GPS Track Details
Difficulty: 4/5 - Hard
Track length: 11.92 Kilometers
Total Ascent: 420 Meters
Total Descent: 1869 Meters


A-3.1    Yamburara alto - Refugio "Las Palmas" - PN Podocarpus

Distance         7.9 km             (15.8 km return)

Time               3.5 hours         (7 hours return)

Altitude          1560m - 2400m

Ascent            850m

Descent          110m

Rating            Hard   4/5

Start               Yamburara alto

End                 PN Podocarpus

Refugio Las Palmas is located within a private nature reserve belonging to Charlie & Sarah Nodine. If you plan to stay in the Refugio, you have to contact them at Cabañas Rio Yambala:

Refugio Las Palmas nowadays is the only feasible access to the Podocarpus lake region (Laguna Rabadilla de Vaca) on the Vilcabamba side of the Park.

Built in 1991, this is the oldest of the Vilcabamba’s Refugios.

“The refuge, a rustic but ecologically friendly structure, was built in a traditional way, a type of wattle and daub called "bareque". Now in need of renovation we recommend tents for sleeping, while the refuge kitchen and bathroom can still be used. A decline in tourism and the change of atmosphere in Vilcabamba has led to a decline in visitors to the park. While the tourist infrastructure suffers, the forest remains protected and equally spectacular to all visitors.”  “Charlie & Sarah”      

If you take a taxi for the 4 km’s to the trailhead at Yamburara alto ($ 3.-), you save yourself one hour hike.

Route: The trail starts at the small concrete bridge crossing Rio Yambala which has a sign pointing to PN Podocarpus. Across the river follow the well-trodden uphill trail to the ridge, which you reach in about 15 minutes. In another half an hour, you get to a green metal-gate branching to the left. (Don’t follow the path uphill to the right!) The now level trail passes first a Finca on the right hand side, shortly after another one on the left.  About 45 minutes after the metal-gate, you reach the small stream El Palto (which forms the waterfall below, another tourist spot). Cross the stream, pass through the farming gate and continue uphill. 25 minutes later you find the remnants of a wooden trail sign at a fork. The uphill trail to the right leads to the Refugio AVETUR, but we follow the level trail to the left. About 800 meters later, the trail drops steeply 80 meters into the Yambala Valley. The Rio Yambala is crossed on a shaky log bridge just below the junction of the Solomaco- & Las Palmas Rivers. 300 meters upstream you have to ford the Rio Solomaco. A big log halfway across the river might get you across without taking your shoes off, but either way, crossing will be difficult when the water level is high. 150 meters upstream from the fording, the trail branches sharply to the right (you miss it quite easy). A steep climb of 150 meters leads you to the top of a long ridge, then levels off. 800 meters along the top of the ridge you’ll reach the entrance gate to the Las Palmas Reserve, another 700 meters later you find the Refugio Las Palmas.

To continue into the park, seek out the faint trail at the back of the Refugio. Depending on the season, you need to clear the trail with a machete, which can be quite tiring. Upon returning it's easy to loose your trail, so be careful!


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