The Cordillera Chongón-Colonche,
Mountain Range, is a coastal mountainous range that rose during the Oligocene (36
million years ago) in the Guayas Province and extends through Manabí
Province until it ends in Esmeraldas. Its elevation rises from0 - 840
meters above sea level and its mountain ranges.
park limits extend into the sea, where it includes islands and islets such as
Punta Pedernales, Punta Salaite, Sucre, Punta Lloradora, Punta Los Frailes
and Punta Cabuya and Pan Oven. It also includes on the of Drake Bay Beach and
other narrow beaches with steep cliffs such as: Punta Escalera, Punta Machete,
Punta Palo Santo and El Faro.
the continental coast of the park as well as of the North and East face of
Isla de La Plata are cliffs which are important roosts for oceanic birds. The
main beaches are: Los Frailes, Salango, Puerto López, Salaite and Drake Bay.
distance from the Cordillera Chongón Colonche to the coast is very short and as
a result, there are only very small watersheds with just seasonal creeks. With
climates ranging from semi-desert along the coast to semi-humid at the higher
elevations, the rainfall varies from 161 - 1,120 mm, while showing great
yearly fluctuations. Especially at higher elevations, the vegetation receives
much of its water by absorbing humidity from the mist produced by humid air from
the sea. The average annual temperature fluctuates between 23.5 - 24.5 ° C along
the coast, with lower temperatures at higher elevations.
main watersheds are those of the Rivers Jipijapa, Salaite, Seco, Punteros, Buena
Vista, Piñas and Ayampe.
most of the year, the dominating cold Humboldt current from the South causes
very low rainfall, while the warm current from the North, makes the relative
humidity rise, resulting in increased rainfall during the rainy season.
are two differences climates zones: tropical arid, from the mouth of the Buena
Vista river, to subtropical in the hills higher up in the hills of Perro Muerto
and Punta Alta.
is a thermo-mineral pool in the village Agua Blanca within the park.
The thermal pool at Aguas Blancas.
In the Aguas Blancas zone are different touristic
Machalilla National Park is one of the largest protected areas along the
Ecuadorian coast and is made up of two parts: the mainland of 56,184 ha and the
marine area o 14,430 ha.
fauna list shows 81 species of mammals, 270 of birds, 15 amphibians and 143 of
fish, but these data are dated and based on very limited inventories.
Decreed on July 26, 1979, by Interministerial
Resolution A-322 and 376, it was published in the Official Registry of November
20, 1979 R. O. No. 069. The park is administered from its headquarters in Puerto
the presence of towns and villages within the park limits, many parts of the
park suffer from severe human impacts.
Residents of the park on their way to the forest
to collect products.
The Playa los Frailes Beach is among the best
protected zones in the park.
spite of that, the park is of great significance, being located in the
transition zone between the geographical Chocó province with the highest
rainfall in the world, and the deserts that start south from the border with
Peru. Because of these circumstances, Machalilla National Park is one of the
most significant protected areas in Ecuador, with many species of flora and
fauna found only in this climate transition region.
The park is one of the most visited mainland protected areas of the country,
particularly, for its famous natural beaches. Also, whale-watching is very
popular, which may be part of our Machalilla National Park Tours during
the season, while during other seasons, we offer many other things to do in
Machalilla National Park.
1 Los Frailes Beach
Los Frailes Beach: Located just south of the town of
Machalilla and 12 km north of Puerto Lopez. You will get to this natural beach
without any buildings and shielded by cliffs at both ends, by crossing a
beautiful dry forest with lots of plants and animals that are typical for the
area. This beach is the most popular site in the Park. You can also walk a
self-guided trail of 4 km that gets you to the beaches of Tortuguita and Playita.
There is an overlook at the highest point of the area, from where you get a
spectacular view of the park and the coast, including the Sucre and Horno de
Pan Oven islets.
Los Frailes Beach park entrance.
Los Frailes Beach is
totally natural without any buildings of infrastructure.
2 Puerto López
Puerto López: Down town, at the main square is a park
visitor center. The town is also the main port of departure for whale watching
tours, visiting Isla de la Plata and scuba-diving. In Puerto López you can find
all food and lodging services you need in a variety of qualities. There is also
a local fleet of small fishing boats and a market on the beach from where the
fresh fish is sold and trucked off to the larger towns.
The local fish market at the beach of Puerto López
3 Agua Blanca
5 km north of Puerto Lopez you will find Agua Blanca in Machalilla National
is a village within the park with archaeological remains of pre-Columbian
pottery and some architectural remains. Archaeological research unearthed the
ruins of the ancestral capital of Señorío Salangóme, which was inhabited by some
5,000 people living in hundreds of houses, which were organized very differently
from Andean dwellings. There is a little archaeological museum and a 2.5 km
The archaeological museum
at Agua Blanca.
Burial urns of the
When at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Spaniards
arrived at the coast of Ecuador, they encountered the Señorío Manteño de
Salangóme village, which was a complex of cities from whose capital, Salangóme,
exercised administrative, political and religious control of the area.
Archaeological research recognizes the present town of Agua Blanca as the former
capital, which, at its peak, consisted of more than 600 buildings and was highly
Spondylus shells, a symbol of prestige, were used as payment in
trading. Its inhabitants dominated the art of navigation and maintained
commercial relations with other indigenous cultures along the coast of South
America, as far north as Mexico and south to from Chile.
The remains of this fascinating native past are found in more
than 500 archaeological sites along the Julcuy Valley. They include very ancient
cultures, predecessors of the Manteño-Huancavilca (500 a.C.-1532 AD), such as:
Bay, Chorrera, Machalilla and Valdivia. The latter is considered the oldest in
South America (2600-1650 BC). Of these cultures, the items that stand out are
the Venus de Valdivia, the Power Seats and the anthropomorphic pottery, which
reflect the physical characteristics of the former inhabitants.
4 San Sebastián
San Sebastián: 10 km south of the Community of Agua
Blanca, is a road that leads to San Sebastian, which can also be reached from
Río Blanco. Along this road you can observe three different life-zones: the
deciduous dry forest, at sea level; the semideciduous dry forest, at higher
elevations and in the highest parts of the hills, the semi-humid evergreen
forest. The area can be visited on horseback.
Salango: 5 km south of Puerto López you will find the
small town of Salango, with a small archaeological museum showcasing remains of
the pre-Columbian cultures of the region.
Isla de la Plata: Located at a distance of 37 km from
Puerto Lopez. According to legend, the name refers to the famous sailor of the
sixteenth century, Sir Francis Drake, who supposedly left his treasure,
conquered from Spanish ships, somewhere hidden on the island.
During the trip to the island you can watch dolphins and with
some luck, Stingrays. From June to September the Humpback Whales, Megaptera
novaeangliae, come to the region to reproduce.
Just like Galapagos, Isla de La Plata has a very interesting
birdlife, which includes nesting colonies of Blue-footed, Red-footed and Masqued
Boobies as well as of Frigate Birds. The organized excursions include a visit to
the islands as well as snorkeling. Small beaches and cliffs are roosts for
oceanic birds. Whale-watching and scuba-diving excursions are organized
A covered picnic open picnic building offers shade. From this
center you begin the excursions to the colonies of birds, and see the natural
Covered picnic areas.
Arrival at a beach at the island.
Guided excursion at the island.
Seals resting at a rocky shore at the foot of a
7 Ahorcado and Salango Islands
Ahorcado and Salango Islands: At
about half an hour from the coast, these islands are
increasingly popular for snorkeling, scuba diving and watching marine birds.
8 Sendero Ecológico el Rocío
Sendero Ecológico el Rocío: Ubicado a 5 km al norte de Machalilla, cercano a
Pueblo Nuevo. Llaman la atención en este sendero los longevos árboles de cascol
y guayacán (hasta 300 años de vida) que se encuentran al interior de un bosque seco
tropical con sus flores amarillos espectaculares.
9 Rocío Ecological Trail
Rocío Ecological Trail: 5
km north of Machalilla, near Pueblo Nuevo is a trail with very old Casco and
Guayacan or Golden Trumpet Trees,
(up to 300 years) in a dry tropical forest which have beautiful spectacular
yellow flowers when in season.
or Golden Trumpet Tree in bloom.
Flowers of the Guayacán
or Golden Trumpet Trees,
There are two different rocky
ecosystems in the coastal zone:
Rocky and coral reefs down to a depth of 25 m.
there is a shallow reef, between the mainland and Isla de la Plata,
the Bajo de Cantagallo, which is a rocky submarine plain.
Humpback Whale, Megaptera
novaeangliae, mates near the Bajo de Cantagallo and it also appears to be
on a migration route of other
marine mammals.These reefs have a great diverse ichthyofauna, as well as
a rich invertebrates fauna and macroalgae flora.
The flora of the park
reflects its position between the rain-drenched areas in the north and desert in
the south which has caused the development of lots of endemic species: More than
150 endemic species have been recorded in the park, but many more are likely to
exist. The large timber trees at the higher
elevations of the Park are threatened by illegal logging.
following vegetation formations are recognized in the park:
Dry coastal srubland 0 - 20
The coastal vegetation
from the beaches up to 20 masl.
Characteristic are associations of species
such as the seaweed, Maytenus octogona and salt marsh, Cryptocarpus
pyriformis, while on cliffs above sea level, Galvezia leucantha can
Dry coastal scrubland.
Dry lowland scrubland dominated
Dry lowland shrubland
(20 - 150 masl):
The shrubs are dry, spiny and low (1 - 6 m high), such as Monvillea diffusa,
Manzanillo, Hyppomane mancinella, Palosanto, Bursera graveolens,
Muyuyo Cordia Lutea, Barbasco Jacquinia sprucei,
intermixed with tall cacti. This vegetation is found in large parts
along the road and also on the Silver and Salango Islands.
Bosque deciduo de tierras Bajas (50–200
masl): Se caracteriza por perder sus
hojas durante la estación seca. El estrato superior no sobrepasa los 6–8 m de altura, excepto por
los árboles de ceibo, que pueden medir hasta 15 m. Las especies más comunes
son: ceibo, Ceiba trichystandra, Armathocereus cartwrigtrhianus y algunas plantas espinosas como el algarrobo,
Prosopis juliﬂora y la acacia, Acacia macracantha, laurel,
Lowland deciduous Woodland
(50-200 masl): Characterized by shedding its leaves during the dry season,
the upper stratum not exceeding 6-8 m in height, except for Ceibo trees, which
can measure up to 15 m. The most common species are Ceibo, Ceiba
trichystandra, Armathocereus cartwrigtrhianus and many thorny plants
like Carob, Prosopis juliflora and Acacia, Acacia macracantha,
Laurel, Cordia alliodora.
Lowland deciduous Woodland.
The predominant vegetation
stratum is formed by shrubs.
densely covered by epiphytes
Lowland forest (100-300 masl): Consisting of small groves left on slopes
where total deforestation has not taken place.The thorny
deciduous undergrowth is very dense and the evergreen tree layer reaches 10-15 m
high.The diversity of this formation
is relatively high with trees like: Triplaris cuminga, Coccoloba mollis,
Trema micrantha, Heliconia latispatha, Piper amalago, Philodendron
Forest on river banks have the characteristics of semideciduous forest. Rich in
species, these forests have lots of strangler trees, Ficus sp. While
species diversity among epiphytes is not all that high, they trees are covered
with dense layers of lichens and bromeliads, even on their leaves. These
epyfytes collect moister from the atmosphere and transfer it to their host.
Four species of endemic orchids have been
reported: Dimerandra rimbaxhii, Erythrodes equa dorensis, Macrolobiun
manabinum, and Rodriguezia strobelli.
lowland forest (450-840 masl): this formation grows at
the higher elevations of San Sebastián and Salaite Mountains. The effect of
drizzling rain and fog allow large trees to grow, and species diversity is much
greater than in the semideciduous forests. The topography is very steep; The
soils are clay loam, shallow and relatively rich in organic matter (7%). The
tree stratum exceeds 20 m high and trees are covered with moss and epiphytes
(ferns, bromeliads and orchids). The undergrowth is very humid and
is covered entirely by ferns of the genus Adiantum and Selaginella,
and other species of the families Piperaceae, Oxalidaceae, Araceae and
Cyclanthaceae and shrubes of the families Ericaceae and Gesneriaceae.
69 species of terrestrial
mammals have been identified.
Northern Tamandua Anteater, Tamandua mexicana.
Striped hog-nosed skunk, Conepatus semistriatus
a common animal in much of Ecuador.
Red Brocket dear,
Mazama americana, common in forested areas along the coast, but shy for
Pumas, Puma concolor, occurs in natural
areas throughout Ecuador.
The most representative mammals are:
Mono Machin Colorado, Cebus albifrons aequatorialis, Red Brocket Deer,
Mazama americana, both Pecary species, Pecari tajacu and Tayassu
pecari, Ocelots, Leopardus pardalis, L. wiedii, Armadillos,
Dasypus novemcinctus, Cabassous centralis, Kinkajou,
Potos flavus, White-nosed coati,
Nasua narica, Procyon cancrivorus,
Sciurus granatensis, Northern Tamandua Anteater,
Brazilian rabbits, Sylvilagus brasiliensis, Lowland Paca, Cuniculus paca,
and Central American Agouti, Dasyprocta punctata.
Collared Peccaris, Pecari tajacu, common in forested areas along the coast, but shy for
Central American Agoutis,
are also common along the coast in forested areas.
The most abundant and
diverse mammals order is that of bats, with 21 species.
The most common are:Artibeus fraterculus, A. hartii, Carollia
brevicauda, Platyrrhinus helleri y Myotis sp.
, followed by the rodents.
As for the
mammals that inhabit the low zone can be mentioned: White-tailed Deer,
Odocoileus virginianus, Sechuran fox,
Lycalopex sechurae, Guayaquil squirrel,
Sciurus stramineus and bats.It
should be noted that many highland species move down during the rainy season.
area of the park is frequented by 12 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins):
Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Sperm Whale, Physeter
macrocephalus, Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, Common
Dolphin, Delphinus delphis, Pilot Whale, Globice phalamacrorhynchus,
Spotted Dolphin, Stenella attenuata.
Occasionally Galapagos Seals are seen on Isla de la Plata.
En el Parque se han registrado 270 especies de aves, que incluyen endémicas
del Chocó, tumbesinas y de los bosques nublados andino.
Las principales especies de la
zona alta son: perdiz, Crypturellus soui, gavilán valdivia, Herpetotheres
cachinnans, pava, Penelope purpurascens, loro de cabeza negra, Pionus
chalcopterus, colibríes, Thalurania colombica, Damophila julie, trogones
Trogon melanurus, T. collaris, T. violaceus, tucán, Aulacorhynchus
haematopygus, carpintero negro, Dryocopus lineatus, trepatroncos, castaño,
fuliginosa, bían bían, Euphoniala niirostris. En la zona baja
destacan especies típicas de los bosques secos, tales como: caracara cretado, Polyborus
plancus, tucupilla, Columbina cruziana, viviña, Forpus coelestis, pedrote,
Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Ara severa.
Americano Ostrich, Haematopus
palliatus, frecuents the beaches.
Seabirds are divided into
three groups: shore birds, coastal birds and oceanic birds.
In the first two groups: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis,
Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii, Great Ffrigate Bird, Fregata
magnifcens, Osprey, Pandion haliaetus.
boobies feed mainly on fish and squid at sea for which you see them often diving
into the water from considerable heights.Both species form large colonies. Birds of the
order Procellariformes are exclusively pelagic or oceanic birds that they feed
in the ocean and only fly to land to nest.
A good example is the Galapagos Albatross, Diomedea irrorata,
which live in small colonies at Isla de la Plata.
breed on Isla de la Plata.
Brown Pelicans, Pelecanus occidentalis,
are common along the entire Pacific coast.
terrestrial reptiles are the lizards, Tropidurus occipitalis, Sternocercus
iridescens, Ameiva septemlineata, snakes equis, Bothrops asper and Northern
Leptodeira.Also occurs the Green
Iguana, Iguana iguana, a common species along the Pacific coast.
Of the four species of marine turtles
in Ecuador the first 3 nest on the beaches of the park:
Chelonia mydas agassizii;
Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata;
Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys
Turtle has is known from Isla de La Plata.
Also living in the park, the only species of sea snake,
Green turtles, Chelonia
mydas, submerge at Isla de la Plata as
operators feed them.
The Green, Iguana Iguana, is very common
along the Pacific coast, including in the park.
Given, the dry climate in
most of the park, amphibian diversity is low with only 15 species, which
include: Scinax quinquefasciatus, Trachycephalus venulosus and
Leptodactylus ventrimaculatus, Ceratophrys stolzmanni. Recently
new endemic species were found: Eleutherodactylus walkeri, Engystomops
pustulatus, E. montubio, Epipedobates machalilla, Hyloxalus infraguttatus.
The ichthyofauna of the park can be divided into: reef, pelagic and
demersal (bottom) fish. 143 reef fish species have been recorded, 94%
were bony fish and the rest were cartilaginous (spine, mainly sharks) fish.
There is a large variety of invertebrates in
the sandy and rocky intertidal zones which is a different ecosystem with many
species that only occur in that zone.
park is located
at a distance of 435km (8 hours) from Quito, (185 km) (3.5 hours)
from Guayaquil and 90 km (1,5 hours) from Manta. The most convenient way
to get there from Quito, is to fly to Manta and from there travel to PuertoLopez in private transport.
is by the roads connecting Puerto López - Jipijapa to the north and La Libertad
to the south. These will get you to all points of
In Puerto Lopez, many tour operators sell excursions to Isla de
la Plata, leaving between 9:30 and 10:00 and returning around 16:00.
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.