules that allow the same student to access more than one workshop and will be held in the modern facilities of the Higher Institute Tecnológico Loja, located in the Yamburara sector, next to the Vilcabamba Zoo.

The program is of a continuous nature and is designed to be carried out throughout a calendar year. The objective, according to Altaira, is that "once the year of activities ends, students will be able to interpret an instrument or create an artistic project depending on of the chosen workshop.

Among the available options of art workshops, and depending on each one and the number of hours you have, the costs vary between 20 to 30 dollars per month, there is also the possibility of scholarships for children with limited economic resources who wish to enroll. ; To access this scholarship program, representatives must go to the Institute, where they must complete an economic evaluation form.

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The target audience for these art workshops is focused on children and young people from Vilcabamba and its surrounding areas. For adult audiences, please contact Altaira (General Coordinator of the Project), through his whatsapp or from the mail

Join Facebook "Art Workshops of the House of Culture in Vilcabamba"

or know more activities of the House of Culture. Loja core

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Lagoon in paramo of Fierro Urco

Art by the water from Vilcabamba

An artistic meeting whose main objective is to reach more people with the message of the need to actively protect water sources from their origin in these times, will take place over two weekends in Vilcabamba.

Mural art, sculpture, music, circus among other artistic expressions is the proposal that a group of groups united for this cause propose for Sundays August 15 and 22 in Vilcabamba.

All the activities will be carried out in the context of the defense of the Fierro Urco páramo (known as the Hydrological Star of the South of Ecuador) today threatened by the Ecuadorian state's intention to develop large-scale mining exploitation in a region of extremely high biological and environmental importance. which is also the birthplace of at least 5 rivers that supply water to important urban centers and numerous agricultural fields.

On Sunday the 15th, the mural artistic intervention will take place, which is expected to start from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and where artists from the Vilcabamba community who wish to join the team of five muralists who arrive from the collective are invited. Ñaño House Museum for this activity. The members of the group, which is based in the city of Loja, have already carried out several interventions in the provincial capital with the same objective: to publicize the reality of the communities threatened by this extractivist intention to intervene in territories where it is born. the water according to Aquiles Salinas, an activist from Ñaño Casa-Museo.#IierroUrcoNoSeToca is the proposal that is born from 19 communities of three parishes of the Loja canton that remain in defense of the great corridor of Fierro Urco and its water sources.

And for Sunday, August 22, a cultural and artistic morning is planned where first an Andean blessing of the mural will be held and then it will be possible to enjoy different expressions of art.

This event is also intended to be an instrument that allows strengthening the call for attention by the public towards the relevant authorities of the Loja canton to comply with the provisions of the "Resolution to protect water sources, wetlands, forests and recharge areas and water regulation" also known as the declaration of Loja, free metal mining that is two years old since it was signed this coming August 27, but in practice there is little progress in the field to make it really functional, according to Andrea Cucalón of the Collective SOS Violence-Loja, another of the organizations that support the processes of the communities in defense of water and life.

Similarly, Roberto Domínguez of the EcoClub Vilcabamba extends the invitation so that people continue to consider Vilcabamba as a destination of nature, well-being culture and that also joins the defense of life processes.

The event will take place on the side street of the church (back block) in front of the pizzeria "La Caseta"


Birds of Vilcabamba

Birds of Vilcabamba. Part 1.


The Vilcabamba area itself is home to hundreds of species of birds. Only in the RumiWilco reserve more than 120 species are reported; This number of Vilcabamba birds undoubtedly grows due to the proximity to the Podocarpus National Park, where bird records exceed 600 species, that is, more than a third of the total number of birds reported in all of Ecuador.


Discover some of the birds of Vilcabamba
1st part


There are only a few minutes left in silence in the surroundings of the central part of Vilcabamba or even in it so that with a little attention you can begin to enjoy the sound of dozens of different species of birds that are common to hear in the various places of the so-called Sacred Valley. in the province of Loja in southern Ecuador. Learn to identify them.


Plumbeous Rail

(Pardirallus sanguinolentus) 1.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22373″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Zonas húmedas como lagos, pantanos, tranqueras y humedales[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Es de tamaño mediano, con plumaje negras en todo su cuerpo. Su pico puede ser de diferentes colores en sus patas tiene garras afiladas con las que busca su alimento en las orillas de lagos, ríos y arroyos.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Peruvian Mochuelo / Peruvian – pygmy Owl

(Glaucidium peruanum) 2.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22379″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Bosques y matorrales (deciduos, secos y húmedos).[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Son de hábito especialmente nocturno. Se alimentan de invertebrados y pequeños vertebrados[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Loja Hummingbird / Loja Hummingbird

(Amazilia alticola) 3.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22383″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Bosques nublado y matorral abierto.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Son territoriales y muy competitivos. Se alimentan del néctar de las flores que a su vez polinizan.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Golden Olivi Woodpecker / Golden olive Woodpecker

(Colaptes rubiginosus) 4.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22387″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Bosques montañosos (donde generalmente se alimenta) aunque es mayormente observado en matorrales abiertos.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Se alimenta de hormigas, termitas, escarabajos y otros insectos, en ocasiones toma frutas y bayas.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Elegant Crescent Chest / Elegant Crescent Chest

(Melanopareia elegans) 5 and 6.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22389″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Matorrales áridos densos y bosques secos, hasta los 2300 m.s.n.m.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Puede medir unos 15 cm. Se distribuye por las costas y regiones bosques secos Ecuador y norte de Perú.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Eared Dove / Eared Dove

(Zenaida auriculata) 7.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22392″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Zona de bosques, matorrales y páramos andinos.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Realizan un canto muy peculiar y muy distinto a otras aves. Las hembras cantan en el momento previo a alimentar a sus crías y el canto del macho  es mas fuerte y entonado.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Apical Dove / White-tipped Dove

(Leptotila verreauxi) 8.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22397″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Zona de bosques, matorrales y páramos andinos.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Realizan un canto muy peculiar y muy distinto a otras aves. Las hembras cantan en el momento previo a alimentar a sus crías y el canto del macho  es mas fuerte y entonado.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Squirrel Cuckoo / Squirrel Cuckoo

(Piaya Cayana) 9.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22400″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Viven al interior de los bosques andinos.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Se alimenta de insectos, como cigarras o chicharras, avispas y orugas, arañas, lagartijas y en ocasiones frutas. En ocasiones buscan alimento junto con otras especies de aves.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Calandria Dorso Amarillo / Yellow backed oriole

(Icterus mesomelas) 10.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”22402″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][info_list font_size_icon=”24″ eg_br_width=”1″][info_list_item list_title=”Habitat” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]En bosques secos y matorrales. Se lo reporta en la zona de la Reserva de RumiWilco.[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Estado de conservación” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Preocupación menor[/info_list_item][info_list_item list_title=”Otros datos” list_icon=”Defaults-check”]Es una de las mas reconocidas aves de Vilcabamba. Incluso en la comunidad existe una escuela con su nombre.

Cuando son jóvenes esta especie puede presentar un plumaje de color verde oliva en lugar de amarillo.[/info_list_item][/info_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Es importante recordar que como una de las acciones para poder sostener los ecosistemas que incluyen estas y otras decenas de especies de aves, es importante proteger las fuentes de agua. Uno de los casos que mantienen la atención ciudadana por  ejemplo es el de la Iron Urco protection frente a las amenazas mineras en puntos de nacimiento de agua.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_zigzag color=”mulled_wine” el_width=”40″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]REFERENCIAS[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

  1. Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Pardirallus sanguinolentus In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  2. Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Glaucidium peruanum In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  3. Image taken from
  4. Olmedo, I 2019. Colaptes rubiginosus In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  5. Olmedo, I 2019. Melanopareia elegans In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  6. Image taken from
  7. Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Zenaida auriculata In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  8. Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Leptotila verreauxi In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  9. Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Piaya Cayana In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
  10. Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Icterus mesomelas In: Freile, JF, Poveda, C. 2019. Birds of Ecuador. Version 2019.0. Zoology Museum, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador., access Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

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Lagoons in the Fierro Urco mountain range - Loja 

Fierro Urco, at the forefront of the defense of water in southern Ecuador

Fierro Urco: between life and large-scale mining

The Fierro Urco mountain range and its foothills is a territory where magic, natural charm and cultural and biological wealth are mixed.

Located between the provinces of Loja and El Oro, it covers more than 70,000 hectares. forming a páramo ecosystem of the low Andes. Today, it is seriously threatened by the mining concessions that the Ecuadorian state offers as a "development alternative" to the peoples and communities that inhabit it.


We spoke with Víctor Macas, President of the Association of Indigenous and Peasant Communities of Tenta, Celén and Selva Alegre, which leads one of the fronts to defend the territory, water sources and culture of its people: the Saraguro against what they call “threats from mining activities”.

 Víctor is a native of the San Vicente community of the Selva Alegre parish, which is located in the Western Cordillera of the Andes, he has seen and knows firsthand the profound changes that affect the social structure of the communities found in regions of mining activity.

In total there are 19 communities from these three parishes that remain in defense of the great corridor of Fierro Urco, "since at that time it is under concession for large-scale mining," says Víctor.

The process of defending this important source of water sources against the "mining threat" began more than five years ago, in 2015. Víctor recalls that there was "strong repression in Saraguro precisely because of this resistance process, which It is the same one that we now insist on, we do not want mining in our wasteland”.

“We are clear that this is a long fight and we hope that at some point these mining claims will be appeased, that they will no longer continue. So maybe we will rest there, but otherwise we will continue there. ” He reflects in a convinced tone of this cause that he has had to work in his life.


Biodiversity in the Fierro Urco corridor includes:

700 plant species

160 bird species

50 species of mammals

17 species of amphibians

The cities of Loja, Machala, Santa Rosa, Pasaje, Zaruma, Portovelo are direct beneficiaries (both of drinking water and irrigation water systems) of the river systems that originate in Fierro Urco, specifically in the area that intends to be intervened by open pit mining activities.

What is at stake in Fierro Urco?

FierroUrco is part of a dozen places in Ecuador that are concessioned for mining and that are sources and springs of water, as well as protective forests and buffer zones that serve as life zones for dozens of bird species and mammals.

"" in the heart of the eminent FierroUrco, where the first ray of the sun kisses the icy hair of the waters of the South"" 

According to the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America on its website it describes:

“4 important tributaries for an entire productive and wildlife region are born from the Fierro Urco páramo, it is called by its defenders as the Water Star of the South.

In this area is the Siriquiña Lagoon where 3 fundamental rivers for the area originate: on the Saraguro side, the Llaco River is born, which reaches La Papaya and flows into the Jubones River, on the Loja side, the river Guayabal; in El Oro the San Luis river is born, which goes to Portovelo.


The importance of the aquifer systems of the Fierro Urco corridor (the "Water Star of the South of Ecuador") is so great that there is a proposal from various organizations to declare it a "Water Protection Zone" since the rivers are born here: Guayabal , Santiago, Tenta, San Luis and Ambocas, which make up the Catamayo, Santiago, Jubones and Puyango basins and supply irrigation and drinking water to thousands of people.



Water defenders prosecuted in Fierro Urco. Mining Ecuador

As in other cases of defense of “living spaces” territories and water sources against claims of mining exploitation, persecution, threats, and imprisonment are some of the repercussions that occur towards people.

Fierro Urco is no exception and in this regard, Víctor Macas states: "we are convinced that it is a strategy from the government that they use because they intend to intimidate or threaten us, but this does not scare us and we are going to continue fighting." and referring to the case of the four water defenders detained in 2020, he assures: "Regarding the cases of the detained compañeros, we have already had to work for their defense and well, we have the case of Gualel, in which four compañeros were detained, but now they are free and we hope the persecution will stop.

Jovita, Salomón, Jhon and Manuel are the 4 most recent heroes in the defense of water and life in the moors from a list that includes dozens of people who have been persecuted and prosecuted for several years for their actions in defense of life. and the water in the Fierro Urco corridor.


There are several direct actions that various groups and organizations that defend human rights and nature have been taking for about 5 years.

The Association of Indigenous and Peasant Communities of Tenta, Celén and Selva Alegre, which brings together the bases of the parishes in defense of water, has also been carrying out its part, which includes everything from sit-ins and marches to training and support activities for families of farmers and of communities in general.

  1. Reforestation: Víctor Macas states that during 2020 the people of the communities reforested more than 4,000 native trees at different altitudes. Care and maintenance is also carried out through mingas.
  2. Knowledge transmission: “….on the subject of education, for example, the relationship between these places with us as energy points and our apus as our places of healing. In the same way we are working on the rescue and strengthening of some knowledge that was being lost (both in food and culture, for example). It is the legacy that we want to leave to our generations to come” Víctor tells us.

3. Visits to the moor: Although the people of the communities carry out surveillance visits to the territory on a constant basis, these visits are open to the general public ONCE EVERY MONTH, with the aim of finding allies and making the community aware of the beauty and charm of these aquifer systems. and the biodiversity of the area. If you wish to participate in a visit cContact Victor to coordinate the next available.

4. Agroecology: Through the transmission and exchange of knowledge and experiences. They need to be strengthened as well.

5. Tourism: There are dozens of sites around the communities that are worth knowing and enjoying contact with the natural life of the equatorial Andes. The visits have been specific and it is one of the alternatives in which advances are sought for the families of the communities.

I want to be part of the process of defending the paramos and the water sources of the Fierro Urco mountain range. 

What I can do?

  • Follow on Facebook to the support platforms for the peoples of Fierro Urco
  • Share this article
  • Go ahead and visit the Fierro Urco moorland with your family and friends. To coordinate and know information for the next available visit or send a message of support Contact Victor Macas
  • Talk to your friends about the importance of various cities in southern Ecuador in the Fierro Urco mountain range as a source of water supply.
  • share the hashtag #IierroUrcoNoSeToca

The process of the peoples of the Fierro Urco mountain range shares with women and elders the joy of defending water and life in the moors in southern Ecuador.