Machalilla National Park - 5 days
Located mid-way along the Ecuadorian coastline, this park was created with the vision of preserving adjacent land and sea ecosystems, including the island "Isla de la Plata" (the Poor Man's Galapagos) and Salango. Machalilla is one of the primary reserves for tropical dry forest on Ecuador's coast. The park is curiously a meeting point for the two main marine currents which occur in the Southern Pacific; this has created four distinct life zones in a relatively small area, ranging from desert scrub to pre-mountainous cloud- and rainforest. Many of the species found in these zones are considered endemic. In addition to natural resources, the park boasts a unique archeological collection which provides invaluable cultural and historical clues about coastal pre-Colombian civilizations such as the Manteo, Machalilla and Valdivia, the latter being one of the oldest cultures in South America (5000 - 3000 BC). Aside from appreciating the unique flora, fauna and archaeological sites, one can also enjoy the park's clean beaches and visit nearby fishing- villages.