Photographs: Jorge Vinueza
Mangrove ecosystems are among the most characteristic of the Gulf of Guayaquil. As the great Guayas River makes its way into the ocean, its waters create a hand of vein-like rivers. Along the entire length of the Guayaquil Delta — the largest in the South American Pacific — motorized boat or paddle rides offer fascinating tours for the entire family. One meanders along the rivers, weaving between these alleys of water, bordering the mangrove islands, amid a unique ecosystem of birds, crustaceans and aquatic life. The Guayaquil region is one of the richest in diversity of crustaceans on the continent, but it is the birds that steal the show: great white egrets, crabeater herons, sometimes spatulas or ibis. Depending on the mangroves you decide to explore near Guayaquil, different outstanding species await.
A town located only 500m before the Coast highway toll; look for herons, egrets, spoonbills and the attractive White Ibis prying in the mud and taste the delicious sweet plantain and cheese treats at the town entrance.
Departing from Guayaquil (east), visit the mangroves of the southern Gulf, where the Horned Screamer, a bizarre bird with a horn on its head, dwells. Look for it at the eastern section of the reserve.
Reach this port town nestled in mangroves heading north at the Data highway fork, passing the pretty town of El Morro to the dock, where mangrove visits promise the chance of finding dolphins!
Crossing the Guayas River by the pedestrian bridge or from the pier at the Malecón, mangroves tours are combined with community visits, an area where alligators can still be found.