For wildlife watching, outdoor activities like surfing and hiking or just relaxing on the beach, this is a great place to be.
A large portion of banana cultivation occurs in the province of El Oro, its capital city Machala is the main service center of the industry but also base for trips to the rustic but matchless mangrove-covered island of Jambeli, the charming picturesque hillside town of Zaruma at 1200 meters above sea level is another highlight of the province, declared a national heritage site in Ecuador and has applied for international status through UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, for the more than 200 houses built around the picturesque town square during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, all characterized by a coastal architecture of wooden structures comprising decorative railings, lattices, and balconies or visit the Puyango Paleontological and Protector Forest, formed 300 million years ago where sediments formed a big tree forest of the Araucaria Family occupying 2,658 hectares shared by El Oro and the neighbor Loja province.
In contrast to this dynamic metropolis, Ecuador southern coast, stretching south to the border with Peru and north to Puerto Cayo in southern Manabi, is largely rural and quiet, sporting a mix of mangrove swamps, shrimp farms and sandy beaches dotted with dusty villages and low-key resorts. On the South of Guayaquil, the coastal highway heads 250km down to Peru, passing a few minor attractions on the way.
History & Culture
This archeological zone was originally occupied by the most ancient cultures, such as the Las Vegas and the Valdivia. Some of the most important archeological sites have impressive museums attached to them, including the fabulous Amantes de Sumpa, near Santa Elena, sporting the tomb of two eight-thousand-year-old skeletons locked in an embrace.
El Oro Province
Is the southernmost of Ecuador’s coastal provinces, named due to its historically important gold production. It borders the Peruvian Tumbes Region on the west. Famous for its abundant production of high-quality bananas, El Oro is a primarily agriculture, commercial province and is home to one of the nation’s major ports, Puerto Bolivar, located seven kilometers from the capital city center of Machala.
Facing the Gulf of Guayaquil, Machala is a farming and industrial city, thriving with commercial and banking activities. Recognized internationally as the Banana Capital of the World, Machala is the economic hub of southern Ecuador. The center of the city is dotted with various parks, cathedrals, museums and monuments of architectural interest. Ideally situated, with a diverse culture and numerous special attractions, Machala amply rewards those who take the time to explore it.
Archipielago de Jambelí
The archipelago of Jambelí lies off the coast of El Oro province, in the south of the Gulf of Guayaquil. This group of mangrove-clad islands offers quiet, hospitable beaches, rich in vegetation and kept in a perfect state. The islands can be easily reached from Puerto Bolivar thanks to an efficient boat transportation service or the small port Puerto Hualtaco from which motorboats leave to the archipelago of Jambelí, the port’s seafood restaurants are particularly popular for their delicious flavours.
Puyango Petrified Forest
Puyango Petrified Forest is a fossil reserve in the basin of the River Puyango. The area covers 2,658 hectares and its sediment is divided into four extremely old geological formations (Zapotillo, Ciano, Ambin and Progreso) from the late Cretaceous period. This area is special because of its large deposits rich in petrified trunks and leaves from the Mesozoic Era, mixed in with fossils from a large number of invertebrates, including bivalve molluscs, ammonites and echinoderms, or starfish.
The petrified trees are from the Araucarioxylon family and are nearly 100 million years old. This area is one of the largest collections of petrified wood on the planet. The leaf fossils are from primitive plants that are similar to modern-day ferns and palms. According to experts, the number of petrified trunks in such a small area makes Puyango one of the most varied collections of its kind, comparable in content and size to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
Zaruma is a picturesque area, perched on a hill, has some charming old wooden buildings and a lovely timber church erected in 1912. Some of the people in town, who are great influenced of white-skinned, blue-eyed descendants of Spanish colonialists, still work in some of the mining gold activity, while others mines like “Sexmo mine” dating back to pre-Columbian days is rather open for tours. Also, there are remains nearby, told to be part of the well-populated tribes before the Inca invasion are some of the options to see in the area.