Picture from Jipiro park in Loja
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Loja Ecuador

Loja EcuadorLoja is called "The Sentinal of the South".  This city is the capital of the Loja Province, situated some 270 miles S.S.W. of Quito, in the valley of Cuxibamba. Loja was founded by the Spanish captain Alonso de Mercadillo on December 8 of 1548, meaning it's one of the oldest towns in Ecuador. Although few of its original buildings survive, the city has some lovely 18th century architecture.

Loja is well known among locals, for the Virgen del Cisne religious festivals it organizes in September, which attract pilgrims from all over the country and from abroad. Other churches worth a visit are San Francisco, San Agustin, Santo Domingo, San Sebastian, and Fatima. They all contain important religious works of art.

The highland route to Peru through Loja and Macara is slower and rougher, but more scenic than the more traveled route through the towns of Machala and Huaquillas.

Loja is a prime example of smart economic development. Lojanos have managed to succeed financially without destroying their cultural heritage and natural resources. This is exemplified in the conscious construction of buildings designed to harmonize with older ones. Loja's effort to preserve its architecture and colonial roots represents a forward thinking approach to development that the rest of Ecuador's cities should follow.

The pure air that is breathed in this city is another fact that attract visitors, the city enjoys a temperate spring-like climate all year round, although evenings are cooler. Loja counts with many parks, that gives fifteen square meters of green space to each inhabitant of this city, for this reason it has been declared as an ecological model to the World. Loja is both an important provincial capital and a college town, two important universities, one national (founded 1943) and the other private (Catholic).

Podocarpus National Park

Loja Ecuador, Podocarpus National ParkPodocarpus is located in Loja and Zamora provinces, its 361,341 acres are equipped with basic infrastructure. The main reason for such bio-diversity is mainly attributable to the areas topographical alignment and merging of the Amazonian and Andean weather which has resulted in the melding of a one off micro climate and much rainfall which has stimulated further growth. Unique flora includes Podocarpus, the only indigenous Andean conifer and the famous Cinchona plant from which quinine was obtained to combat malaria. The fauna is equally exotic and plentiful: woolly mountain tapirs, spectacled bears, cock of the rock, parrots and mountain toucans are common. Within Podocarpus is a beautiful collection of over one hundred glacial lakes and torrential waterfalls, which make up the lake complex. continues...

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