and Reserves in the Coast
Protector Cerro Blanco
Blanco is administered by the Fundacion Pro-Bosque (Pro-Forest Foundation),
and protects 5,000 hectares of dry tropical forest outside of Guayaquil.
Cerro Blanco includes a mosaic of vegetation from abandoned pasturelands
to primary forest, amidst rolling hills and narrow ravines. The
Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco is rich with bio-diversity and one
of the few remaining areas of protected coastal forest in Ecuador.
An estimated 600 plant species are found in the reserve along with
33 recorded mammal species, including monkeys, white-tailed deer,
jaguar, and puma.
to its incredible bird diversity, Cerro Blanco has been designated
Ecuador's second Important Bird Area by Birdlife International.
With 211 bird species registered to date in Cerro Blanco's forest,
including 30 endemic of the Tumbesian Region of Southwestern Ecuador-Northwestern
Peru, bird watching is excellent. Among these varied species, a
total of eight globally threatened bird species live in the forest
and these species are the focus of the foundation's conservation
forest provides comprehensive visitor facilities allowing tourists
to make the most of their trip to Cerro Blanco. There are over 20
knowledgeable guides eager to take visitors on any of the three
nature trails or you can choose to follow the self-guided trail.
A conservation center was recently opened and has a series of exhibits
on dry tropical forests as well as an herbarium. The Fundacion Pro-Bosque
also offers special tours of its integrated organic farm and visits
to the wildlife rehabilitation center to see the forests resident
animals. For a nominal fee, there is a camping and picnic area,
which includes tent pads, running water, and showers.
reserve is located on the coastal highway heading north from Guayaquil
to Salinas (Kilometer 16.5 Via a La Costa).
Puerto Hondo Mangrove Ecotourism project, located one kilometer
north along the Via a La Costa, works with the Fundacion Pro-Bosque
and its community members to offer guided canoe trips through the
mangroves. More than 40 bird species have been identified here,
including white ibis, yellow-crowned night heron, and rufous-necked
wood rail. For more information contact Eric Horstman, Fundacion
Pro-Bosque, Casilla 09-01-04243, Km. 16 Via a la Costa, Guayaquil,
Ecuador, telephone 04-872236, 871-900 extension 32280.
Machalilla National Park
in 1979, Machalilla is the only coastal National Park in Ecuador.
It was constructed to protect two offshore islands, the only coral
formation on the Ecuadorian mainland coast, tropical dry forest,
and also cloud forest. The weather in the park is hot and dry throughout
the year. The Park contains Pre-Colombian archeological ruins and
artifacts, beaches, and tropical dry forest. In addition, over 200
animal species have been identified including coastal parrots, seabirds,
deer, iguanas, snakes, and anteaters.
fascinating excursion in the park is a visit to the "Isla de
la Plata", an island situated just 40-km northwest of Puerto
López. This small island is inhabited by a number of animals commonly
found in the Galapagos Islands including blue footed boobies, pelicans,
and gulls. Dolphins and whales are often sighted between June and
October. Visitors can purchase passes to the park in Puerto López.
Mataje-Cayapas Mangrove Reserve
in the province of Esmeraldas, the Cayapas Mataje Reserve was founded
in 1996 to protect three types of vegetation: tropical rainforest,
tropical dry forest, and mangrove forest. Mangroves have the ability
to grow in salt water and are a life support for various types of
fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. In addition to controlling coastal
erosion the mangroves expand into the ocean to form their own islands.
During the 1980s, many of the mangroves were destroyed in order
to build artificial shrimp producing basins, making the creation
of a Reserve imperative.
inhabited by Afro-Ecuadorian communities, the town of San Lorenzo
is a great place to tour the mangroves and also get a sample of
the local culture. The main access to the Reserve is via the Esmeraldas-Borbón
road and to go further inland, fluvial transportation is necessary.
You can also enter via the Ibarra-San Lorenzo road.
Manglares Churute Mangrove Reserve
Reserve protects one of the few remaining coastal mangrove forests.
It was created in 1979 due to the increasing pressure on the forest
by shrimp farms. The mangrove swamps boast rich and diverse marine
fauna and the trees are essential for the breeding and protection
of hundreds of fish, mollusk, and crustacean species. In the Reserve
you can find tropical dry forest and a 3.25m deep lagoon that covers
over 1000 hectares and contains astonishing vegetation and fauna.
to human activity fauna species have been considerably reduced,
yet in spite of that, dolphins are still frequently reported. This
lesser known region is rarely visited, resulting in an inefficient
tourism infrastructure. Nevertheless, park rangers can assist in
arranging boat trips to the mangroves for interested visitors. The
entrance is located on the Guayaquil-Machala highway, approximately
56 km south of Guayaquil and there is an entrance fee.
world-famous islands make up Ecuador's first and largest national
park. Established in 1959, the park includes 13 major islands, 6
small islands, and 42 islets (some barely big enough to set foot
upon). It is not the volcanic islands that attract most visitors,
but rather the renowned wildlife endemic to the islands, located
600 miles from the nearest continent. Giant tortoises, blue-footed
boobies, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses, and marine iguanas
roam around in what Darwin described as a "living laboratory"
islands that make up this cornucopia of unique species have not
always been protected. The park has a history of human colonization
that has taken a negative toll on the environment. For this reason,
tours of the islands and their surrounding waters are only possible
with a guide and visitors must always walk on designated paths.
These organized tours manage to turn visitors into amateur naturalists
as they marvel at "vampire" finches, warm-water penguins,
hammerhead sharks, and friendly sea lions. Entrance to the park
is approximately US$100, which helps fund the preservation of this
incredible habitat. While tours and lodging are not cheap, many
visitors on a limited budget are still able to make the journey
to this wonder of the world.