Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve: Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Remember when Shane and I went to the Buenaventura Nature Reserve to collect butterflies? Of course, you don’t because it was back in JULY (🤯), and I’ve been incredibly slack about writing on the blog.

Well, there was a part two to that trip; the other species we needed lives near Vilcabamba, about five hours away. I’m going to skip that part because it was uneventful. We caught a lot of butterflies and subsequently fed a lot of butterflies. But I wanted to share was our last-day hike in the Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve, which we passed on our way to our good butterfly-collecting spot.

The entrance to Rumi Wilco.

As the name suggests, it’s a nature reserve, but it’s on the other side of Vilcabamba, opposite the Cerro Mandango hike we did on the first collecting trip. There are a series of trails, and you could honestly spend all day if you wanted, especially if you packed some lunch. We only had a few hours in the morning before we needed to go pack up the butterflies for our 13+ hour bus ride home. Being the sucker I am for a view, I insisted on Ridge Trail 3.

The trail map.
A trail marker.

The trails were clear and well-signed with indications on the amount of time to the next trail crossing (they all cross each other eventually). They even had notable trees and plants marked with a short description, which I thought was a nice touch! And, as expected, the views were stunning!

Going up!

Remember when I said I chose the ridge trail? Well, that was an accurate description. The higher up you went, the more ridge-like the trail became. And the way down? The path was maybe three feet wide, straight down on each side. Certainly not for those afraid of heights!

But come on, LOOK AT THAT VIEW!

The way down.
On the ridge.

So, mostly, I just came here to say that if you’re ever in Vilcabamba, check out the Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve. It’s certainly worth the $2 (honor system) donation to enter!

A quick notable side-story before I go. Shane and I have been working hard on learning Spanish. Spanish is really fun, and not only does Shane need it for work, but we both really want to be able to speak it!

Anyway, when we were in Vilcabamba, we were in our hotel room feeding the butterflies with the curtains open because we needed the daylight and because it was hot (no aircon here…). A family with two boys was staying in the room next to us, and the boys quickly noticed that we were doing someeethinggg with butterflies. So, before you know it, we’ve got two kids lingering outside the window. Turns out, the family was half French, half Spanish (and zero English), but the kids were interested and asked about the butterflies. So, the next thing you know, we’ve had a 45 minute conversation IN SPANISH with the boys and their moms, explaining what we’re doing, where we’ve been, how you feed and care for them, and about their trip through South America.

I know, this seems like not that big of a deal, but it was notable because this was the first time that Shane and I looked at each other and were like… we can have a conversation in Spanish! It was one of those moments where you could feel your efforts paying off, and it blew my mind a little to think that our shared language in this conversation was NOT English. For me, until this point, the shared language has always been English!

So, on that note. I’m going to go schedule a Spanish class, and you should check out Vilcabamba. 🤪

Hasta luego,


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