Salud y Vida SPA - Tratamientos Naturales en Vilcabamba Ecuador

Salud y Vida SPA – Natural therapies in Vilcabamba

[Total: 2    Average: 5/5]

us English version esEspañol AQUI

Relaxation therapies – Body Massage – Steam Baths – Reflexology – Clay exfoliation – Hair removal – Facial care …

Health is a pervasive topic in the so-called “Valley of Longevity”, Vilcabamba, a small town in the Ecuadorian Andes mountains. Many people have come from abroad and have settled in Vilcabamba precisely to seek a better quality of life. In fact many of them are professionals engaged in one or another form of natural therapy: massage, reflexology, acupuncture, osteopathy, yoga, bio-magnetism, Rolf therapy and more … Vilcabamba has it all.

Mariana Avila is a native of Vilcabamba. We visited her center of natural treatments called “Salud y Vida SPA“.

Salud y Vida SPA - Tratamientos Naturales en Vilcabamba Ecuador


Martha Jaramillo
By Martha Jaramillo

Many of you living here in Vilcabamba already know Mariana and perhaps already felt her magic hands … I met her when she had a vegetarian restaurant. I must confess that was my favorite at that time.

However, we have now discovered other qualities and skills that she possesses. Mariana is a sweet and spontaneous person, inspires confidence, she carries within herself what I would call “the angel”, something that I immediately felt when I saw her. The persons who possess “the angel” have something special that other people don’t have, the true vocation of caring for others and do it with love, patience and sweetness. Mariana has that and it makes you want to stay there forever in a never ending massage.

She told us that her attraction for alternative therapies and natural medicine was born when she was still very young. It is something genetic in the Avila Cabrera family. She explained that several close family members favored the branch of medicine both eastern and western. She also has an uncle who is a shaman and her daughter Ruth is studying child psychology at the university. They are a long chain of guardians of health …

And before you ask, her prices are very affordable too.

The place is simple without fuss and quite cozy indeed, adorned with many beautiful plants and flowers of various colors. Every corner is well designed so that when one enters this place, one feels comfortable and relaxed.

Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba - The place is cozy and well decorated
The place is cozy and well decorated

Mariana told us that her customers usually ask for suggestions on which therapy to attend and she advises them depending on their ailments. However, the “baño de cajón” (in English literally “the bath in a drawer”) is always the recommended first step in order to detoxify the body and at the same time get the person to relax. She then continues with either a massage or an exfoliation, a mud bath, a reflexology etc …

Mariana has been trained through workshops, courses etc … about therapies that she performs in its SPA. It is evident that she loves doing these activities and this makes it different.

To let go in Mariana’s hands

By Pierre Volter

As is our custom at, we want as much as possible to only talk from experience. For the purpose of this article, Mariana offered me to do me a treatment and I asked her which one she would recommend. We talked a little about my health and my ailments, she asked me a few things about my life. I have a tendency to be a little over stressed and nervous which in my case manifests itself in the skin. Because of this she recommended a steam bath and a clay exfoliation.

It is something that Martha has already mentioned above in her introduction but I wish to reiterate it because it is important. The therapist’s personality, her “energy”, her “aura” is an essential part of the patient’s experience, is it not? This is something that cannot be explained but rather felt. I felt immediately relaxed with Mariana and had no issue surrendering myself to her capable hands.

Baño de cajón (steam box)

Salud y Vida Vilcabamba - Baños de cajón
Salud y Vida Vilcabamba – Baños de cajón

This is basically a steam bath, similar to a Turkish bath but performed in a custom designed cupboard or “drawer” (hence the name “cajon” in Spanish which means drawer) inside which the person sits leaving only the head outside. I read that it is inspired from Ayurvedic medicine. The advantage of leaving the head outside is that one can still breathe comfortably “up here” despite the heat and heavy body sweating “down there”.


Salud y Vida Vilcabamba - Baños de cajón
Getting ready for the steam box (Baño de cajón)
The body is the body
The body is the body

So I took off my clothes, put my belongings in a cane basket that she gave me and put on a white dressing gown.

It was then time to sit in the steam box that I distractedly was about to walk into with the gown still on. Mariana gently told me to take it off. “Of course“, I thought, “Silly me, I am not going to get in there with the dressing gown on, am I?

However, I felt a little shy I confess. I heard myself saying, “What? I have to take it all off?“.

She laughed and replied:

That’s right. The body is the body.”

I sat in the steam box and slowly felt the heat all over my body and the nice scent of the plants while I started to sweat a lot, which is good because the objective is for the heat to open the pores and allow the body toxins out. I had to stay 15 minutes inside the box.

Salud y Vida Vilcabamba - Baños de cajón
I sat in the steam box and slowly felt the heat all over my body

From time to time Mariana approached to ask how I feel, wipe my face and put a wet towel on my head. Also when the heat became unbearable, we opened the lid a little to have a pause. I must say that she did the whole process very sweetly, nothing by force, nothing uncomfortable. After the treatment, looking at the photo below and remembering the heat and the cool “life saving towel” that Mariana put on my head, I had to laugh while thinking about those famous biblical words:

Salud y Vida Vilcabamba - Baños de cajón
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Clay Exfoliation

Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba - Exfoliacion con arcilla caliente
A sheet of plastic and a good blanket to continue perspiring

Fifteen minutes later I felt totally relaxed. Mariana then covered my whole body with warm clay including the face and wrapped me in a sheet of plastic and a good blanket to continue perspiring for about 20 minutes.

Mariana then covered my whole body with warm clay including the face
Mariana then covered my whole body with warm clay including the face

In this process I felt quite hot and thirsty, Mariana gave me to drink a refreshing mint tea, then she made an exfoliation with a glove to remove the wet clay, gently massaging the whole body.

Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba - Exfoliation
Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba – Exfoliation

Finally I took a shower, not too cold not too hot. Perfect ! And it was easy to take the clay off my body because the clay had not been allowed to dry out. I then leaned back in a long chair and felt like a fresh lettuce … well actually I wish I could have stayed right there to sleep overnight since I felt so comfortable and relaxed.


Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba - Reflexología

“Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears. Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person’s general health.” Wikipedia.

We did not do a reflexology session. While she was briefly explaining us how it works, Mariana took my feet and applied pressure to different points. When she made me cringe or even jump she explained that the pain was not something normal but rather the reflection of a problem in some area of my body.

Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba - Reflexology mat
Reflexology mat

Talking about reflexology, Mariana had something interesting. She showed us a mat made in such a way that it stimulates the reflexology points of the feet, allowing to reach excellent therapeutic results.

My feet are very sensitive so I could not even stand for a minute on the carpet. It is like walking on pebbles but worse. Martha, who is native from here had no problem at all standing on it. “She is a river girl” I thought.

Actually, Mariana recommended me to take shoe-less walks on the river bank.


We did not have time for a massage. It must surely be excellent and we’ll try to include information on this topic some time on the web site.

In the mean time, if you are reading this article and have already experienced a massage at “Salud y Vida”, please leave your comment in the section below.


In her Vilcabamba natural treatment center, Salud y Vida SPA, Mariana knows her subject. She has a lot of experience dealing with both locals and foreigners. She works with sweetness, love and respect. The place is cozy and has good energy. We recommend it to anyone who wants to relax, relieve stress and improve his or her physical and psychological health.

Salud y Vida SPA - Natural therapies in Vilcabamba - Mariana Avila
Salud y Vida SPA – Natural therapies in Vilcabamba – Mariana Avila

Visit the center of natural treatments Health and Life the next time you are in Vilcabamba.



Address: Valle Sagrado y Diego Vaca de Vega, Vilcabamba Ecuador (opposite to restaurant Mexibamba)
Tel: +593 (0)9 86782084
Opening hours: please call for an appointment

Salud y Vida SPA Vilcabamba - Mapa


Do you wish to comment or share some experience? Please leave your message in the section below. You can also contact us through our web page here.

Subscribe to our newsletter

If you wish to be informed about what goes on at and receive quality information about Vilcabamba, the city of Loja and the entire Loja province in Ecuador, please do subscribe here.

© 2016
All rights reserved

Follow us on Facebook:

#HechoConAmor #TodoLoja

Leave a Reply

1 Comment on "Salud y Vida SPA – Natural therapies in Vilcabamba"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted