Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Transfer to Mantaraya Lodge
After a 30 minute flight from Quito to Manta you will be met by a lodge staff member and transferred by car to Machalilla National Park (a 3 hour drive). On the road, we will stop to visit the legendary Panama hat makers of Montecristi, where you will learn about the fascinating history and art of this notable coast town weaving tradition. We continue to Machalilla National Park through roads that will that offer splendid views of coastal Manabí, one of Ecuador’s largest and most spirited provinces. Upon your arrival at Mantaraya Lodge, a superb lunch will be waiting.
Different activities to choose
In the afternoon, your guide introduces you to a range of activities to choose from. After dinner you will be briefed on the Machalilla National Park and information about the activities of the following day.
The Machalilla National Park is the only national park on the Ecuadorian coast (all other areas are reserves and recreational areas). It was founded in 1979 and protects about 50 km of the coastline, and a total area of about 56,000 ha of tropical rainforest, 40,000 ha of cloud forests, and more than 20,000 ha of the ocean.
In the upper regions of the Machalilla National Park, humid rainforest dominates the picture, with the trees typical for this region, such as the fig, the balsam tree and the laurel tree. Large columnar cacti grow on the hills and a total of 150 endemic plants, including 4 orchids, are registered. Within the forests are around 270 different species of birds, such as parrots, sparrow parrots and parakeets, but also coastal birds, such as frigate birds and boobies. Also at home are armadillos, howler monkeys, ocelots, white-fronted capuchins monkeys, deer (Great Mazama mazama americana), crab raccoons and other mammals (69 species in total).
Village of Agua Blanca
Delve in to the heart of the Machalilla National Park, where you will find the village of Agua Blanca. Here are archaeological remains of the unique Salango tribe, which belonged to the Manteño civilization. With the help of various organisations, the community has developed several projects to rescue the ruins. The museum illustrates pre-Columbian cultures, the local way of life and the natural history of the region. A walking path takes you through the forest, where you can observe the wildlife that calls this area home.
Activities around Agua Blanca
There are a great number of activities in the area for you enjoy:
* For more adventure-seeking guests, there is an opportunity to explore the San Sebastian cloud forest on horseback.
* In addition to the walking tours, we can arrange a bike ride through the Buena Vista Valley's dirt roads (about 5 km), departing from the entrance road to Agua Blanca and arriving at the archeological museum. * The tougher option is to take the Julcuy road departing from the Buena Vista Valley for 40 km ride that ends along the Jipijapa-Guayaquil highway, where a van will be waiting to transfer you back to the hotel. * These are optional excursions and activities not included in the cost of the program; please contact your booking agent to program these activities in advance.
Isla de la Plata
Explore the wonders of the sea on the Isla de la Plata - the silver island. Legend has it that the English buccaneer Sir Francis Drake hid a silver treasure in this nature reserve, home to seabirds and other marine animals. The adventure begins in the harbor of Puerto Lopez, where you board the private yacht Mantaraya. The drive to the island takes about one and a half hours. You will hike with your naturalist guide along the island to learn more about the nature, geological history and culture of the Isla de La Plata. You will have enough time to snorkel afterwards in Drake Bay. Here, you can relax or swim on the beach. Lunch and water are offered during the excursion.
- If you are interested in diving, please let us know in advance so that the necessary preparations can be made. Isla de la Plata has excellent diving spots where you can spot fish, coral reefs, rays and occasionally sharks. Please bear in mind, that diving is an optional activity that is not included in the cost of the program.
In the afternoon, your boat will take you back to Puerto Lopez where your private van will be waiting to transfer you back to Mantaraya Lodge. After dinner, your excursion leader will offer a briefing on the activities for the next day.
Los Frailes Beach
The rocky cliffs, bays and wide beaches of southern Manabí are certainly one of the main attractions of the country. Today you will visit the pristine white sand beach of Los Frailes on one of Machalilla National Park's three large sheltered shores. This beach is a nesting place of at least two sea turtle species (Hawks and Green Sea Turtle). Between January and May you can watch them here. It is best to take a long beach walk. In Los Frailes you can relax, swim or snorkel and enjoy the vibrant underwater world.
Village of Salango
Today you visit the fishing village of Salango. This small town south of Puerto Lopez has an interesting archaeological museum with ceramics of the last 5000 years. You will have the opportunity to snorkel in the project "Parcela Marina". After dinner you will receive instructions about the activities of the next days.
On the last day you visit the cloud forest, home to more than 20 different species of birds. You can learn more about the local flora and the ecosystem. Enjoy Lunch back at the lodge.
Transfer to the airport
You will have some time to pack and get ready to leave Machalilla National Park. The trip to Manta or Portoviejo Airport takes approximately 2 hours by car. On your arrival to the airport, lodge staff will take care of your ticket and boarding pass for your return to Quito.