GPS Track Details
Difficulty: 3/5 - Medium
Track length: 36.49 Kilometers
Total Ascent: 230 Meters
Total Descent: 1430 Meters

3.0 Cajanuma, Podocarpus downhill

Distance         36.5 km          

Time Bike       3.50 hours

Altitude          1430 m – 2800 m

Ascent            300 m

Descent          1500 m

Rating             Moderate / Difficult   3-4 / 5 (Depending on weather-& road conditions)

Start               Chinos bike shop Vilcabamba

End                 Chinos bike shop Vilcabamba


This classical downhill run in two stages, starts at the refugio (centro Administrativo Cajanuma) at 2780m, inside the NP Podocarpus. It can also be combined with a visit of the short interpretive hiking trails within the rainforest section of the park. The second leg consists of the recently upgraded & promoted “Caxarumi Sendero Ecologico”, from the Cajanuma-entrance to the Barrio Rumizhitana, on the Malacatos-Loja Road, then on along the highway to Landangui & Taxiche. When entering the national park, you have to register with the park authorities, (there is no entrance fee, but you have to produce a copy of your passport).

Don’t be fooled by the nice & warm weather of Vilcabamba. It can be windy & wet in the rainforest of Podocarpus National park! Equip yourself accordingly. 

The trip is best arranged by Chinos Bike shop, which also rents out bikes & helmets.

Route:                                After exploring the park around the centro Administrativo Cajanuma, you are ready for the first 8 km leg of the downhill run to the Park entrance Cajanuma. At first, you still pass through rainforest section of the park, later, on a fair day, you get impressive views down on the valley of the Malacatos-river with the winding highway below, and the western cordillera beyond. To the north, you get some birds eye glimpses of Loja town. You leave the actual Park before getting to the control post on the highway, passing Pine reforestations and dairy-farms.

After checking out with the park guards, you pass through the impressing Entrance gate of the “Caxarumi Sendero Ecologico”. In a couple of switchbacks the trail descends past some chicken- & pig farms (you can tell by the smell) to the still small Rio Malacatos to the laid back Barrio “Lindembergh”, with its little church & school. Shortly after the Barrio, the vehicle-road ends and gives way to a smaller trail, with a small bridge across a tributary of Rio Malacatos. In one spot, the exposed trail is cut into the gray rock above the river, then crosses several wood bridges, one of them, the roofed “Puente Ermita” looks quite interesting. All along the trail you find the scattered houses of Pueblo Nuevo, many of them abandoned and in ruins. Eventually you reach the Barrio “Las tres Leguas” with its church spectacularly suspended above a gorge. From “Las tres Leguas” it is another 2.5 level kilometers to the end of the trail at Rumizhitana. To continue, you have to ascend past the church to the Malacatos-Loja highway above. Seven, mostly downhill kilometers along the highway, gets you to Landangui the place lined with the many Chancho (pork) restaurants. Here, turn left for the Taxiche shortcut for Vilcabamba. To the junction of the Malacatos-Vilcabamba road at Taxiche, it’s another level four kilometers.

Here, you have to decide, whether you still want to cycle the half hour, 200 altitude meter climb to the Cararango pass and enjoy another 200 meter downhill run to Vilcabamba, or you want to save yourself the effort by calling a taxi to get you back to Vilcabamba.      





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