The city of Loja is one of Ecuador’s oldest cities, and sits within the southern Cuxibamba valley. Loja doesn’t often feature on visitor itineraries, perhaps because the city does not quite match the standards of beauty found in Cuenca to the north. Sections of Loja are attractive, and feature traditional colonial architecture and pretty plazas. The area is known for its coffee plantations, musical traditions and university. It also makes a great base for its proximity to the vast Podocarpus National Park, with varying terrain from humid jungle to breezy highlands.