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You are here:5.2.2.7 Vilcabamba and Zolanda

5.2.2.7 Vilcabamba and Zolanda

The “Sacred Valley” of Vilcabamba is located in the province of Loja and is known for its climate, quite surroundings and lovely views. Located only some 42 km from the city of Loja, Vilcabamba is a popular town to spend weekend and holidays. The enchanted valley has been reputed to have beneficial effects on the health and life span of human beings. That is the reason why it has been also name as the Valley of Longevity.

Vilcabamba valley and its surroundings are a small example of the Tumbesian dry forest and scrub. If your trip doesn’t go to the western lowlands the valley will provide you with the opportunity to look for some of Tumbesian endemics shared only with adjacent Perú.

The birding areas are located at an elevation of 1450 to 1600 meters. 

 

Habitat.

Andean Montane Scrub, Tropical Deciduous Forest

 

Logistics.

Vilcabamba and Zolanda

No special arrangements are needed to visit the birding areas near Vilcabamba. There are plenty of buses running from Loja to Vilcabamba.  To get to Vilcabamba you can take the Vilcabamba bound bus from Loja. Should you take a bus to Vilcambamba you can hire a pickup truck to access the birding areas. A four wheel drive vehicle is not necessary, but a high clearance one is.  There are many places to stay in town and they can suit almost any kind of budget.  Information regarding places to stay can be obtained at www.vilcabamba.org (accommodations).  A good choice is Hostería de Vilcabamba that could be reached calling the phones: (07) 2640 271 / 272 / 273.  All the birding areas in Vilcabamba have free access.

 

Birding.

Vilcabamba and Zolanda

If you are continuing from your visit to Cajanuma entrance to Podocarpus National Park, please see the birding instructions in that respective subchapter on how to get here.

Starting at the Cajanuma entrance to Podocarpus NP on the Loja-Vilcabamba Highway, 0.0 km, continue toward Vilcabamba and drive for 16.9 km.  At this point you will get to the small town of Landangui, and there will be a side road on your left.  Take this side road exiting to the left to avoid going through Malacatos, and save some driving time.  Drive on this side road 2.6 km, or 19.5 km from Cajanuma.  Here you will pass through a small town where, in case of any doubt, you should stay along the main road on the left.  Drive 0.3 km, or 19.8 km from Cajanuma.  At this point you will get to an intersection.  The right hand fork goes to Malacatos, and the left one heads to Vilcabamba.  Take the turn to the left and drive for 6.6 km, or 26.4 km from Cajanuma.  Here you will cross a bridge before arriving at Vilcabamba.

Continuing on for 0.1 km, or 26.5 km from Cajanuma, and you will see a dirt road on the right. At the beginning of this side road you will see the driveway that enters the Hostería de Vilcabamba.  This is one of the places recommended for lodging and to look for West Peruvian Screech-Owl, Stygian Owl and Plumbeous Rail on its grounds. 

This side road is the one to take to visit the Zolanda Deciduous Forest.

(Click here to download Map. Vilcabamba Valley and Zolanda)

Continuing along this highway 1.2 km, or 27.7 km from Cajanuma you will arrive at Vilcabamba.  The main plaza will be a couple of blocks ahead on the left.  This plaza will be the point of reference to continue traveling toward Cerro Toledo and Tapichalaca.

                            

To visit Zolanda Deciduous Forest and returning to Hosteria de Vilcabamba on the side road reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future reference.   The irrigated sugar cane fields on the right side of this road are a good place to look for Plumbeous Rail

Drive along this dirt road for 4.4 km.  At this point you will arrive at a split in the road.  Here you should stay on the road to the right.  Drive on for 6.5 km, or 10.9 km from the highway.  Here you will be driving along a narrow valley with a river on your right. You will also see a bridge for pedestrians across the river.  Park here and walk across the river.  Once in the far side, turn to your right and follow the river downstream for a short distance.  At this point you will see an obvious trail following up a dry river bed on your left.  As you walk up along the dry river bed you can see the Acacia dominated Dry Forest on both sides of the dry creek. You can continue up for 1.2 km from the flowing river.  The forest on your right belongs to Hacienda Zolanda, but you will be birding along its edge.  This dry forest is home for: Croaking Ground-Dove, Pacific Parrotlet, Pacific Pygmy-Owl, Amazilia Hummingbird, Purple-collared Woodstar, Ecuadorian Piculet, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Collared Antshrike, Elegant Crescentchest, Tumbesian Tyrannulet, Torrent Tyrannulet, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-olive Flatbill, Boat-billed Flycatcher, White-tailed Jay, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Plumbeous-backed Thrush, Fasciated Wren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Streaked Saltator, Southern Yellow-Grosbeak, Yellow-tailed Oriole and Thick-billed Euphonia.

The greener forest beginning at 1.0 km from the flowing river is a place to look for Three-banded Warbler.

Once you have returned to your vehicle, you can back track your steps to Vilcabamba, or continue on another 13.9 km to loop back to the highway entrance, which is 10.5 km east of Vilcabamba.   From here you drive on to Tapichalaca or Cerro Toledo.

 

Birds to look for

Vilcabamba and Zolanda

Dry Mountain Scrub (DMS), Deciduous Forest (DF), Rivers (R).

Common: Eared   Dove (DMS,DF), Croaking Ground-Dove (DMS,DF), Groove--billed Ani (DMS), West   Peruvian Screech-Owl (DMS,DF), Pacific Pygmy-Owl (DMS,DF), Amazilia Hummingbird (DMS,DF), Southern   Beardless-Tyrannulet (DMS,DF), Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant (DMS,DF), Common Tody-Flycatcher (DMS,DF), Yellow-olive Flatbill (DMS,DF), Black Phoebe (R), Vermilion Flycatcher (DMS,DF), Fasciated Wren (DMS,DF), Bananaquit (DMS,DF), Blue-gray Tanager (DMS,DF), Palm Tanager (DMS,DF), Streaked Saltator (DMS,DF), Dull-colored Grassquit (DMS), Thick-billed Euphonia (DMS,DF).

Uncommon: Pacific   Parrotlet (DMS,DF), Purple-collared Woodstar (DMS,DF), Scarlet-backed Woodpecker (DF), Collared Antshrike (DMS,DF), Elegant Crescentchest (DMS,DF), Tumbesian Tyrannulet (DMS,DF), Torrent Tyrannulet (R), Boat-billed Flycatcher (DF), White-tailed Jay (DF), Rufous-browed Peppershrike   (DMS,DF), Tropical Gnatcatcher (DMS,DF), Southern Yellow-Grosbeak (DMS,DF), Dull-colored Grassquit (DMS), Yellow-tailed Oriole (DMS,DF),

Rare: Stygian   Owl, Ecuadorian Piculet (DF), Plumbeous-backed Thrush (DF), Three-banded Warbler (DF).

Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.

 

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