The Pacoche Coastal Marine Wildlife Refuge presents one of the most breathtaking landscapes in all of Ecuador, and is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. Located in the province of Manabí, on the southwest coast of the country, the Pacoche forest is an incredible place to be immersed in the beauty of nature and explore the many species of wildlife that call it home.
Travelers will discover a diverse and exuberant scenery, with dense and lush vegetation, winding rivers, and cloud-covered mountain peaks. With thousands of hectares of primary and secondary tropical rainforests, Pacoche is home to an array of different animals and plants. From colorful butterflies to loud birds, and from giant trees to small mammals, the Pacoche forest is full of life.
The Reserve is a protected area since 2008, intended for the preservation of 8,586 hectareas of coastal marine environments and 5,044 hectares of terrestrial ecosystems including tropical rainforests, grasslands, wetlands and mangroves along with the semi-desertic area and the dry forest.
The lower area close to the sea is the semi-desertic area, with extensive cactus forests and shrubs that are interrupted by gigantic ceibos. The picturesque panorama is accompanied by the calm view of the coastal shoreline and neighboring beaches, that can be appreciated in every corner, through cliffs and vantage points such as the San Lorenzo's Reserve Lighthouse.
The upper parts are covered by garúa forests instead. The characteristic flora of the area is rich in a variety of trees such as Cane Guadua, used for centuries in construction for its strength; Toquilla, used to weave the famous Toquilla Straw hats; and the Cady, its tagua seeds are used to make beautiful handcarfts. Through the hike you can also find laurel, higueron, and coffe among others.
Next to the lighthouse is one of the largest nesting spots for marine turtles in Ecuador, and if we are lucky enough, we will get to see baby turtles on their way to the ocean. Its vast marine wildlife includes a variety of species such as colorful fish, giant stingrays, whale sharks, and turtles.
From June until October, the reserve receives the special visit of the Humpback whales coming from the south to mate and reproduce.
On the other hand, the Pacoche Rainforest fascinating microclimate is home to countless species of animals: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and more.
A favorite among visitors of the reserve is the howler monkey, who can be seen swinging at the top of the trees, feeding and sleeping, careless of our curious eyes. Pacoche is also home to the Nodriza Machalilla frog, one of the tiniest in the world, no larger than a thumbnail.
This tropical paradise also hosts more than 250 species of birds, 55 of which are endemic to the area. Due to this great wealth, these forests have also become a frequent destination for birdwatching in Ecuador.
The Pacoche Coastal Marine Wildlife Refuge is a unique and marvelous protected reserve that portrays the richess and diversity of the coastal region. It is a privilege to experience a walk through its vast ecosystem and to witness a respectful coexistence between mankind and nature, ensuring the preservation of such magical place for future generations.