Ecuador Travel Planner - Tourism information:
Coast, Andes, Amazonas, Galapagos

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Ecuador travel Machalilla national park

Ecuador´s main coastal reserve

The Park runs, along the coast, from Puerto Cayo to Puerto Lopez and includes several beaches, such as Los Frailes; and, to the continent, up to the summits of the Coast Cordillera. The Park is also composed by the famous Isla de la Plata (Silver Island) which interest is not only ecological but also cultural because of the archaeological findings of very ancient cultures, such as Machalilla and Manteña. Main Entrances: From the north, there are two entrances – one from Jipijapa to Puerto Cayo (28 km, 17 miles); and another one from the Sun Route, from Manta southwards. From Quito, you will make around 8 hours by Cost Accounting Regulation (not bus). From the south, you enter by the Sun Route to Puerto Lopez. From Guayaquil, you will make round 5 hours. Below are the main attractions of the Park:
 
Isla de La Plata (Silver Island):
This island is called Little Galapagos because it has blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii), sea lions, all kinds of sea birds, marine turtles, and sharks. Snorkeling and scuba diving with compressed-air tanks is particularly interesting here since you will see multicolored tropical fish and coral reefs. Besides, from the end of June to September, you can watch the humpback whales. If you ask the reason for the island’s name, you will get several versions, each one very interesting. How to get there: Most boats to the island leave from Puerto Lopez; please remember to take only those with a professional license! Depending on the sea conditions, the trip takes around 2 hours. Puerto Lopez has many tourism agencies for your transportation to the island, guides for the National Park, snorkeling and scuba diving, whale-watching and much more!
 
Agua Blanca Archaeological Complex: Agua Blanca was an ancient religious ceremonial center and a significant settlement of the Machalilla, Chorrera, and Manteña cultures (500 b.C to 500 A.D.). There is a local museum with interesting archaeological pieces where you will see the stone foundations of the Manteña buildings. How to get there: You take the Sun Route from Puerto Lopez and go around 16 km (10 miles) to the north until you reach the road to Aguas Blancas, to the east.
 
Los Frailes Beach: This is a beautiful beach which is administered by the National Park. It is along cliffs and dry tropical bush. How to get there: You take a dirt road from the Sun Route, a few miles south of the town of Machalilla. The entrance is labeled.
 
Ayampe River Valley: This is a spectacular valley composed of dry tropical forest inside the valley and wet forests on the higher sides. You will find deer, armadillos, squirrels and other animals. It is an excellent site for bird-watchers, even rare species such as the gray-backed hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis) which is endemic to the Coast, or woodpeckers of different sizes, the kingfisher and the spectacular blue-crowned motmot, among other great species. How to get there: You can choose between different specialized tours that you can take from the main hotels in the Park. If you are driving, be sure to have a 4x4 vehicle because you will be crossing the river on several spots.
 
Cantalapiedra: Wet forest located on the south end of the Park. It has a huge variety of flora and fauna. There are several trails through the forest with beautiful views, including the sea in the horizon. Wet and dry forest birds company-habit here – multi-colored tanagers, humming birds, trogons, parrots, and the fascinating ochraceous Attila (Attila torridus). The weather is very pleasant all year round. How to get there: Take the Sun Route from Puerto Lopez to the south (the entrance is well-labeled). You can visit the forest in one day or you can lodge in the site. You will find several hotels around the south end of the Machalilla National Park, between Puerto Lopez and Ayampe. For cabins in Canalapiedra, please consult with Hosteria Andaluz (593-5) 278-0690.

San Sebastian: This zone is spectacular; it is the high sides of the remote and well-preserved wet forest. You can visit it through its paths and horseback trails. Usually, you will need one or two days for a full visit. You will need to camp. It is an exceptional place to watch birds and all kinds of wildlife.  How to get there: You can take tours from the main hotels inside the Park. For guided visits, you need to contact the Park administration.
 
Salango Museum: This museum will show you a summary of the park’s biological, ecological, historic and archaeological characteristics. How to get there: The coastal town of Salango is located a few miles south of Puerto Lopez. In front of it you will see the Salango Island.

Main Offices Address: Av. Rumiñahui 221 y 1ra Transversal, San Rafael                                                                                         Quito - Ecuador