Monday, April 15, 2013

Puerto Lopez, Playa los Frailes, and Isla de la Plata

 This past weekend I took a trip to Puerto Lopez which is on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador a few hours from Guayaquil. Puerto Lopez is a small fishing town on the border of Machalilla National Park which contains beautiful beaches, pre-Colombian archeological sites, and Isla de la Plata also known as Poor Man's Galapagos. Check out the pictures!
Puerto Lopez is a small fishing town and in the mornings all the boats come to shore to show their catches- sharks, squids, shrimp, and many other kinds of seafood. All the boats are left on the sand and fish are gutted right there on the sand. 
This is Ceviche de camaron which is a very famous and typical dish on the Ecuadorian coast. It contains shrimp (or other seafood), onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, a bit of orange juice, and lime juice. It's actually VERY delicious. 
After arriving in Puerto Lopez at 6:30 am, we took a moto-taxi to Playa los Frailes inside of Machalilla park. We arrived around 8 am and found this pristine, white sand beach with little crabs running everywhere. No one arrived for two hours!

It was very hot so we took shelter under this toxic tree... I'm not kidding- its leaves irritate the skin and lead to rashes. But we were pretty desperate for shade. We also hiked up one of the cliffs and on the other side was a black sand beach with many huge rock formations. 

This is Isla de la Plata, or Poor Man's Galapagos. It is home to Blue footed boobies, sealions, hermit crabs, sea turtles, and many other birds and marine life. After an hour and a half on a speed boat with a group of 10 Dutch flight attendants, we arrived and hiked across the island to see the cliffs with the most wildlife. 

This is a Blue footed boobie- it has no fear of people since no one has ever mistreated them here. You are required to hike in a group with a guide. Isla de la Plata means Silver Island- this name comes from the bird shit on the cliffs that shine when the sun hits it just right. 

On our way out, we saw two huge sea turtles!! On the island there are many nesting areas where sea turtle eggs will hatch in a few months. 
Although the water wasn't clear because of the currents, we went snorkeling and were able to see coral reefs and many types of tropical fish. 

Everyone hangs out on the beach for sunset. 

Another typical plate- arroz con conchas (rice with shells). 

These are the restaurants/bars/clubs all along the beach. They open early in the morning for breakfast and stay open late into the night. 

This was a very relaxed, great trip. I would recommend Puerto Lopez to anyone coming to Ecuador. The town itself is a cute beach town similar to Montanita and Canoa but the surrounding areas are what make it unique. The islands and beaches protected by the national park show the real beauty of nature that Ecuador can offer. 

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