GPS Track Details
Difficulty: 5/5 - Very hard
Track length: 350.67 Kilometers
Total Ascent: 9315 Meters
Total Descent: 9262 Meters

E-1  Loop Vilcabamba - Saraguro - Yacuambi - Zamora – Vilcabamba

Distance                     350 km             

Time                           2 days

Altitude min/max     851 m – 3370 m

Ascent                        8305 m

Descent                      8255 m

Rating                         Very Difficult!!  5/5  Harsh, muddy trails, windy paramo

Start                           Vilcabamba bus terminal

End                             Vilcabamba bus terminal

This trip suits the more adventurous of the Moto cyclists. It’s still sort of a Pioneer route on an only recently opened road, following an ancient cattle trail, where the Saraguro people used to herd their livestock from Saraguro heartland across the Cordillera Oriental to the abundant pastures of the Oriente in the Rio Yacuambi valley. Via the Amazonic Highway (Troncal Amazónica N° 45) and Zamora, you recross the Cordillera Oriental back to Loja. Since you are crossing the high, wind & weather exposed Paramo, you should be well equipped and only try it in dry, stable weather conditions.

Route: Leave Vilcabamba on the northern highway to Loja and follow the Panamericana Norte direction to Cuenca. (Once the western detour-Highway in Loja is completed, you don’t have to enter the town at all.) If you like gravel roads, you alternatively could use the old Cuenca Highway (Via Antigua Cuenca-Loja), leaving Loja via the Suburb Sauces Norte, along Rio Zamora. This old road joins the new Panamericana 37 km out of Loja in the Saraguro-Village of San Lucas. 22 km further on, you reach the town of Saraguro. The gravel adventure starts 10.5 km from Saraguro, past the Barrio Urdaneta in a 180° left hand bend of the Panamericana. For 4.5 hours from here, you will not come across any settlement and be left to yourself, since there is hardly any traffic. The road trail now climbs 23 km to the highest point (3370 m) on this track. Way above the timber line, you pass the windswept grassy Paramo and the occasional Laguna left and right. After rains, (and that is often) the road gets very boggy with the heavy black clay. From the highest point, the trail drops sharply almost 2000 meters with dramatic changes of the Landscape. The treeless Paramo soon gives way to dense, moss covered rainforest then to the lush abundant Amazonic vegetation.

At the bottom of the steep drop, we cross the Rio Yacuambi, and 4 km later, get to the sizable town of Yacuambi of mainly Saraguro population. It’s a bit surprising, to find this mountain people in this hot, humid environment of the Amazonic region. 42 Kilometers from Yacuambi, along the green lush valley, the Rio Yacuambi joins Rio Zamora, and our road the Amazonic Highway. In half an hour we reach the town of Zamora, 25 km away. From Zamora, Loja can be reached in just over an hour, recrossing the eastern Andean range again. 






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