GPS Track Details
Difficulty: 4/5 - Hard
Track length: 65.25 Kilometers
Total Ascent: 2788 Meters
Total Descent: 1612 Meters

C-1.0  Vilcabamba - Purunuma - Plaza Del Inca

Distance         65 km              (130 km round trip)

Time               3.5 hours         (7 hours round trip)

Altitude          1330 m – 2875 m

Ascent            2515 m

Descent          2180 m

Rating             Hard 4/5  (Depending on the season, washed out logging roads)

Start               Vilcabamba tourist office

End                 Plaza Del Inca

This trip leads us via Malacatos & Purunuma on one of the many ridges of the western Cordillera, parallel to the legendary Royal Inca trail, which used to connect the northern Inca capital of Quito with the heartland of the Inca Empire in Cusco, southern Peru. According to the OSM maps, the last leg of the trip leads through the northern tip of the Yacuri national park. The ruins at the Plaza del Inca are far from spectacular and hardly recognizable, but the ride in itself, along lonely logging roads, and the spectacular views, make the trip worthwhile. To the east, you have the views towards the Cordillera Oriental with the PN Podocarpus and to the west & south, the countless ridges of the Cordillera Occidental including the prominent Cerro Ahuaca, towering over the town of Carriamanga.

Route:             Follow the Loja-highway to the north across the Cararango-pass to Malacatos. In Malacatos turn left at the second traffic light onto the Malacatos-Tambo road. Past Malacatos, you pass the Barrio Ceibopamba and the new leisure park Vista Bella. At km 17 from Vilcabamba, leave the sealed road and turn left onto the gravel road to Purunuma. Descend 4.5 km to the Rio Catamayio, cross the river, then a 16 km climb past the Barrio Chiquil brings you up to the pass & Shrine Huacaca at 2335 m. 2.5 km later, you reach the secluded village of Purunuma. At the hillside end of the village, turn left. (Don’t follow the Gonzanama-road). Through Eucalyptus forests, pastures and small farms, you reach 8 km out of Purunuma an intersection. The right branch leads down to the town of Quilanga, but we take the left branch to the Plaza del Inca. Even though there is no sign indicating it, at this point we are entering the northern tip of the newly created 43’000 hectare Parque National Yacuri. The last 17 kilometers to the Plaza del Inca are the most rewarding leg of the trip, with spectacular views all around. From the parking place in front of a road gate, it’s a 5 minute walk to the Inca ruins. As mentioned before, don’t expect too much of the ruins themselves. Depending on the season, the road beyond the gate might be passable for another 5 km towards Cerro Colambo / Yacuri at 3125 m.




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