The Ecuador Chronicles - 2009-21
Road Trip Part V - On to Puerto Lopez;
Machalilla National Park;
And A Tale of Three Hotels
We headed south from Bahia; our destination was Puerto Lopez, a small fishing village south of Manta that is located in the middle of the Machalilla National Park. Along the coast south of Bahia there are numerous flat, green low lying fields - rice production.
We passed through Manta, a beautiful port city. With a major port expansion underway and a proposed oil refinery, Manta may become the largest port on the South American Pacific coast (There will be a future Chronicle covering Manta itself).
Machalilla National Park
South of Manta you enter the Machalilla National Park, which covers land and ocean areas including Isla de la Plata, known as the Poor Man's Galapagos. Isla de la Plata has flora and fauna very similar to the Galapagos and can be visited on a day boat trip for a tiny fraction the cost - and you may see whales. The park also is noted for preserving the strange tropical dry forest, archaeological sites dating back to 3000 BC, and archaelogical museums - including the one at the Agua Blanca indigenous village. Some areas are at an elevation and position to receive moisture from the Pacific - a micro-climate of tropical green. Horseback riding and hiking are available in the park.
The Tropical Dry Forest
The tropical dry forest stands out along this part of the coast, both inside and outside the park; it is incredibly beautiful - to the Trained Eye. To the Untrained Eye, however, it may appear to be a bunch of dry sticks with a few disneyesque green cartoon trees popping through here and there. Or as Dalynda so delicately put it:
"Did you say this area is protected.....it looks like they just burned it down and did not quite finish the job".
I am sure this is a case of beauty in the eye of the beholder - take a look for yourself:
Note the Strange Green Trees
Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder
Or Perhaps Just Beauty...to Anyone
And Who Wouldn't Enjoy A Drive Down Such A Coast
Enough Botany Lesson - Where do You Stay
Most of the Ecuador coast is undeveloped, but Puerto Lopez has three truly unique hotel options. All of these hotels can arrange activities around the National Park.
Puerto Lopez - A Fishing Village
The Mantaraya Lodge is located a couple of miles south of the Village. It sits up on on a hill with a distant view of the Pacific. It is architecturally interesting - Rammed Earth construction gives it a Mediterranean feel. Each room has an outside area. The restaurant is very good.
The Mantaraya Lodge
The Hotel Pacifico is right in the Village, right across the street from the beach - fishing boats bobbing in the water. There numerous small restaurants in the Village.
Hotel Pacifico - Get a Room with a Large Ocean View Balcony Area
See the Fishing Boats Bobbing
The Hosteria Mandala is about 200 yards north along the beach - an easy walk from the Village. This is an Eco-Lodge in the best sense of the term. It is owned by an Italian / Swiss couple who started it from scratch years ago. The cabinas are set amongst truly amazing beautiful gardens - really a beautiful, artistic wonderland (Oh well - Botany again).
Hosteria Mandala - Beach
Restaurant - Outside Area
Gardens - The Owner Says It Takes 20 Years to Create a Real Garden
At Seven Years I Think It Is Well on the Way
Hosteria Mandala - The Owners
Would you like to come Ecuador for A Botany Lesson -
Find out how at Live Well Ecuador: