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Loja, Ecuador - Nice City, Ecuadors Music Capital

Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - June 2009 July 2011   » View Photoset (49 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
Loja has a long history and because of this there is much to see and do in the city. I had travelled down the Oriente road through the jungle regions of Ecuador
Ecuador Photo - Indian Temple replica at Jipiro Recreational Park in Loja.
Indian Temple replica at Jipiro Recreational Park in Loja.
and Loja was the first big city I had visited since Quito a week earlier. The city has some nice parks, plazas, historical areas, galleries, museums and monuments, it is known as Ecuadors music capital. I spent a couple of days exploring the cities sights.

Jipiro Recreational Park

I visited Jipiro Recreational Park, it is full of life-size replicas of famous buildings from around the world including Asian arquitecture with dragons, an Indian temple Templo Indomalaico, the Cathedral de San Basilio Moscu of Russia, the Eiffel Tower of France and on the island in the lagoon Big Ben Tower of London. A range of bird species can be spotted in the park including Golondrinas,
Ecuador Photo - Small yellow church in Loja historical area.
Small yellow church in Loja historical area.
Carpinteros, Tordos, Atrapamoscas, Sucaca, Mar Arita, Garza Gris and Suipe. Other recreational activities at Park Jipiro include horse riding, a skateboard bowl, pedal boats and tennis. A plane and train are on display also. Jipiro Park is quite near to the Loja bus terminal where also there is a monument of Isidro Ayora Cueva (1879-1978), a former president of Ecuador and a gold military monument.

Castle and City Gates

I arrived at the city gate, a big castle and bridge beside the river. There is an art gallery that had on display some fantastic wooden sculptures. Across the road from the castle and city gates are 2 huge murals, one is to Antonio Jose de Sucre (1795-1830), he was a Venezuelan independence leader and good friend of Simon Bolivar for whom the other mural is of.

Parks and Plazas

I made my way to Plaza / Parque Bolivar to sit down and have some lunch, the monument to Bolivar is quite
Ecuador Photo - Photos from 1925 in Lojas music museum, Museo de Musica.
Photos from 1925 in Lojas music museum, Museo de Musica.
spectacular with its 6 white columns and surrounding palm trees. I found Plaza de la Independencia also known as San Sebastian Square, it is dominated by a 32m high clock tower and church Ministerio Parroquial de San Sebastian. Down the road a little I came to a small park that had several flower sellers and a monument to Dr. Lautaro Loriza. Nearby is an orange church and monument to Mercedes de Jesus Molina y Ayala (1828-1883). Nearby again is Plaza de la Confederacion Santo Domingo with its beautiful church constructed in 1600 and a monument to Manuel Carrion Pinzano, a promoter of culture and education. I visited the museum of art Museo de Arte Laitinoamericano, it's a cool and colorful building with some very cool and colorful paintings.

The Cathedral and Park

Arriving now at the Cathedral of Loja, built in 1890, it has
Ecuador Photo - Stable of 2 horses Morgan and Azabache at Jipiro Recreational Park, Loja.
Stable of 2 horses Morgan and Azabache at Jipiro Recreational Park, Loja.
an eclectic style and neoclassical elements, it has a German organ brought the same year of its construction. It stands on one side of a lovely park where people relax beside the trees and gardens, a monument to Bernardo Valdivieso (1745-1805) stands in the middle. Ecuadors oldest college founded in 1856 and located in Loja is named after him.

Museums of Music and Photos

On another side of the park is the cultural museum Museo y Centro Cultural, it's basically a lot of black and white photos of the history of Loja. Since Loja is Ecuadors music capital I was looking forward to visiting the cities music museum Museo de Musica when it opened up again after lunch. Its a very interesting place with many photos from the 1800s-1960s of local groups and orchestras. The violins and bows of Maestros Manuel de Jesus Lozano and Daniel Armijos Carrasco are on display here. Loja also has a museum of religious art Museo Arte Religioso. Church Iglesia de San Francisco was the next sight in Loja that I
Ecuador Photo - Monument in Loja to Dr. Jose Eduardo Rodriguez Witt.
Monument in Loja to Dr. Jose Eduardo Rodriguez Witt.
saw, it's an impressive structure with its tower, dome and round and arched windows. The monument of a man on horseback is Alonso de Mercadillo, the founder of Loja, Zaruma and Zamora. As I walked back to my hostel at the days end I passed the great white palace of justice Palacio de Justicia, quite something indeed.

Bus 1hr to Vilcabamba

I can very much recommend taking a visit to Loja to spend a day or 2 enjoying the history and beauty of the city. My next destination was Vilcabamba, 1hr south by bus.

Bus Cuenca to Loja

2009: After 2 hours of walking around Cuenca city it was time to get my backpack from the hotel and take the 5 and a half hour bus journey to Loja where I wanted to get another bus for 6 hours to Macara on the border with Peru by that night. The scenery to Loja was very beautiful with hills and
Ecuador Photo - People ride pedal-boats in the lake at Jipiro Recreational Park in Loja.
People ride pedal-boats in the lake at Jipiro Recreational Park in Loja.
fields, farm houses and small communities and villages such as Al Canton. The bus stopped often to drop off or collect locals. The countryside as usual in Ecuador was an amazing sight to see with all manner of life going on as we passed through. It was a great treat with mountains, country houses, monuments, shrines, crops growing in the fields, locals tending to their animals and produce and lots of open green spaces with trees. Arriving at Loja at around 4pm.

Bus Loja to Macara

I booked a bus for 5pm to Macara. I had a brief walk out and took some photos of the musical bridge and a few monuments. I had some food and got to my next bus to Macara which would take 6 hours to travel a mere 200kms! The bus south to Macara was a very drawn out process, stopping many times for passengers to get on and off.

Macara Border Crossing to Peru

But late that night at about 11pm we
Ecuador Photo - Mercado Gran Colombia, market in Loja.
Mercado Gran Colombia, market in Loja.
arrived in Macara where I got some soup, fed a street dog the bones, found a budget hotel and went to sleep. I wanted to be ready to cross the border back into Peru in the morning for another full days travel on my 4 day mission to Lima from Puerto Lopez to get back home to NZ. The border bridge to Peru is only a short taxi ride away from the center of Macara and you can do the border control formalities there rather than go on a wild goose chase in town trying to find the passport stampers. There is not an official money changer on either side of the bridge but I changed some $USD for Soles with the Peruvian border policeman. After crossing the bridge I got a co-op taxi to Sullana.

     

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Distances & times (if available) from Loja (Ecuador) to:


Map location: Loja, Ecuador. Ecuadors music capital and a nice place in the southern region! Jipiro Recreational Park is full of life-sized replicas of famous buildings from around the world!
 A : Vilcabamba - Ecuador 28 kms 28 kms straight distance | 55mins 55mins by car (44 kms) | 1hr 6mins 1hr 6mins by bus (44 kms) (44 kms)
 B : Zamora - Ecuador 31 kms 31 kms straight distance | 1hr 28mins 1hr 28mins by car (66 kms) | 1hr 45mins 1hr 45mins by bus (66 kms) (66 kms)
 C : Vilcabamba to Zumba - Ecuador 72 kms 72 kms straight distance | 2hrs 28mins 2hrs 28mins by car (117 kms) | 2hrs 57mins 2hrs 57mins by bus (117 kms) (117 kms)
 D : Cuenca - Ecuador 126 kms 126 kms straight distance | 3hrs 37mins 3hrs 37mins by car (218 kms) | 4hrs 20mins 4hrs 20mins by bus (218 kms) (218 kms)
 E : Huaquillas - Ecuador 125 kms 125 kms straight distance | 4hrs 6mins 4hrs 6mins by car (225 kms) | 4hrs 55mins 4hrs 55mins by bus (225 kms) (225 kms)
 F : La Balsa to San Ignacio - Peru 129 kms 129 kms straight distance | 5hrs 16mins 5hrs 16mins by car (227 kms) | 6hrs 19mins 6hrs 19mins by bus (227 kms) (227 kms)
 G : Huaquillas to Machala - Ecuador 118 kms 118 kms straight distance | 4hrs 14mins 4hrs 14mins by car (233 kms) | 5hrs 4mins 5hrs 4mins by bus (233 kms) (233 kms)
 H : Ecuador (Macara) to Sullana to Piura - Peru 93 kms 93 kms straight distance | 6hrs 45mins 6hrs 45mins by car (286 kms) | 8hrs 6mins 8hrs 6mins by bus (286 kms) (286 kms)
 I : Piura to Tumbes - Peru 211 kms 211 kms straight distance | 5hrs 39mins 5hrs 39mins by car (340 kms) | 6hrs 46mins 6hrs 46mins by bus (340 kms) (340 kms)
 J : Macas to Zamora - Ecuador 225 kms 225 kms straight distance | 6hrs 4mins 6hrs 4mins by car (348 kms) | 7hrs 16mins 7hrs 16mins by bus (348 kms) (348 kms)
 K : Mancora - Peru 202 kms 202 kms straight distance | 6hrs 12mins 6hrs 12mins by car (356 kms) | 7hrs 26mins 7hrs 26mins by bus (356 kms) (356 kms)
 L : Alausi - Ecuador 205 kms 205 kms straight distance | 6hrs 14mins 6hrs 14mins by car (372 kms) | 7hrs 28mins 7hrs 28mins by bus (372 kms) (372 kms)
 M : San Ignacio to Chachapoyas - Peru 190 kms 190 kms straight distance | 7hrs 56mins 7hrs 56mins by car (377 kms) | 9hrs 31mins 9hrs 31mins by bus (377 kms) (377 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Loja, Ecuador:

Hostal Gaviota Azul, Loja, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Gaviota Azul, Loja, Ecuador (October 2018 - 1 night) - Hostal Gaviota Azul is located across the road from Loja bus terminal on the lower corner. A room for 2 people cost $20 and with a private bathroom had the best hot shower out of all 22 hotels I stayed at in Ecuador on this trip! The room had a small balcony overlooking the busy road and crazy traffic roundabout which is quite entertaining. The city center is a couple of kms from here. Recommended.
Hotel Londres, Loja, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hotel Londres, Loja, Ecuador (July 2011 - 2 nights) - Right in the middle of town, a simple room, shared very hot showers. OK for a couple of nights.

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