The dry forests of coastal Ecuador are havens for birds. Unfortunately, they are few and far between because of extreme pressure from development. However, one vibrant dry forest has been protected within the boundaries of Machililla National Park, not far from Puerto Lopez.

The Terrain

Peruvian Screech OwlThe easiest way to visit is via Agua Blanca, a small community of indigenous Ecuadorians. The entrance to the community lies just off the main highway and will cost each person $5 to enter. The entrance fee includes a visit to the museum and a guided hike on some of the local trails. But once you enter, feel free to ask to hike the trails without a guide. If you are an avid birdwatcher, this is probably better than hiking with other tourists who may not care to stop for every sighting. Alternatively, you can ask if a guide is available to help you spot birds… it makes it easier to see hidden species, like the Peruvian Screech Owl one guide pointed out to us on our first visit. We looked and looked for another owl on our second trip but to no avail. Fortunately, we saw so many other birds it was hard to feel disappointed.

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