El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Friday, July 20, 2012

Long Life, Low Costs in Ecuador's Sacred Valley

By Suzan Haskins

The morning mist burns away to reveal an expanse of velvety mountains and the green-carpeted valley in all its glory. Fresh air and blazing blue skies are to be expected here in the Andes.

Here, you feel like you could live forever. It’s no wonder that this boasts of being the "Valley of Longevity," where long, healthy lives are common and many of the locals claim to be centenarians—living well into their 100s.

Perhaps it’s the climate. Just shy of the equator in southern Ecuador and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, temperatures in Vilcabamba average between 65 F and 81 F, day in and day out. Some scientists say it’s due to the clean, mineral-rich water. Or the pure air itself. Or the fact that food has been cultivated here for centuries without chemical additives.

No doubt it’s thanks to all these ingredients…and to the fact that it was only a short time ago (in the 1960s) that "civilization" came to this part of the world…in the form of a reliably drivable road that connected it with the outside world.

There’s something for every price range. And if you’re not looking for a farm, you’ll find smaller properties, too. In the heart of the village of Vilcabamba, for instance, a two-story, 2,400-square-foot home has been divided into two rental units, the top floor with three bedrooms and two baths and the bottom floor with two bedrooms. There’s a carport on one side of the house, and a patio with two outdoor covered areas and a built-in pizza/bread oven…even a small vegetable or flower garden. This property is selling for $179,000.

If you’d prefer to rent in the village, you’ll pay $300 to $1,000 per month, depending on size, amenities, furnishings, etc. There are also some small, unfurnished apartments without appliances that rent for as little as $80 a month and others with shared kitchens and baths for about $200 a month.

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