GPS Track Details
Difficulty: 3/5 - Medium
Track length: 125.99 Kilometers
Total Ascent: 2843 Meters
Total Descent: 2799 Meters

D-2.0  Loop Vilcabamba - Tambo - Catamayo - Villonaco - Loja – Vilcabamba

Distance                     126 km             

Time                           4.00 hours

Altitude min/max     1175 m – 2605 m

Ascent                        3090 m

Descent                      3050 m

Rating                         Moderate

Start                           Vilcabamba bus station

End                             Vilcabamba bus station

This route follows the back road from Malacatos via Tambo to Catamayo, then via costal highway and the old road to the wind power project of Villonaco. Back to Vilcabamba we use the new Via Lateral, to avoid entering Loja town altogether. There are projects to upgrade & asphalt the Malacatos-Tambo- Catamayo road, which would make the access from Vilcabamba to the Catamayo-Toma airport much more convenient and faster. But for the time being, the Malacatos-Tambo leg still is very rough and bumpy to suit the gravel-lovers.

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-Catamayo road. Past Malacatos you pass the Barrio Ceibopamba and the new leisure park Bella Vista. The first leg, past the Purunuma junction is still sealed, but soon gives way to a washed out gravel road. The only bigger hamlet on this stretch is the Barrio La Merced, which even has a church of their own. Near the Hamlet of La Era, you pass the new big Solar power Park. Tambo is another one of this small secluded country towns, but by know accessed by a sealed, upgraded road from Catamayo. The climate here is noticeably hotter & dryer, than on the Loja-side of the ridge. Passing through a semi-desert landscape, suddenly the striking green, vast sugar cane fields of the Catamayo plain come into the view. Past the sugar plain and the La Toma airport, we approach Catamayo, a town of 22’000. If you’re not interested to visit the city, you can bypass the Centre on the southwestern highway. From the hot & dry plain of Catamayo, we ascend via the Panamericana coastal road and the old Loja road, (the Old road turnoff is well signalised), the 1300 meters to the cool & windswept Villonaco ridge with its 11 huge wind power turbines at 2600 m. From Villonaco, the road winds down via the Loja suburb Tierras Colorados to the Shrine La Urna de Chonta Cruz, where we join the new Via lateral Loja and the street signs that lead us back to the Loja Vilcabamba road at Capuli. Beware!! Should you decide to turn towards Loja from Capuli, there is a nasty speed trap, which can make you with a blink of an eye for 350 shiny US dollars poorer.   





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