Machalilla National Park

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Located in the southern province of Manabí, the beautiful Parque Nacional Machalilla is Ecuador´s only coastal national park. The park occupies 40,000 acres of land and 20,000 hectares of ocean, including a number offshore islands, of which Isla de la Plata and Salango are the most important. The park is located near to the tiny fishing village of Machalilla, to the north, and the larger and more developed port town of Puerto Lopez, to the south.

Established in 1979, Machalilla National Park near Puerto Lopéz rests along the Pacific coast. It incorporates beaches, fog forest, dry forest, small islands and two larger islands, Salango and Isla de la Plata, the latter named for a legendary hoard of silver left by Sir Francis Drake.

The influence of the warm Humboldt Current in the Pacific ocean helps to preserve the amazing combined ecosystem of the park, which features long stretches of tropical dry forest interspersed with sections of humid cloud forests in the upper reaches of the territory. The park protects most of the remaining preserves of this ecosystem to be found in Ecuador.

In 1990 the park was named an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention. Wildlife includes armadillos, two species of monkeys and birds of more than 270 species.

Many of the large mammals in Machalilla National Park are regionally and locally endangered. Machalilla National Park is the only habitat outside of the Galapagos Islands of waved albatross. The ocean regions of the park also provide a breeding ground for humpback whales. Vegetation includes opuntia cactus, palo santo trees, kapok trees and the algaroba tree.

From December to May, it is sunny and hot, with frequent short rainstorms. From June to November it is cooler and often overcast. The park is best visited during the month of July when the weather is still somewhat sunny and the whales are beginning to arrive.

An on-site center for educating visitors about the ecology of the park and conservation issues was opened as a result, and the park has also hired community members to serve as guards, thus increasing local awareness of the importance of the park and its ecosystem.

PHOTOS MACHALILLA PARK

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Machalilla National Park