Marooned at the bottom of the country and several hours’ drive from any other major town, LOJA is a remote but thriving little provincial capital. Thanks to its isolation, it has long been good at taking care of its own affairs, even dabbling with self-government in 1857 – not to mention its distinction of being the first city in the country to generate electricity, in 1897. With a progressive emphasis on learning and culture, the city boasts two universities, a law school and a major music conservatory, which give the place a youthful, vibrant atmosphere. Spread over a fertile valley at 2100m above sea level, Loja is about 500m lower than most sierra cities, and noticeably warmer (usually 16–21°C).

Loja’s most exciting fiesta kicks off on August 20 when the icon of the Virgen del Cisne arrives in the cathedral for a two-month “visit”, having been carried on foot from El Cisne, accompanied by hundreds of pilgrims. The festivities which follow culminate on September 8 with the Feria de Integración Fronteriza, a huge craft and trade fair Simón Bolívar established in 1824, in an effort to promote cross-border relations; the fair is still attended by many Peruvians today.

The town sits on the doorstep of the western edge of Parque Nacional Podocarpus, a pristine tract of páramo and cloudforest, and is the best place to get information on the park or arrange a visit. The eastern part of the park, over the sierra and down towards the Oriente, is approached from Zamora, easily reached by bus from Loja. Loja is also the gateway to Peru via two border crossings, one of which is a short hop from Vilcabamba, an easy-going village that has become an obligatory stop for many backpackers before leaving the country.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ecuador features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Podcast: Galápagos – the human story

Podcast: Galápagos – the human story

Galápagos. What do you picture when you hear those four syllables? Chances are it’s wildlife, from giant tortoises and marine iguanas to blue-footed boobies.…

13 Aug 2018 • Rough Guides Editors volume_up Podcast
15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

South America has become a favoured destination for the intrepid backpacker, and while it’s impressive in the astounding diversity of its nations, there are a…

02 Mar 2016 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
19 places for a digital detox

19 places for a digital detox

Find peace at Buddhist monastery, Nepal Trim out the religious and/or mystical connotations and Buddhism boils down to something quite simple – brain trai…

14 Nov 2014 • Neil McQuillian camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs