People come to Vilcabamba to relax – which is an easy task once you’re here, considering the tranquility of the village and its stunning mountainous surroundings. The slightly surreal peaks that practically engulf Vilcabamba make for some excellent day hikes from town. Furthermore, nearly every other building (and there aren’t many) has a sign out front advertising massages and facials, a trend started by a few hotels and later picked up by the rest of the resident population, a large percentage of whom are foreigners who couldn’t bring themselves to leave. Most of those who stayed, as well as a handful of locals, now own cafés, offer horse-riding tours or own rustic little hotels offering travelers ample opportunity to do what you do in Vilcabamba: kick back. The town offers access to remote sections of Podocarpus and is a good stopping point en route to or from Peru via Zumba.
Vilcabamba has for many years been famous as the ‘valley of longevity.’ Inhabitants supposedly live to be 100 or more, and some claim to be 120 years old. This has been attributed to their simple, hard-working lifestyle, their diet of nonfatty foods and the excellent climate. Scientific investigation has been unable to substantiate these beliefs, but the legend persists.