Meet the residents of Ecuador's other wildlife paradise
This coastal national park, often overlooked in favour of the Galapagos Islands, actually offers a fantastic mix of hiking, wildlife spotting, activities and relaxation - making it a hugely attractive destination in its own right. A third of the park is made up of ocean, including tiny islands dotted sporadically throughout. Of these, the most famous is Isla de la Plata, which provides a home to a wonderful collection of birds and has earned it a reputation as something of a mini-Galapagos.
In total, there are over 270 species of birds in Machalilla, including kingfishers, waved albatrosses, pelicans, boobies and frigate birds. On land, armadillos, howler monkeys, colourful frogs, snakes and deers are amongst the residents, whilst the seas are brought to life by humpback whales, ocra, turtles, rays and dolphins.
The park is charactarised by tropical forests, unspoilt beaches and scrub desert, with well marked trails throughout. The park also boasts an ancient community and even coral reefs.