T he Loja Province deserves so much time and attention that I wish we could live locally for a year or two. I arrived in the province with the idea that I would see the capital city, Loja, add a few sights on the outskirts of town, and be content to come home. Instead, I left with a list of places yet to see!

After hiking trails towards the Podocarpus National Park, I realized that days were needed to really explore it. I stayed in the famous ex-pat town of Vilcabamba to be near wild places and found that I could have stayed in half a dozen other places more wild and free. And the capital city, named Loja like the province, had its own tame wildness at the local botanical garden just outside of town. And the unique culture of Saraguro is only enhanced by the outdoor attractions surrounding the town. Few have been developed for foreign tourism and retain an authenticity that is to be lauded. Like I said, a few days in this province only managed to whet my appetite.

These photos are what I call Loja Natural. The province has tons of outdoor destinations that are very different from the Andes around Quito in the Pichincha Province. But, like Pichincha, Loja is surrounded by micro-climates, each deserving a visit. Overall, a lower altitude makes for easier hiking, though steep trails made me question that a few times. But for visitors concerned with heart issues, I would definitely recommend making Loja your home base for a trip to Ecuador.

There are many articles to come about my time spent in the South of Ecuador. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos. They barely scratch the surface of this beautiful place.

ECUADOR POR MIS OJOS

Last year, the Instituto Geografico Militar of Ecuador and I released a book of photography, Ecuador Por Mis Ojos. This post shares photos from that book.

If you would like to see other photos from the book, please check out: