The Petrified Forest of Puyango, the world's largest petrified wood deposit, is
fantastic reserve with great trails in Southern Ecuador. Its earliest
fossils are of marine animals.
When the sea dried up the area became covered with forests.
Some of the trees and plants became petrified, when they were covered
with sediments. Millions of years later, those fossils rose to the
surfaced again with the rising of the Andes. The ages of the fossils
vary from 60
million 500 million years old.
The Araucarioxylon genus is the most common species and dates
back some 100 million years; The largest trunk is 2 m wide and
15 m long. Fossilized leaves represent 4
genera of primitive ferns and palms. The paleobotanist who discovered
the petrified foerwst, Dr.
Robert E. Shoemaker, carried out investigations from 1975 to 1976.
With so many petrified trees concentrated in such
a small area it is considered one of the largest petrified forest
remains in the world. The importance of the reserve is comparable to Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park in the
The entrance of the reserve.
Visitor center: Locations of the 3
principle petrified forests in the Americas.
The reserve is located, on the banks of the Puyango River at 111 km from
Machala and 280 km from the city of Loja.
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 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.
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
One of the larger trunks along the creek.
Along the creek one finds fossil prints of tree leaves.
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.
The Giant, an enormously tall and wide tree is the
highlight of the reserve.
The Giant showing its full visible length.
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.
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.
The roots of a Petrinos Tree.
Petrinos trees have superficial rings that grow every few
The tallest petrinos tree of the reserve.
The widest petrinos tree of the Petrified Forest of Puyango
The Cuyabeno Loop explores
the breathtaking scenery of lower Cuyabeno and Zábalo
Rivers and the Cuyabeno Lake. Watch the amazing birds and
wildlife. Pass 2 nights with the amazing Cofan Indians in
the Cofan Lodge and enjoy 2 nights of comfort in the famous
The Lagarto Cocha Expedition on hidden
creeks and lakes is the best Amazon journey in Ecuador!
Discover Indian tribes in Ecuador, Monkeys, Sloths,
Dolphins. No other Amazon rainforest in any of the
Amazon-Andean countries can match the wildlife viewing
of Cuyabeno and it is far better than Yasuní!
The Cuyabeno Lake Program
explores all the wild places surrounding the Cuyabeno Lake.
Bonsai-shaped Macrolobia trees with the whispering of the
mysterious prehistoric Hoatzin birds and the noisy Blue and
Yellow Macaws. Our Cuyabeno Lodge is on the best location,
because we were the first and chose the best location on a
seasonal island in the Cuyabeno Lake itself.
Our Northern Andes Tour lets you get a
taste of some of the best Andean National Parks,
visiting the highest groves in the world: the Polylepis
trees, the highest mountain in the world calculated from
the center of the Earth, the Chimborazo with Vecuñas and
Lamas, the highest active volcano in the world, the
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.
A fabulous program for visiting the most
famous cultural highlights Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the
Sacred Valley. At the same time it serves as the Lima hub
for the Peru National Parks Tour. This module is an
extension to our National Parks Tour Ecuador and/or Galapagos National Park
and/or Amazon Cruises.