Yunguilla - The Best Alternative to Vilcabamba?

View from Cataviña
The view from Vistas de Cataviña - our development in Yunguilla

Note: A shorter version of this article was published on Jan 8, 2008 as an International Living "Daily Postcard".  See the published version of the article here.

Yunguilla - The Best Alternative to Vilcabamba?

I don’t know of any other small town in the world that has gotten as much great press as Vilcabamba. If it’s a peaceful, back-to-nature life-style that appeals to you, breath-taking scenery and great weather, the place is hard to beat. There’s one other thing that Vilcabamba is known for: its remote location, smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

If you like what Vilcabamba has to offer but you want something a little closer to civilization, you should check out Yunguilla.

Yunguilla isn’t a town - it’s a long valley that begins just south of Cuenca and ends near the seaport city of Machala, with a few small towns along the way. The advantage of Yunguilla is that the best locations are just 45 minutes from Cuenca, a city of half million people and the “cultural heart and soul” of Ecuador. The elevation in Yunguilla ranges from about 7,000 feet at the Giron side (closest to Cuenca) down to 4,500 feet at the Santa Isabel side (closest to Machala) – the climate is perfect and warm, with a very short rainy season. The valley is at an East-West orientation, so it gets direct sunshine all day long.

While most of the economic and real estate development in Vilcabamba has come from foreigners, Yunguilla is mostly Ecuadorian. This is where the middle and upper class families from Cuenca have vacation homes, and it is home base for the Juan Eljuri family (reportedly the second wealthiest family in all of Ecuador, behind Álvaro Noboa – runner up in the last presidential election).

Partly because of its influential residents, the area’s infrastructure is well developed – good restaurants and entertainment, a well maintained highway, with top notch water, power, and telephone service. And the average construction quality is far superior to that in most of rural Ecuador.

Just because there are some wealthy families here, don’t think Yunguilla real estate is expensive. There are some excellent properties at prices you just won’t believe. A recent comparison found land costs in Yunguilla to be 30% to 50% lower than those in Vilcabamba. And the views are … oh, so beautiful!

The Greater Ecuador Real Estate Investment Fund is proud to announce Vistas de Cataviña, a development of 15 "ready to build" lots with absolutely stunning views overlooking the valley. These lots are ready to build your dream home, with the necessary infrastructure in place (water, power, phone). Lot sizes vary, and pre-construction prices start at $10 per square meter (~$32,500 per acre).

Yunguilla offers ample opportunities for nature lovers, including world class bird watching and a network of great hiking trails. Or, if you prefer, you can find local guides to take you horseback riding. Drive up above Giron, and you’ll find a park with a breathtakingly spectacular mountain waterfall. Last but not least – this area is known for the hearty liquor that the locals make from sugar cane. You can tour the farms where the cane grows and see the distillation process first hand. There are also coffee, banana, orange, and papaya plantations nearby.

I believe that Yunguilla is not only a wonderful place to live, but a great place to invest as well. There has been steady growth in the Yunguilla valley, which I expect will continue. The highway has been widened and improved all the way to Cuenca, and there are some excellent hotels and hostelerias scattered throughout the valley.

My advice? Put Yunguilla on your list of “must see” places to visit if you’re considering a move to Ecuador!

David Workman
Fund Manager
The Greater Ecuador Real Estate Investment Fund

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