I was quite pleasantly surprised by Vilca. I’d heard about it a bit, but I found it hard to see many places competing with Cuenca. Vilca is very different from Cuenca though, with the forests there, and the general vibe, and being much, much smaller. I also think it’s fair to describe the Vilca scene as being quite an alternative one. There’s definitely some kind of scene there.
One other thing that works in Vilca’s favor is the proximity of Loja, about an hour away. Loja seems a good city to go spend a day in, and one can pick up a few things from the supermarket or whatever. Information about Loja nomad cafes can be found here.
As far as nomad cafes in Vilca itself, vistors should be in good shape.
MestizoMestizo is a good place to start. The physical setup is very good, with some seats right on the plaza, an indoor section with outlets, and a back garden (part of which is in the picture above). Good coffee as well, and some super ceramic mugs to drink it out of. There are also events here sometimes, such as live music, and there was an open mike night on Mondays. You will have check what the latest schedule is. The hours here are 8am to 3pm every day, except Saturdays when they go till 11pm, and Wednesdays and Thursdays when they are closed.
United Falafel Organization (UFO)UFO here also has a great physical setup, with some seats right on the plaza, an indoor section with outlets, and a back garden. As the readers can probably figure, this is also the spot to hook up some falafels and other Middle-Eastern foods. Hours are from 11am to 8-8:30 every day, except for Saturdays and Sundays when they open at 9am, and Mondays and Tuesdays when they are closed.
Hosteria ParaisoParaiso is one of a number of full-service accomodation places in Vilca, with restaurant, pool, etc. Also, I must draw attention to the pyramid they have thoughtfully included (which can be seen in the background above), apparently used for massages and healing sessions. When I first came here to check it out, one lady was really very welcoming, showing me where the outlets were. The cafe con leche was just a buck, and she brought a pot which held enough for 3 cups. Sometimes they have groups here doing workshops, and if you see such a group, you should just skip it and go somewhere else. I don’t believe they have very set hours, but they are open all day and into the evening.
Hosteria IzhcaylumaIzhcayluma is a bit further out, with a full restaurant, and lovely grounds. I would get a taxi going there, up the hill, for $1.50, and have a pleasant 25 minute or so walk coming back. It’s a good place to have lunch as well. Note that there is kind of a computer alcove you can retire to with your coffee, after eating. You can’t see it in this picture, but it’s over to the left. Again, this is one of those places that is open basically all day, every day.
Word to the Wise: The Heart of the WoodI give a lot of the credit for my great stay in Vilca to the Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve, where I stayed for my entire time. As the name suggests, the cabins are actually situated in a nature reserve, which is certainly not where I am normally situated. I loved it. It’s pretty rustic, but I didn’t mind that. All the stuff in the kitchen worked, and some people were really dishing up some feasts. The power and wifi were mostly good as well (but sometimes the router needs to be reset). The Vilca plaza is just about a 15 minute walk away, going alongside a rushing river. You also have full access the reserve itself, day or night, and there are very few other hikers, and no dogs. This was just wonderful. I wish I could stay in places like this more often. There’s plenty of places to stay way out in nature. But a place which is a pleasant 15 minute walk away from a bunch of cafes and restaurants? And for a very reasonable cost? That is indeed a bit rarer.
Enjoy your stay in Vilcabamba!