Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve

Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve

This natural area, located in the northwest of the country, is a place of exotic landscapes, waterfalls and natural lagoons formed in an environment of undisturbed forests. But behind the scenery lies the most interesting element of the Mache-Chindul Reserve, the surprising variety of plants and animals that the visitor can find in this enchanted part of Ecuador.

The Mache-Chindul Reserve protects some of the last remaining tropical dry and rain forests of the Ecuadorian coast, and is considered to be an international biodiversity hotspot due to the enormous variety of plants and wildlife, including high numbers of species found nowhere else. In certain parts of the forest, each hectare may contain up to 1,420 individual plants, with trees reaching up to 80 to 100 feet (25-30m) in height. In total some 1,434 plants have been identified here.

Of the 136 species of mammals that inhabit the Reserve, 38 are endangered, and the protection of this region with its unique environments is vital for their conservation. An astounding 491 species of birds have also been registered, including the white mustached hermit hummingbird, the brown woodpecker and the Chocó toucan.

On the Eastern limit of the Reserve is the The Bilsa Biological Reserve, a privately owned 3,000 hectares forest managed by the Jatun Sacha Foundation. The forest is a biological corridor connected to the animals and plants of Mache-Chindul. The Bilsa Reserve has accommodation for visitors, students and scientists, and here guests can get a real idea of the species in the Reserve.

Visitors to Mache-Chindul will also get a chance to see the area’s many natural pools and waterfalls, such as the 60-meter high Mono Waterfall to the far East of the Reserve and Cube Lagoon, one of the area’s major attractions, declared a wetland of global importance in 2001. At the Cube lagoon there is accommodation for students and visitors.

For more relaxation, Atacames, Muisne, Súa and Same located on the coast near to the Reserve offer beautiful beaches, accommodation and restaurants, as well as lively Afro-Ecuadorian culture.


Cube Lagoon.
Mono Falls.


The Reserve is hot and humid year-round. The temperature varies from 18–36 °C, and
the wettest months are from January to June. Yearly rainfall varies widely within the limits of the reserve: 800 to 3.000 mm

What to bring:
Insect repellent (minimum 30% DEET).
Sun screen.
Light, protective clothing (long sleeved shirt and long trousers).
Rain poncho or light, waterproof jacket during the rainy season.
Rubber boots.
Plenty of drinking water.
Anti-malaria tablets may be necessary, seek medical advice before visiting this region.

How to get here:

The Reserve is located in the South of Esmeraldas Province and the North of the Province of Manabí. The major access route on the eastern side of the Reserve is the road between the cities of Santo Domingo de los Sachilas and Esmeraldas, capital of the Province of the same name. Close to Quinindé in Cantón Quinindé, visitors will find the entrance to the village of Herrera, from where the road continues on to the settlement of La Y de la Laguna. From here continue to Estero de Plátano and then to the Taguales River, at the eastern limit of the Reserve, from where the road leads straight to the Cube Lagoon.

Access is also possible from Esmeraldas, Atacames, Muisne, and Pedernales. The Pedernales – Chamanga road offers access to the Reserve via the communities of Eloy Alfaro, Chindul, Cheve and Beche.

The Reserve is most easily reached during the dry season from July to December, while at other time of the year access can be a problem due to high rainfall levels. Most of the routes are difficult and before travelling to the reserve it is best to seek advice from the Ministry of the Environment in Esmeraldas.

Local traditions and folklore:

The Reserve is home to both indigenous Chachis and Afro-Ecuadorian communities. The latter came to Esmeraldas in the 16th century when the slave ship carrying their ancestors from West Africa was shipwrecked off the coast.
The area by numbers:

• 1,434: The number of plant species identified in the Reserve.
• 111: The number of endemic plant species, the majority of which are endangered.
• 38: The number of species of mammals in the Reserve threatened with extinction.
• 18-36: The temperature range in °C

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