Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Have you ever thought of traveling the Oriente Road by river? In theory you could ride the Zamora River all the way from Yantzaza south to Zamora then continue
westward to Loja. I wonder if it is possible? My 2nd time traveling the Oriente Road, this time from south to north (Zamora to Puyo) but stopping at a few places
in between (Yantzaza, Gualaquiza, Limon and Macas). Yantzaza is a jungle town that sits beside the Zamora River. A place to explore nature, see waterfalls in
the area and go to the river beach. Yantzaza is also known for its interesting and typical cuisine from the Mestiza, Shuar and Saraguro cultures. Yantzaza is 41kms
north of Zamora, a bus takes around 90mins but I decided to come here by taxi (30mins for less than $15USD).
Hotels / Sights in Town
Finding a hotel in Yantzaza is not difficult
as there are many along the main road and around the central park. The main visual attractions in town are of course the central park and church but now there
is also a new malecon (2014-2019) in Yantzaza - a public area with a water feature (river waterfall) and huge murals. The Mirador Park known as Parque Mirador
has fantastic views of the great Zamora River from above and also a special cultural bronze sculpture of an indigenous man in a river canoe. He is Martin Ayuy,
an indigenous leader who helped the socialization of the Spanish settlers with the indigenous people.
River, Bridge & Beach
The biggest attraction in Yantzaza itself is
definitely the Zamora River. It's beautiful down by the river with all the green hills, large trees and palms around. Take a walk along the road to the bridge
and cross to the other side where Rica Beach (Playa Rica) greets you. It's a tiny beach but it does have sand and a nice setting. This part of the Zamora River
is very calm, still and peaceful.
Typical Local Cuisine
Some of the cuisine and culinary delights typical in Yantzaza are quite different from the culinary delights in other parts
of Ecuador. For example I know Cuy (barbecued guinea pigs). I've seen Cuy in various places such as Banos
. I didn't see Cuy in
Yantzaza though. What they do eat here is a little different, for example, of the Mestiza culture - fried maggots (Tilapia frita), frogs legs (Ancas de rana),
chicken soup (caldo de gallina). Of the Kichwa Saraguro culture - pinchi micuna (Community meal), tortillas de maiz (Corn tortillas), miel con quesillo (Honey
with cheese), chicha de jora (Corn beer). Of the Shuar culture - ayampacos (fish, corn and vegetables), chica de chonta (fruit from the peach palm), chontacuros
(barbecued maggots on a skewer).
Tourist Circuits With Many Waterfalls
The area around Yantzaza has many natural sights and things to do and see. The Guayacanes Circuit is around 35 minutes in a
car from central Yantzaza. Here there are various attractions including the Moon Waterfall (Cascada la Luna) 20 meters, natural pools, Guayacanes Caves (Cueva
Guayacanes) 20 meters under the ground, Corazonada Waterfall (Cascada la Corazonada) 20 meters and Tobogan Waterfall (Cascada El Tobogan) 15 meters. The El Oso
Route has a cave and waterfall to see! El Oso Cave (Cueva El Oso) is around 50 meters deep and is a place you can observe reptiles and other animals of the forest
while El Oso Waterfall has a drop of 35 meters. The Cave Circuit has a couple of caves to see! El Masharo Cave is 40mins from Yantzaza and is 65 meters deep. The
other cave El Laberinto is nearby. The La Misteriosa Route has 3 waterfalls to see! La Misteriosa o Grunona Waterfall has warm waters with a drop of 30 meters and
is where the Shuar people performed religious ceremonies and is a good place to take a refreshing swim. Bano de Hombre Shuar Waterfall is 21kms from Yantzaza
where you must walk along a bush track for 1hr to reach the waterfall. The 3rd fall, Bano El Escondite Waterfall is located between the 2 previously mentioned
waterfalls. The Duende Circuit has 6 waterfalls (La Pileta, El Reflejo, La Visera, El Arcoiris, Las Escalinatas and El Bloque) and a natural jacuzzi to enjoy,
it's located 40mins from Yantzaza! The Don Viche Circuit has another 4 waterfalls. They are La Maravilla Waterfall with a drop of 30 meters, El Descanso Waterfall
has a 20 meter drop and warm waters for swimming, Feliz Aventura Waterfall has a drop of 20 meters but has 2 levels, Las Bromelias Waterfall has a 5 meter drop
and is a place with an abundance of flora and fauna.
To Gualaquiza & Limon
From Yantzaza I continued traveling up the Oriente Road. Firstly to Gualaquiza (1hr 40mins) for
just a few hours where I saw some of the activity surrounding the Sunday market in the center of town and then I continued north to Limon
after hitching a ride in a truck (1hr 45mins).