Ecuador is inch per inch (or centimeter per centimeter for the modern, metric crowd) one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. It has something like 1,600 bird species, thousands of plant species, and an undetermined, ridiculous number of insect species.
One of the reasons that this small equator-straddling nation has so many species is because several major habitats (that are all biodiverse on their own) meet in Ecuador. For example, in the western part of the country, the extremely wet rain forests of the Choco bioregion reach their southern terminus and are replaced by the dry forests of the Tumbesian bioregion. These dry forests are restricted to western Ecuador and northwestern Peru and have become threatened due to deforestation.
One of the most important parks for protecting this type of habitat in Ecuador is Machalilla National Park. The large protected area reaches the coast near Puerto Viejo and is located near the eco-resort known as Alandaluz. Despite its costly sounding name, this hotel offers lodging for a wide variety of budgets and even welcomes the tent-carrying, camping crowd. Buildings at the lodge were constructed with driftwood from their beach and wood from sustainable forestry operations. They work at being as self sustainable as possible and thus make use of solar power and composting toilets (pretty important in this low-rain region).
They also employ a number of local people, some of whom work as guides when bringing guests to the nearby national park or their own private reserve that protects a very rare type of forest. One of the best things about this lodge, though, is their organic restaurant. The majority of the ingredients come right from on site organic gardens and the results are gourmet, absolutely delicious creations that are available for low prices!
Although you can’t swim on their beach (because of dangerous currents and rip tides), it plays host to a gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean just about every evening.
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