Referred to as the “Sacred Valley” by the Incas, Vilcabamba is known today as the “Valley of Longevity” where many of the inhabitants live to the age of 100 and more.
Travelers who visit this village are astonished at the ages of the people. Many of them have theories about the “secret” of longevity – the perfect altitude, water, air, the food, harmony, maybe it’s everything combined.
Until recently the village was isolated from the rest of the world. At an altitude of 5,000 feet (1524 meters) and surrounded by the Andes Imported “goods” couldn’t reach the village, and the villagers also enjoyed their life without cars and television as the signals could not reaching the area until a few years ago.
It wasn’t that long ago that little Vilcabamba was virtually cut off from the rest of the world. Shipments of unhealthy, processed food didn’t make it this far. There was no pollution, and both water and air were about as fresh as could be.
However, now the things have changed. Many curious people introduced the concept of “tourism” to the villagers, so now there is satellite TV and a high-speed internet. Also, vehicles are in the streets. But Vilcabamba is still surrounded by uninhabited mountains and streams that bring fresh, clear water to the village.
The villagers from Vilcabamba are known to live up to 100 years, but apparently there many who have gotten to 120, or even 135. The Nobel Chemistry Prize winner, Dr. Richard Laurence Millington Synge, who discovered amino acids, has made claims that the plant life of many places in Ecuador, including Vilcabamba, contain remarkable medicinal qualities.
According to analysis based on scientific chemical assay techniques, the herbs, roots, and fruits in this part of Ecuador contain some of the most powerful anti-oxidant protection in the world.
In 1973, the Vilcabamba villagers were introduced to the world for the first time, by Dr. Alexander Leaf of Harvard Medical School who told the story of the village in the National Geographic Magazine. In 1981, the medical journalist Dr. Morton Walker was hired by the Ecuadorian government to make a study of the people in Vilcabamba.
He wrote about his research in his book “The Secret to a Youthful Long Life” and claims that the key to long life and health is the water in the village which is rich in minerals.
Hence, the water was taken for laboratory analysis, and it was determined that it contains a unique balance of enriched colloidal minerals, ideal for optimum human health. But the age expectancy in Vilcabamba raised many suspicions among researchers and doctors.
In particular, when Dr. Alexander Leaf returned to the village in 1974, he met a man who told him that he is 134 years old. The same man that in 1971 claimed that he had 122. So it is also believed that the villagers are inconsistent in their self-reported ages.
Whatever the truth is, Vilcabamba is a magical place, the water is indeed fresh and clean, and the villagers are indeed healthy and happy. And all the world tends to believe that there is a secret to long life and that Vilcabamba is indeed the Valley of longevity.