Machalilla National Park is located in the province of Manabi and covers about 55,000 hectares.
The territory is discontinuous and comprises three sectors: north, between the south of Puerto Cayo and the North of Machalilla (12 290 hectares, more than 3 km parallel to the coast), southern sector, from the south of Machalilla to the North of Puerto Lopez, including the Island of Salango, (34 393 hectares, more than 3 km parallel to the coast and around the island), and finally, the Isla de la Plata, which has been considered as a separate area due to its differences in species and environment. Within the Machalillaterrain also includes other remnants of vegetation located around the park. Cerro Achi, lies on the road between Jipijapa and Puerto Cayo, and is part of the Coastal Range to the north of the Machalilla National Park.
It also includes part of Ayampe River Basin, in the central part of the range-ColoncheChongón. The latter basin is at the boundary between Manabi and Guayas, and here you’ll find the Cantalapiedra Nature Reserve of 320 hectares . Note that in this area exist archaeological remains of the some of the most important cultures of the Ecuadorian coast, such as the Valdivia.
Machalilla National Park and surrounding forests include areas ofrainforest similar to the Andean cloud forests located at the top of the ridge. On the lower slopes the forest becomes deciduous and semi-deciduous and, and towards the coast, becomes dry scrubland where vegetation is bushy and squat. There are species of “caudones “cactus or candelabra cactus, and the most represented tree families areMimosaceae and Capparidaceae. In the riparian forest, groups of trees and large bamboo cane such asmatapalos (Ficus spp.) flourish. Other areas are dominated by “cade” palms or tagua palms and are generally the areas more affected by civilization.
Species diversity in Machalilla National Park and surrounding areas is high. There have been over 270 species, including endemic Choco tumbesinas and typical Andean cloud forest. In addition, you will find a large number of globally threatened species and near threatened (16), as well as several endangered species only seen in Ecuador. Some of these species have significant populations in the area and others have additional records in very few places in the country, such as the Acestrurabombus, and CarduelisberlepschiAcestrurasiemiradzki.
The area is home to a great variety of mammals and other wildlife groups. Some species have significant populations in the park, including species that are now quite rare on the coast, such as Pantheraonca (NT), Alouattapalliata, Cebuscapucinus, Leopardus spp., Procyoncancrivorus, Eirabarbara and Sciurusstramineus. Sea turtles nest on the beaches of the park and humpback whales (Megapteranovaeangliae, VU), visit the coast, where it is also important to the diversity of fish, particularly those associated with coral reefs. Regarding the herpetofauna, there is almost endemic amphibian species in the area, Colostethusmachalilla (NT) plus arcosaePorthidium also endemic, along with a remarkable diversity of other amphibians and reptiles.
Machalilla National Park was established in July 1979, and in the AyampeRiver basin you will find Cantalapiedra Nature Reserve, managed by the Corporation Amingay.The corporation made many important independent conservation activities throughout the Park. Machalilla National Park was declared a Ramsar site in 1990.
The entrance to the Agua Blanca Commune is 5 ½ miles north of the town of Puerto Lopez. The land is scattered with remnants of pottery and architectural structures can still be recovered.
The Recreation Area “Los Frailes” is south of the town of Machalilla. This is a particularly beautiful area with its high cliffs andunspoiled beaches and rock and sand which you will reach by crossing a beautiful dry forest where there are species of flora and fauna typical of the area.
Five kilometers south of Puerto Lopez is the small town of Salango, important for its Archaeological Museum showing remains of pre-Columbian cultures of the region. There also exists a rescue center for animals that can no longer survive in the wild.
La Isla de la Plata is an hour and a half by boat from Puerto Lopez. It has only been open to the public for 10 years and is very well protected and thus in excellent condition of conservation.
The most utilized access to San Sebastian is a long hike that leads to the community of Agua Blanca (approximately 10 km. further) but can also be reached from Rio Blanco.
The“Los Piqueros” lookout is located minutes south of Puerto Lopez, and boasts a stunning view of the surrounding coasts. A further 2 km. to the south is the rock "Punta Mala", a very distinctive geological formation.
The islands of “El Ahorcado” and “Salango” are reached in about 30 minutes by boat but you are not allowed to land on them. Mostly they are an attractive area for diving due to thethe presence of rocky reefs.
“La Playita” is a beautiful recreational beach regularly open from April to October. The rest of the year it is closed to the public to protect sea turtles that use it as a nesting ground.
SOURCE: Ministry of Environment
Galeria Fotografica Parque Nacional Machalilla