Tropical Ecosystems Under Threat
Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights
Educational features: Environmental Science, Ecology, Conservation
Explore the tropical ecosystems of the Ecuadorian Coast, going from the Mangrove forests, one of the world’s most threatened tropical ecosystems, to one of the largest tropical dry forests remaining in the world at the Machalilla National Park.
- Lecture series by recognized local experts or professors of the most prestigious local universities.
- Explore the tropical dry forest, mangroves and marine ecosystem.
- Blue and Red footed boobies, Masked boobies at Isla de la Plata Excursion ( Poor’s men Galapagos)
- Hike through one of the last remaining tropical dry forest.
- Service Learning activities
- Learn about the ecological importance of tropical forests and how these affect the global climate trends.
- Learn about the current threats to the tropical ecosystems.
Visits might be restricted during the months of January to April, due to rainy season
Itinerary – Day by Day
Day 1: Arrival in Guayaquil
Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive in Guayaquil and transfer to the Hotel for overnight.
Day 2: Introduction to the tropical ecosystem.
Visit Cerro Blanco Protected Forest, located only 15 kilometers west of Guayaquil. Cerro Blanco has an extension of 6000 hectares of dry tropical forest; it is home to 213 species of birds such as the Great green macaw (Ara ambigua guayaquilensis) a symbol of the reserve and one of the endangered species. While hiking the forest you will learn and discover the importance, uses and secrets of this great ecosystem. You will also learn about its threats, and the conservation projects held by nonprofit organizations to protect this important environment. The Tropical dry forest is one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems; there is only 2 percent of the world’s tropical dry forest remaining. Enjoy a box lunch in the area and return to Guayaquil. Lecture in the hotel: Main threats to Tropical Ecosystems, by a local expert. Evening visit to the Waterfront of Guayaquil to learn about the history of the city. Enjoy welcome dinner in a local restaurant. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 3: Exploring the Mangrove Forest – Organic farm.
Visit Manglares Churute Reserve, located approximately 46 km / 29 miles away Guayaquil. It has one of the best preserved mangrove forests in the world in approximately 50,000 hectares of different eco-systems, including: coastal tropical dry rainforest, mangrove forest, and subtropical dry rainforest. Wildlife at Manglares Churute includes armadillos, white-fronted Capuchins, mantled howler monkeys, tigrillos, ocelots and bottle nose dolphins. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded on site, including woodpeckers, herons and ducks. Today you will also visit a local organic family farm to learn about the process of turning cacao into chocolate, you will also enjoy a delicious coastal style lunch. Mangrove forests are one of the world’s most threatened tropical ecosystems, according to WWF more than 35% of the world’s mangroves are already gone. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 4: From Guayaquil to Machalilla National Park.
Travel approximately 4 hours from Guayaquil to the Manabí Province. Arrive in Ayampe, a small village with less than 500 habitants and surrounded by the last humid tropical forest remaining near the sea. Enjoy lunch in the area and continue to visit the headquarters of Equilibrio Azul, a non-profit organization created in light of the urgent need to obtain information to conserve Ecuador’s ecosystems and marine resources. Here, you will learn from the local volunteers the hard work they do in order to conserve our natural recourses and the invaluable experience they gain while volunteering. Continue to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 5: Machalilla National Park Excursion
Hike in the Machalilla National Park one of the largest tropical dry forest on the coast of Ecuador, threatened by a number of factors, including deforestation, commercial fishing, and poaching. The park occupies 40,000 acres of land and 20,000 hectares of ocean, including la Isla de la Plata. The park combines an amazing ecosystem featuring long stretches of tropical dry forest interspersed with sections of humid cloud forests in the upper reaches of the territory. The vegetation at the park includes Opuntia cactus, Palo Santo trees and kapok trees. The hike will end at the Los Frailes Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Participate in a beach cleaning activity to help in the conservation of this wonderful environment. Enjoy some free time at the beach and return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 6: Excursion to Isla de la Plata
Drive to Puerto Lopez where you’ll board a boat and enjoy an approximately 2 hour journey by sea to Isla de La Plata which translates to Silver Island. According to local legend, the name was given to the Island because the famous pirate Francis Drake is believed to have hidden treasures taken from Spanish ships on the island where they remain hidden today. During the months of June to September you will have the opportunity to observe humpback whales on your way to the Island. Humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to tropical waters during these months to mate and give birth to their calves. Upon arrival at the Island, you’ll hike and explore the Flora and Fauna including a chance to see, Blue footed Bobbies, Frigate Birds, Red footed Bobbies, Nazca Bobbies, and Red Billed Tropic Birds. Also, during the months of April – November, have the opportunity to see nesting waved albatrosses that only nest here and in the Galapagos Islands. Return to the Puerto Lopez in the afternoon and then continue to the hotel. Before dinner enjoy a group session to discuss about all the things you have learned so far and why you consider it is important to conserve our natural environment. (Meals; B, L, D)
Day 7: Pacoche Wildlife refuge – San Lorenzo fishermen town
Pacoche is a protected area that boasts approximately 5,000 hectares of tropical rain forests and dry forests on land, plus four miles of ocean extending out from the coastline. As a result of its location (in a hilly coastal area) Pacoche has a great variety of ecosystems. The upper parts are covered by misty evergreen “garua” forests, where howler monkeys can be spotted, there is also a greater variety of birds, more than 152 species of birds have been registered here. The lower areas, closer to the sea are drier, with extensive areas of cactus and shrubs, also some giant ceibo trees. Continue to Liguiqui, a beach specially preferred by surfers, as it is known for having one of the best left-waves (point break) along the Ecuadorian coast. Visit also San Lorenzo beach, frequented by some species of sea turtles. Return to your hotel. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 8: Palo Santo Factory – Agua Blanca – Guayaquil
Today visit the Palo Santo Factory; Palo Santo is the name of a local tree and it is used by the community to prepare some curative extracts and oils. Continue to Agua Blanca, a community established as part of the pre-Colombian Manteña culture over 1,200 years ago, it is now the only surviving indigenous group in this region. Take a walk at the community to learn about their ancestors and archeological background. You are also welcome to take a soothing dip in the sulfur pool and cover yourself in the black mud to enjoy its dermatological benefits (Showers available). Enjoy lunch at the community and in the afternoon start your trip back to Guayaquil. The rest of the evening is free to pack and prepare for your return flight. (Meals: B,L,D)
Day 9: Departure.
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home or to your next destination
- Operates from/to Guayaquil
- Minimum 8 participants, Maximum 20 participants.
- Program can be modified or adapted according to your specific study group.
The program includes
Private transportation, expert local guide, accommodation & meals according to itinerary detail (menu meals), visit and entrance fee to mentioned places
The program does not include
International airfare, personal expenses, and gratuities.
Ready to get started? Contact us to book your trip.