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by Anita Evans
Vilcabamba Ecuador, August 2010
There is a very good bus service that runs between Vilcabamba and Loja. During the
day it runs every 15 minutes. Depending on traffic and the number of stops they
have to make, the trip can take from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. The cost is $1 per person
each way to Loja. After about 7pm the service runs every hour. I come from NZ where
our public transport system is shocking. I have been very impressed with the Vilcabamba
bus service. The buses are pretty clean too.
They have a driver and a conductor who collects the money and ushers people on and
off. If you want to get the bus and are not at the bus terminal then just stand
on the side of the main road (in the direction you want to go) and wave the bus
down as it approaches you. Be prepared to jump on fast!!! These guys are on a tight
time frame and they only just stop to pick up passengers. There are no bus stops.
The bus only travels along the main road. When you want to get off you just let
the conductor know and the bus will stop for you. The locals just yell "gracias"
from their seat and the bus stops there and then. Again be prepared to jump off
The bus goes via Malacatos which is a little longer
than the route that the taxis would take via Taxiche. You can catch it on Sunday
if you want to visit the Malacatos markets and it costs around 30c to 40c per person
each way to Malacatos. Be careful when getting the bus back to Vilcabamba from Malacatos
as they stop in the same place in both directions, not on opposite sides of the
road as you'd expect. For going back to Vilcabamba, make sure the bus you get on
is facing down the hill away from the church
otherwise you will find yourself on your way to Loja as a friend of mine did.
I personally enjoy catching the bus. I meet a lot of interesting local people and
it's a good time to practice your Spanish. Generally I'm the only gringo on the
bus. At times, I appear to be a bit of a novelty to the locals. A gringo taking
the bus. I get nice smiles. I'd like to see more gringos on the bus with me ' so
come ' get out of your cars, forget the taxi, mix with the locals, live dangerously,
take the bus.
The best stop to get off in Loja is the one that is just before the gas station.
This is the stop that most of the people on the bus will get off at. If you head
down the hill from this stop you will come to the river and then to 18 de Noviembre.
This is the closest stop to the Parque Central in Loja.
The next best stop to get off is the bus terminal itself. However, you will have
to get a taxi for $1 to the Parque Central Loja as it's a bit far to walk to from
the bus terminal.
The buses get really full and they'll cram you in like sardines in a tin can.
When leaving Loja on the bus, especially if it is late afternoon, it is advisable
to go to the bus station in Loja and get on the bus there. That way, you have a
better chance of getting a seat. If you get on at any other stop along the route
then you take the chance of not having a seat and having to stand for the entire
ride back to Vilcabamba if you can get on at all. It is a hard, bumpy, twisty trip
to be standing all the way back to Vilcabamba.
I'd recommend you take an experienced bus rider with you the first time you take
the bus so they can show you the stops.
The Trans Vilcamixto Taxi service operates here in Vilcabamba.
They use very tidy comfortable pick up trucks (called "camionetas" here). To get
anywhere within a 1km radius of Vilcabamba is a $1 one way. Izhcayluma for example
is 2kms from the centre and cost $1.50 to $2 one way. They stop operating around
10pm at night. After that you'll have to walk home.
You can use them for longer distances as well. A taxi to Loja will cost you $15
and to the airport will cost you $25 (one way).We have even used them once to go
to Peru (Piura) and it cost us $150 for a one way trip (we paid the driver's lunch
and we ended up having to pay for a room for him as he could not get backl on the
same day because of delays on the road). When you share among 4 to 6 people it is
not so bad and much faster than the buses.
Telephone: (07) 2640 044 Mobile: 093908510
Cooperativa De Transporte Mixto Vilcabamba Experss Taxi service
operates here in Vilcabamba. They use very tidy comfortable ute (flat beds) too.
Their focus is taking people to Loja and back. They charge $3 per person and take
several people in their cabs. There location is marked at T2 on the Vilcabamba
The yellow cabs (no blue stripe) operate diagonally across
the road to the bus terminal. They only go to Loja and do not take people around
Vilcabamba. They charge $15 one way to Loja.
The yellow cabs with a blue stripe. These cabs operate from
the bus terminal. They charge $1.50 per person. You share the taxi with up to 5
people. They only go to Loja and do not take people around Vilcabamba. Don't take
them unless you're desperate. The drivers of these cabs have a death wish. Their
location is marked at T4 on the Vilcabamba Map