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Ecuador » General Information » Province of Manabí »

Machalilla National Park

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A great destination during the month of July is the MACHALILLA NATIONAL PARK that holds various attractions: Isla de la Plata off the coast of Puerto López, Los Frailes Beach, the Archeological Site of AguaBlanca, Salango, and the Beaches of Puerto Rico and Puerto Cayo.

"Machalilla" takes its name from one of the precolumbian cultures that inhabited this area. The Valdivia, Chorrera and Manteña Cultures also inhabited this land of a template climate and extraordinary landscape where arqueological remains are still found within the park, and can be admired in situ especially at Agua Blanca and Salango. The park ocupies 136,000 acres. It has an average temperature of 75 degrees fahrenheit and by the influence of the Humboldt Current in the Pacific conserves the amazing tropical humid and tropical dry forests.

HOW TO REACH MACHALILLA
If you want to travel by land, check out our road map of the Province of Manabí. By air you can take TAME airlines to the city of Portoviejo, (US$87.44) from Quito. The airport at Portoviejo offers car rental service and taxis also.

ISLA DE LA PLATA
s1.jpg" alt="Isla de la Plata, Ecuador" hspace="8" vspace="8" align="right" title="Isla de la Plata, Ecuador">From Portoviejo to Puerto López and the surrounding areas, where you can stay at ecological hostals, it takes approximately two and a half hours by car. At Puerto López, you take a two hour boat ride to Isla de la Plata. On this route, during the navegation you have a high possibility of viewing dolphins and whales.

The locals tell that the name ISLA DE LA PLATA (Silver Island), was given to the Island because the pirate Francis Drake at the end of the XIV century, took treasures from the Spanish ships and hid them on this island. According to the legend, much of this treasure was never claimed and is still hidden there.

Isla de la Plata is a favorite spot for scuba-diving this time of the year, because even though the temperatures are at a cool 60 to 65 degrees fahrenheit, the sea temperature is higher than 68 ºF. The Island is surrounded by Coral Reefs so the marine life is exciting and plentiful. There is an operator in Quito, EXPLORATUR DIVING tel. 460-790
(exploratur@andinanet.net, that offers scuba-diving: good equipment, PADI instructors, guides, and boat service to the Island.

The Island has two guided hiking routes, both with awesome sights. You will encounter an interesting colony of blue-footed boobies, masked boobies, frigate birds, and albatrosses. The plant life is also interesting and the guides are well versed on the subject. You must purchase a 5 day pass to the MACHALILLA NATIONAL PARK for a fee of TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS. With this ticket you can visit all the sites of the National Park.

AGUA BLANCA COMMUNITY
Fifty two families make up the Agua Blanca Community. The small village is located 7.5 miles to the north of Puerto López and 3 miles off the main highway. The people of this community live in a very similar way to their ancestors, the Manteña Culture that inhabited this land from 800 to 1532 DC.

There is a small museum where you will find some precolumbian ceramics and pictures of some of the current inhabitants with the same facial features as those found on the ceramics. The guides are locals who proudly tell how the community survives without land divisions among them and how their environment has been practically unchanged for years.

From the museum, the guide takes you on a walk for over about a mile . You will encounter birds such as the hornero with its unique nests, the beautiful motmot, iguanas on tree branches, alovely clean river valley, arqueological areas, a sulfurous lagoon, and a breathtaking view point. You will see the funeral urns in situ with the human bones and skeletons exactly as they were found.

The Manteña Culture buried their dead in urns dressed with their ceremonial clothes and adorned with earrings, necklaces, etc. In the arqueological area you can also admire in situ remains of the ceremonial temples, houses and squares. In the temples you can see pieces of the famed stone seats (small stone thrones) used by the shamans or spiritual leaders of the community.