Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Located in the very south of Ecuadors Oriente is Zamora, a beautiful and peaceful town known for its gold-mining, bird-watching, waterfalls and nature walks
in Podocarpus National Park. There is a ton of accommodation in Zamora covering all budgets. I've stayed 5mins from the center at a place overlooking the river
- double-room $13USD for 2 and also in the very center. Zamora reminds me of Banos in the way it looks and feels around town, they are both lovely places.
Podocarpus National Park
The entrance to Podocarpus
National Park takes 10mins from the center of town by taxi, $4USD each way. The fee to enter the park seems to vary from everywhere I have read in books or
on the internet, some say $10USD, others $5USD. As at August 2011 when I was here, the price on the sign says $2USD although it was Sunday when I visited
and nobody was in the ticket office, so it was free. In 2018 when I was here again it was free too!
I was disappointed not to see many birds at the park, they were hiding! I did however see a few butterflies, spiders, caterpillars with spikes
and several other interesting insects plus amazing plants and flora with exotic shapes, smells and colors. It is possible to see some amazing birds here such as the Gallo de la Pena, known as Cock
of the Rock, and also a bird called the Paraguas Amazonico - Amazonian Umbrellabird. I wish I had seen them and I wish you good luck spotting them.
Forest & River
a swimming area by the river and safe lookout points. The forest floor is the most interesting place of all with all kinds of things growing including insect
eating plants, fungi, ferns and some flowers that looked like atoms connecting. Trails of large ants carrying pieces of leaves cross the walking paths.
Waterfalls, Trails & Mirador
The first waterfall I saw was Cascada La Chismosa, a sign pointed to a much larger waterfall Cascada La Poderosa 510m walk away. When I got to the waterfall
there were 2 families swimming and enjoying the water, this is a nice place to sit down and relax for a while and have a sandwich and drink. Back on the path
a sign pointed to the Mirador lookout 800m away and said that it was 85mins walk away. I didn't take up the signs offer on this occasion though. I enjoyed 5hrs
at the park and made my way back to the entrance where I had arranged for the same taxi to pick me up at a certain time, which he did. My second time at
Podocarpus National Park I took the Urraquita Verde Trail which is 615 meters (15mins) which takes you to the El Campesino Bridge (an old wooden swing bridge)
across the river. Beside where the Urraquita Verde Trail begins is an extremely serious trail called Higuerones which is a whopping 13kms and takes 8hrs,
sorry I can't say I've done that one.
I've made my own city tours in Zamora by foot, it's not a huge place and there are some good things to see. Zamora has a couple
of churches - Catedral Vicariato de Zamora and Iglesia Cristo Redentor. There is a museum - Museo Monsenor Jorge Mosquera and parks and monuments - Parque
Central, Malecon del Zamora, Parque Infantil, Plaza San Francisco, Monument Naya o la Chapetona, Monument Etnia Shuar and Centro Recreacional Bombuscaro. The
central park and cathedral are nice and there are gardens and a fountain with a parrot at the top. From all over town you can see the huge clock on the hillside made
from steel and grass, it's quite a sight. Zamora also has quite a lot of good street art if you can find it.
I noticed a sign saying that there is an
animal refuge in Zamora called Izanka Refugio Ecologico. I believe Izanka Refugio Ecologico has over 100 animals of different species, reptiles and mammals
including a Tapir plus parrots, parakeets, weasels, quail, turtles, alligators, iguanas, cuchuchos, spider monkeys, boa constrictor, capybara, peccary pig,
iguanas and gray breasted eagle. Also at Izanka there is a museum of archeology, fruit trees and a crafts shop of indigenous arts by the Shuar people.
The River Park
The river park and area is beautiful with trees and gardens and has thatched huts for sun shelter and picnics. The views of the river are fantastic
and there are lookout towers to get even bigger views with mountains and hills in the distance. Down beside the river is the best place to be while in the
town of Zamora!
Bus 80mins to Loja Loja
is 63kms and only 1hr 20mins away, the bus ticket costs $2.40USD. Between Zamora and Loja
are many waterfalls on the left side of the bus. From Zamora it's 270kms to Cuenca
311kms to Machala
Bus to Yantzaza
North from Zamora up the Oriente Road is the jungle and river town of Yantzaza
. It takes 90mins by bus or you can take a taxi like I did for less then $15USD and it takes only 30mins.