Quito Guide



Machalillatours in puerto lopez, isla de la plata, avistamiento de ballenas, montañita, spanish school


Administrative region Manabí, Guayas

Criterios A1, A2 (045),
A3 (EPC)

Protection National Park, Place Ramsar, Private Reservation, are not protected marinas

Coordinated 01°31’S 80°42’O
Approximately area. 60.000 ha
Altitude 0-500 m

Approximate limit


Machalilla National Park is located in the Manabi province and covers about 55,000 ha.

The area is diverse and consists of three different areas: the north sector, the south sector, and the Isla de la Plata, “Silver Island”. The north sector covers the area between southern and northern Puerto Cayo Machalilla (12,290 ha) and covers an area of more than 3 km parallel to the coast.

The south sector covers Machalilla between the south and north of Puerto Lopez, including the Island Salango (34,393 ha) and covers the area more than 3 km parallel to the coast and around the island. The Isla de la Plata is considered as a separate part of the park due to the differences in species composition and habitats.

The Machalilla National Park also includes other remnants of vegetation located in and around the park. Cerro Achi is on the road between Jipijapa and Puerto Cayo and is part of the coastal range north of Machalilla National Park. Also included in the national park is part of the Ayampe River Basin located in the middle of the mountain range Chongón-Colonche. The latter basin is on the border of Manabi and Guayas and is located in the Cantalapiedra Natural Reserve of 320 ha. It is worth noting that this area contains the archaeological remains of the most important cultures of the Ecuadorian coast, for example the Valdivia.

The Machalilla National Park and the surrounding forest on the highest altitudes include areas of rainforest drizzle, similar to the Andean cloud forest. The forest in the lower slopes becomes semi-deciduous forest and deciduous forest, and the forest toward the coast becomes dry scrub where vegetation is scrubby and stunted. Here exists species of cactus caudones or candelabra cactus and the most representative trees belong to the families Mimosaceae and Capparidaceae. In the riparian forest are clusters of bamboo and cane as matapalos large trees (Ficus spp.).

The marine habitats include cliffs, sandy beaches, rocky shores and low, rugged continental islands. Inside the park there are some human populations which have areas of subsistence farming and livestock. The inhabitants are mainly engaged in fishing. However, in many cases tourism holds great importance for the local economy. The remnants around the park are embedded in a matrix of disturbed areas, dominated by maize, banana, sugarcane and cattle pastures.

Some previously deforested areas have been abandoned and are now recovering. The Nature Foundation has implemented several conservation projects in Machalilla National Park within the “Parks in Danger Program” sponsored by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). This project includes research, monitoring, conservation and local development. Other institutions like the Center for Conservation Data (CDC-Ecuador), the Institute for Applied Ecology of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (ECOLAP) and Yaque Pacha have conducted various research projects, particularly concerning marine species and habitats. The park includes the site where the "Rapid Assessment Program" was implemented by Conservation International (CI) (Parker and Carr 1992) and this site has been visited by many ornithologists.

The Ayampe River has not been well studied, although there are some conservation projects that emphasize the Cantalapiede Natural Reserve. The development includes organic orchards, bamboo cane project management and nature tourism carried out by the Amingay Corporation. It is unknown whether there are research or conservation projects at Cerro Achi and Rio Chico.