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PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR

Puyango Petrified Forest, Ecuador

Dr. Robert E. Shoemaker, discovered Puyango Petrified Forest, in Ecuador: one of the greatest sites worldwide, comparable to Arizona's Petrified Forest.

 

Discovered between 1975 and 1976,  the reserve is just 2,658 hectares, but very well maintained with great trails. Its sediments belong to 4 geological formations: these deposits are rich in both fossilized trunks and leaves - which belonged to the typical Mesozoic flora - as well as fossils of invertebrates such as bivalves, ammonites, echinoderms, among others.

 

The oldest fossils are of marine fauna. When the ancient sea dried up, it became forested leaving behind fossils dating back to that period. The fossils date back from 500 million to 60 million years ago.

 

The most spectacular fossils of Puyango Petrified Forest belong to trees of the Araucarioxylon genus, dating back to some 100 million years ago and are among the largest collections of petrified wood worldwide. The longest and most spectacular specimen measures about 1 m thick and 15 m long. Fossils of leaves seem similar to present day ferns and palms.


PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Entrance of the reserve.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Greatest collection of petrified forest trees worldwide.

Entrance of the Puyango Petrified Forest, Ecuador reserve.

Just 3 petrified forest sites in the Americas.

 

How to get there

The reserve is located, on the banks of the Puyango River at 111 km from Machala and 280 km from the city of Loja.

 

Conservation status

The Petrified Forest of Puyango was legally declared  a protected forest by ministerial decree No. 002 on January 9, 1987, totalling ​​2658 ha of  which only about 100 ha are fully protected with a vegetation recovery program. The rest of the area is privately owned.

On August 15, 2002, in the context of decentralization, deconcentration and transfer of functions, powers, responsibilities, management and control was transferred to the Provincial Council of Loja.

 

The walk

The guided walk takes anywhere between half an hour and an hour. Some fossils are found on the banks of a stream with clean and clear water, where you will find enormous trunks that correspond to the Jurassic period which had its greatest development about 120 billion years ago.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The trail head.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A resting site along the trail with a view of the pedestrian bridge and a 1.5m thick trunk slice.

The trail head.

A resting site along the trail with a view of the pedestrian bridge and a 1.5m thick trunk slice.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A slice with the bark still in tact.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A 1.5m thick trunk slice.

A slice with the bark still in tact.

A 1.5m thick trunk slice.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Petrified leave of a fern-like plant.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A forest of a large collection of fallen trees.

Petrified leave of a fern-like plant.

A forest of a large collection of fallen trees.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The trunk of 15 m of one individual tree, measuring 1+m thick.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: Half buried in the ground, this is one of the world's finest specimens of a petrified tree.

The trunk of 15 m of one individual tree, measuring 1+m thick.

Half buried in the ground, this is one of the world's finest specimens of a petrified tree.

 

At the end of the trail, is of one of the largest and best preserved petrified trees in the entire reserve with an approximate original length of 80 meters by about 8 meters in diameter, about one third of which you will find on the ground.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: The current seasonal tropical forest is dominated by the largest tree of the forest, Cavanillesia Platanifolia, which can measure 1,5m in diameter.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR:Cavanillesia Platanifolia is an interesting tree who's ringed marking are indicative of its age.

The current seasonal tropical forest is dominated by the largest tree of the forest, Cavanillesia Platanifolia, which can measure 1,5m in diameter.

Cavanillesia Platanifolia is an interesting tree who's ringed marking are indicative of its age.

 

Climate

The forest is located between 360 and 500 meters above sea level and has an average temperature of 22.5 °C.

The vegetation is a typical tropical seasonally deciduous forest with very little rainfall during the dry season from May to December. Most of the yearly 900mm of rainfall falls between January to April. While officially recommended for visiting during the dry season, I don't agree at all. During the wet season the forest is beautifully green, and a bit of a drizzle should not spoil your joy. So, visiting year around is my recommendation.

 

Flora

Some enormeous petrinos trees, Cavanillesia Platanifolia, of which the tallest, the about 300 year old "Giant", stands 35 m tall and 2 m at the base. Other conspicuous trees are ceibos, potos, guapala, pechiche, hualtaco, puyangos, guayacanes, laureles, guasimos, caciques, cedros, palo santo, higuerón, limoncillo, almendro, etc. Small trees and shrubs include: amancay, bejucos, orquídeas, chaquiro, pastos, ortiga, matico and mortiño, many of which flower in the dry season with abundant flowers.

 

PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A splendid sample of an Cavanillesia Platanifolia tree.PUYANGO PETRIFIED FOREST, ECUADOR: A grove of several adult Cavanillesia Platanifolia trees.

A splendid sample of an Cavanillesia Platanifolia tree.

A grove of several adult Cavanillesia Platanifolia trees in the Puyango Petrified Forest, in Ecuador.

 

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Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature. https://www.facebook.com/DrDaanVreugdenhil, https://www.linkedin.com/in/drdaanvreugdenhil/. He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador in the 1970s and he initiated the Cuyabeno Lodge in Ecuador's Amazon in 1985, making him one of the world's eco tourism pioneers. A speaker of 8 languages and having traveled to 80+ countries, Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil has is one of the world's greatest connoisseurs of nature and national parks in the world. 

This website and its programs have been created by the renowned conservation biologist "Parks Man" Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil