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PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR

Puyango Petrified Forest, Ecuador

The Petrified Forest of Puyango, known worldwide as a marine fossil and the largest petrified wood deposit in the world; It is a great little geological reserve in the extreme south of Ecuador. Puyango was formerly a sea; the oldest fossils correspond to marine organisms. This sea dried up and became grown over by forests with their fauna, some of which became petrified. These remains surfaced again as a result fo the rising of the Andes. The youngest fossils are  about 60 million years old and the oldest date back 500 million years.

 

Most petrified trees belong to the Araucarioxylon genus and are about 100 million years old; The largest specimen is 2 m in diameter and 15 m in length. There are also fossils of leaves corresponding to four genera of primitive plants resembling ferns and palms. According to Dr. Robert E. Shoemaker the paleobotanist who discovered and studied the area from 1975 - 1976, the number of petrified trunks contained in such a compact area represent one of the largest collections of this type in the world, comparable to Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park in the USA.


PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: EntrancePUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Visitor center: Locations of the 3 principle petrified forests in the Americas.

A rather inconspicuous entrance hides a great little reserve.

Visitor center: Locations of the 3 principle petrified forests in the Americas.

 

How to get there

The reserve is located, on the banks of the Puyango River at 111 km from Machala and 280 km from the city of Loja.

 

Conservation status

The Petrified Forest of Puyango was legally declared  a protected forest by ministerial decree No. 002 on January 9, 1987, totalling ​​2658 ha of  which only about 100 ha are fully protected with a vegetation recovery program. The rest of the area is privately owned.

On August 15, 2002, in the context of decentralization, deconcentration and transfer of functions, powers, responsibilities, management and control was transferred to the Provincial Council of Loja.

 

The walk

The guided walk takes anywhere between half an hour and an hour. Some fossils are found on the banks of a stream with clean and clear water, where you will find enormous trunks that correspond to the Jurassic period which had its greatest development about 120 billion years ago.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Trail head.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Overlook.

The trail head starting at the visitor center.

At only 5 minutes walk there is an overlook along a creek, where several fossils have been washed up.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Petrified tree transversal slice of 2 m diameter.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Fossil plant prints.

One of the larger trunks along the creek.

Along the creek one finds fossil prints of tree leaves.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The site with the greatest number of fallen fossil trees.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A different un-identified fossil tree species.

The site with the greatest number of fallen fossil trees.

A different un-identified fossil tree species.

 

At the end of the trail, is of one of the largest and best preserved petrified trees in the entire reserve with an approximate original length of 80 meters by about 8 meters in diameter, about one third of which you will find on the ground.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR:The Giant, an enormously tall and wide tree is the highlight of the reserve.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The Giant showing its full visible length.

The Giant, an enormously tall and wide tree is the highlight of the reserve.

The Giant showing its full visible length.

 

Climate

The forest is located between 360 and 500 meters above sea level and has an average temperature of 22.5 °C.

The vegetation is a typical tropical seasonally deciduous forest with very little rainfall during the dry season from May to December. Most of the yearly 900mm of rainfall falls between January to April. While officially recommended for visiting during the dry season, I don't agree at all. During the wet season the forest is beautifully green, and a bit of a drizzle should not spoil your joy. So, visiting year around is my recommendation.

 

Flora

Some enormeous petrinos trees, Cavanillesia Platanifolia, of which the tallest, the about 300 year old "Giant", stands 35 m tall and 2 m at the base. Other conspicuous trees are ceibos, potos, guapala, pechiche, hualtaco, puyangos, guayacanes, laureles, guasimos, caciques, cedros, palo santo, higuerón, limoncillo, almendro, etc. Small trees and shrubs include: amancay, bejucos, orquídeas, chaquiro, pastos, ortiga, matico and mortiño, many of which flower in the dry season with abundant flowers.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The roots of a Petrinos Tree.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Petrinos trees have superficial rings that grow every few years.

The roots of a Petrinos Tree.

Petrinos trees have superficial rings that grow every few years.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The tallest petrinos tree of the reserve. PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The widest petrinos tree of the reserve.

The tallest petrinos tree of the reserve.

The widest petrinos tree of the Petrified Forest of Puyango Reserve.

 

Dear visitor, our website gives you info about our National Parks Tours, our Galapagos programs, the Cuyabeno Loop, as well as our Cuyabeno  and Cofan Lodges in the Amazon.   For those who want to combine the Exuberant Nature of Ecuador with the Famous culture of Peru, we even have a 7 days Highlights of Peru extension! Our website gives you the best information on the internet, because we are the only tour operator run by professional biologists. Take a look:

 

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Indians take you in their agile dug-out canoes along winding rivers.

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Price: $ 499

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Children learning about the rainforest.

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Birdwatching by visitors of the Amazon in Ecuador

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excursion on Lake Cuyabeno

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Alpacas in Chimborazo Wildlife Reserve are the domesticated form of the vicuñas.

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San Rafael Falls

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Our National Parks Tours take you on a fantastic journey along the best possible sample of Andean and coastal parks. They have been designed to complement Galapagos and/or Amazon cruises. They can start from different places, particularly Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca. While the full program lasts 9 days, it is possible to make a limited selection of parks, like the 6 days' "Andes and Coast" module.

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Bartelome Island at Galapagos National Park

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Inca wall in Cusco.

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Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website and founder of Parks and Tribes. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature. https://www.facebook.com/DrDaanVreugdenhil, https://www.linkedin.com/in/drdaanvreugdenhil/. He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador, including. Yasuní and Cuyabeno, the latter of which he he later recommended to be expanded from originally 150,000ha to 600,000ha, together with then Cuyabeno director Prof. Dr. Flavio Coello and Parks and Tribes partner. Daan is also the founding father of the Cuyabeno Lodge and co-manager of the Cofan Lodge.