MACHALA - MACARA
Hey folks, this route is so heavenly and exotic, and still so undiscovered, you've got to get on it before the tourism machine gets here.
If you're going to Peru from Ecuador, 99% of travelers will go through Huaquillas, but why follow the crowd? There are at least three other side doors, and all of them are way more cool.
Go a bit east and over the border through Macará, a rice growing capital of Ecuador and also famous for Seco de Chivo, which is a delectable stewed piece of goat in a gravy over rice.
But way before you get there, you can stop first in Balsas, which has a grotto of medicinal waters surrounded by cinnamon and oak trees. Heal thyself, baby!
Then a little farther east down the road is the amazing Buenaventura Reserve where you'll get a guaranteed welcome of thousands of hummingbirds (see my article on Zaruma), as well as find yourself in a rare few square kilometers that is the nexus of different avian migratory routes, creating a habitat for many endangered species.
Past Balsas is Chaguarpamba, a place steeped in the history of the ancient Paltas people, and where you can often sit in on local storytelling about the old traditions.
Before you go up into the uplands, stop and venture into your private petrified forest of Puyango (see my article on Puyango).
Now if you love views, the towns in the Uplands lining the border have the most heart-arresting scenery. I don't suggest you go there because you'll never want to leave! But seriously, take the hike up to Guachanama Ridge near Celica, or a very easy in-town stroll to the "Inca Balcony" (El Shiricualpo) right in back of the hospital in Catacocha. While in Catacocha, there's a couple of barrios you'll just love: San Antonio where they make hand-crafted candy, and Tacorango where you can find local and unique pottery.
- On this route:
- Balsas |
- Celica |
- Puyango |
- Catacocha |
- Alamor |
- Arenillas |
- Catacocha |
- Buenaventura |
- El Shircualpo |
- Chaguarpamba | Macará !