Who has not dreamed about visiting a fairy tale forest? Those magical places that seem to be taken from some wallpaper are always thought to be from another part of the world far from where we are. But for Ecuadorians, the luck and joy of admiring these landscapes is right in the backyard, with an amazing event that only Mother Nature is capable of presenting to us.
We speak of nothing more and nothing less than the flowering of the guayacanes, an event that occurs year after year in the parish of Mangahurco, canton Zapotillo, Province of Loja after the first rains. It leaves behind a beautiful sea of a yellow so intense that it exceeds the threshold of the sensible.
How is it possible to achieve so much yellow saturation, contrasting with an traditionally dry forest? If you need to see to believe, then we show you all the necessary information so you can get to know this great natural event in Mangahurco.
Mangahurco Travel Video:
How to get to Mangahurco:
Traveling in a private car is undoubtedly the best option for comfort, time and additional travel. From Guayaquil the route to take is Guayaquil – Arenillas – Alamor – Mangahurco. To avoid setbacks, it is best to travel in a 4×4 truck or car, since the road from Alamo to Mangahurco is unpaved.
But if you do not have a private vehicle and your only alternative is by bus, keep in mind the following information:
From Guayaquil, at the bus terminal, take the bus at the Coop. Loja bound for Alamor. The bus costs $10.25 and leaves between 7:30AM and 9:30AM. The journey time is 5 and a half hours. Once in Alamor, a single car leaves with direct route to Mangahurco at 11AM for $6.
If you are in the city of Loja, in the Coop. Union Cariamanga, take the only bus bound for Paletillas at 2PM. The cost of the ticket is $10 and the journey is approximately 6 hours. Once you arrive in Paletillas, there are several vans that depart to Mangahurco for $2.50.
Where to sleep in Mangahurco:
Well, if you have not yet bought a tent, this trip is the perfect excuse to do so. Since it is the most viable option. Mangahurco is still developing its capacity for tourism to receive the great demand of people attracted by this unmatched event. So, the hotel offer is still very limited, besides being quite pricey for the accommodations.
In contrast, camping in the midst of the flowering guayacanes and under hundreds of constellations of stars at night, has no price, making it the most viable option. The town of Mangahurco is completely surrounded by guayacan forest and is very safe, so do not worry about not finding a suitable place to sleep. Make sure to use a waterproof tent, since the guayacanes bloom in the rainy season.
What clothes and accessories to bring:
The climate of Mangahurco is dry heat, with frequent rains during the afternoon and evening during the blooming season. For this trip, you need to bring:
- Comfortable clothes such as t-shirts, blouses, shorts, etc. to be able to make long walks and be fresh.
- Good walking shoes. The place is covered with dry earth and rocks, so wearing comfortable shoes would be the best for an enjoyable time.
- Rain poncho or umbrella
- Baseball Cap
- Sun Blocker
- Handkerchief to cover your face. If you travel by van to the Inca baths, you have to protect your face with a handkerchief due to the amount of dust during the journey.
- Water boiler to make sure you can stay hydrated safely.
- Portable solar charger
- Insect repellent
In Mangahurco there is no cell signal coverage. As a Natural World Heritage Site, it is strictly forbidden to cut trees, even if it is to install an antenna. The only means of internet connection is an open WiFi signal located in the central square, or use the infocenter machines that have internet until 5PM. That means this trip is almost a total disconnect with the world and a time to spend with yourself and nature.
Visit the Baños del Inca
Apart from the spontaneous occurrence of the Guayacanes, just 30 minutes by car from Mangahurco, there is the Baños del Inca. More than seven small natural lagoons connected each by a small waterfall, formed thanks to the erosion of the soil thousands of years ago. It is an ideal place to cool off and enjoy a relaxing bath in the heat of the season. Adventure seekers can jump from the peak of a 10 meter rock into one of the lakes.
Explore the guayacan forests by bicycle or horse
What is more beautiful than a walk in the middle of hundreds of guayacanes blooming with a bright yellow glow? Horseback riding or cycling through dozens of trails in Mangahurco is the best option for a unique experience. Bicycles can be rented in the center of the small town for $3 an hour, while horseback riding costs $10 an hour.
Eat “Chivo al Hueco”
If you did not eat “Chivo al Hueco” in Mangahurco, you have not had a complete experience in Mangahurco. This delicious traditional dish of the region refers to the peculiar way of being prepared. The goat meat is seasoned with spices inside a pot and then this pot is buried in a hole along with firewood. This process gives an exquisite flavor to goat meat, which together with the salad, form the famous Chivo al Hueco native of the local cuisine. It is served accompanied by a tasty chicha morada, your stomach will thank you for trying this delicious Ecuadorian dish.