1. Geology

  2. Hydrology

  3. State of Conservation

  4. Things to do

  5. Vegetation

  6. Mammals

  7. birds

  8. Other critters

  9. Getting there

  10. Best tours

Along the Pacific coasts of the Americas, mangrove forests are quite rare, and considered as their total area, these are extremely rare coastal ecosystems. There are some small mangroves along the Mexican and Guatemalan Pacific, but the first well-developed mangroves are found from El Salvador to Costa Rica. From Panama to northern Colombia, mangroves are present, but only from the southern half of Colombia to northern Ecuador, mangroves have developed to their full potential with extensive networks of streams and tidal canals. However, in Colombia, the mangroves along the Pacific Ocean lie on the Choco coast, which is still part of the FARC's last bastions. Thus, in fact, of all the mangroves in the South American Pacific, only the mangroves in Ecuador are open to the public.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Location of the reserve in detailed map.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Detailed map of the reserve.


The Churute Manglares Ecological Reserve owes its name to a small chain of coastal mountains, the Cordillera de Churute. Thus the reserve consists of an extensive mangrove and a coastal mountain ranges, varying in elevation from 0 - 700 masl.

The main hills are Mate, Cimalon, Perequete Chico, Perequete Grande, Pancho Diablo, Mas Vale and Pechuga de Niño. In the hills its is often very foggy, a condition known as garua.

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The annual average temperature is 28 oC and the average annual rainfall, mostly during the rainy season (January to April), is 960 mm in the hills, much less at sea-level.

Churute mangroves are part of the estuary of the Gulf of Guayaquil and the lower basin of the Guayas River. Here, the salty ocean waters and fresh water of the rivers Taura, Churute, Canar and Naranjal are mixed, forming an extensive complex of canals and islands. To the west of the Reserve, the Taura River (which is the merger of the Boliche and Culebra Rivers) is the main source of fresh water for mangroves, creating brackish water with salinities that fluctuate with the discharge of fresh water from rivers.

Apart from variable salinity, the estuaries are laden with sediments, partly because they bring the rivers as suspended sediments and partly because of the flocculation of dissolved salts in fresh water.

The greater part of the Reserve is mangrove and estuary; Another part,  constitutes the El Canclon Lake wetland, a fresh-water ecosystem that is made up by a series of smaller lakes.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Landscape of the reserve from the water.

Contrary to popular belief, mangroves do not have a high biodiversity. On the contrary, its diversity is relatively low compared to other coastal ecosystems and especially compared to tropical terrestrial ecosystems. This is due to the high dynamics of this ecosystem. Only few species can live under those conditions of continuous change of salinity, currents of tides, muddy water loaded with sediments, etc. However, what they lack in diversity, is compensates in numbers of the species present, which can be very impressive.

Floods during high tides make mangrove ecosystems and estuaries among the most productive natural ecosystems in the world. Ecologically, mangroves are considered the nurseries of the oceans!

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Conservation status Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve

Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve was created on July 26, 1979,  by interministerial agreement # a-322, published in the Official Register of November 20, 1979 r. or. # 69. The total area is ​​55,212 ha.

The reserve protects three very different ecosystems: Lake El Canclon, the Churute Mountain Range and mangroves. These three zones present the following geological features: Remains of forests in the hills (occupying 11% of the area) rising from 10 - 600 masl; Estuarine lowlands and mangroves (87% of the reserve) and flat alluvial plains (2% of the area) located in the lower basin of the Guayas River.

It should worth mentioned that mangrove ecosystems are among the most threatened in the world due to their worldwide scarcity and the use by coastal communities, often changing them to shrimp farms and cutting the trees.

Currently the boundaries of the Reserve include: to the Northern the lower end of the northern flank of Cerro Cimalon (40 meters above sea level), Estero Churute and Estero de La Zanja; To the west the hills Mas Vale and Pancho Diablo, the Isla de los Ingleses and Estero Churutillo; To the East the Cerro
Pecho de Niño, Perequete Grande, Perequete Chico, Cimalon, Mirador and Mate; To the south the rivers Canar and Ruidoso, that join with the River Churute, flows through the Canclon Lake.

Some 1000 local inhabitants use Canclon Lake for fishing and other purposes.



MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Fishermen hauling in their nets.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Fisherman casting net in Mangrove estuary, Ecuador

Fishermen hauling in their nets.

Fisherman casting his net.

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Things to do

The Isla de Los Ingleses is an important nesting site for birds, between December and May.

The Reserve has four guided trails hosted by official guides of the administration of the reserve.

Departing from a modern jetty, the mangrove can only be visited by motorboats hired from the the local community that has the privilege of transportion, accompanied by official guides of the administration of the reserve.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:New entrance of the Reserve with visitor center.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Raised path through the Mangrove.

The new visitor center.

Raised trail through the mangrove at the main entrance to the mangroves.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Tourists on our National Parks Tour.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:The boat landing in the reserve serves both fishermen and tourist boats.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Local crab fishermen bringing in their harvest.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Crab fishermen showing their day's catch.


El Canclon Lake: Located to the northeast of the Reserve, you can reach the lake by following the the trail surrounding Mount El Mate, after an hour's a hike. It is a rainfall lake of about 800 ha. It is a charming open lake between several low hills.

Lots of water birds can be seen, particularly during migration bird seasons. In
November and December turtles can be found burying their eggs.

El Mate Trail: Starts next to the Visitor Center. The almost 5-kilometer trail crosses tropical dry and humid tropical forest ecosystems, with typical species of flora and fauna of each one formation.

Cerro Pancho Diablo: Its main access is a secondary road off the highway. Along this trail you can find a sample of a tropical humid forest grove, with typical species for that forest, like monkeys, squirrels, agoutis and a variety of forest birds. During the rainy season, on the southeast slope of the hill forms a small waterfall, which can be reached in an two hours hike.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:trail through the Pacific forest.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Tour guide with visitors on one of our National Parks Tours.

El Mirador Trail: It is connected to the Pancho Diablo trail and is an easy ascent  (70 - 80 masl), where you can see a panorama of almost the entire reserve.

Cerro Mas Vale trail: The hike up to the top of the hill allows you to appreciate the flora and fauna of the Reserve. One of the biggest attractions of this route is the possibility to watch the Howler Monkeys and, on the north slope of the hill, a 30 m high waterfall during the rainy season.

Along the Duran - Boliche Highway, at Km. 21, 64 grave hills can be found, the largest being 120 m long and 12 m high from the Valdivia, Chorrera, Guangala, Jambeli and Guayaquil cultures, some of the oldest in the country, whose archaeological remains correspond to the period between the years 2,400 and 1,800 BC

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The floristic composition, varies with the ecological conditions in the reserve. The the lower hills of Churute are covered with secondary forests; while in the upper hills partially original forests - though heavily intervened - may still occur. Species diversity of the latter is lower than in the previous formation. Above 300 m forests prevail.


Some 450 species of trees and plants are known to the area, including five species of mangrove and 25 species of timber trees, belonging to the families Bignoniaceae, Caesalpinaceae, Fabaceae, Mimosaceae, Lauraceae, Rhizophoraceae and Sapotaceae. Among the endemic species of the dry forest, we mention: Eriotheca ruizzi, Macranthisiphon longifolium and Picramniatum besina, the latter known only from Cerro Mas Vale, between 200 - 400 m.


Vegetation formations

8 types of vegetation formations are present in the reserve:

Mangroves: Within the mangroves are the following structural formations: Tall mangrove, with trees of more than 15 m and straight trunks, homogeneous crown density and open upper canopy; Mid-sized mangrove, with trees varying between 5-15 m, with homogenous canopies closed canopies; Shrub mangrove, with canopies less than 5 m. Main species are: red mangrove, mangle pava, mangle Button Mangrove and Black Mangrove. Floristically these three formations do not vary all that much. Mangroves in the Gulf of Guayaquil have  less rainfall compared to the northern mangroves, but being flooded ecosystems, this does not necessarily translate in distinct floristic and / or faunal compositions.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Red Mangrove forest, Pacific Ocean, EcuadorMANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Stilt roots of Mangrove forest on the coast of Ecuador

Red Mangrove trees dominate the mangroves.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Conocarpus erecta Mangrove with air roots, Pacific Coast, Ecuador

Air  roots of Button Mangrove trees, Conocarpus erecta.


The lowland deciduous shrubland (100-300 masl): Remnants of shrubs up to 6 m high from left from original deciduous forest, dominated by thorny plants and low species diversity. The predominant species are Mimosa pigra and Cordia lutea. The common trees, Inga sp., Carob, Inga sp., Prosopis juliflora, P. pallida, Bursera graveolens and Trema micrantha, which are occasionally covered by epiphytes.

Lowland herbal marshes: Dense herbaceous (non-graminiform) plants in continuous contact with water of thelake may  reach up to 2 m in height.

In flooded areas the most important floating species are Coralolian Azolla, Water Hyacinth, Thalia genicula and Hydrocotyle ranunculoides.

Lowland semi-deciduous forest (100 - 300 masl): Patches of forest with native trees such as Tabebuia chrysantha, Triplaris cumingiana, guachapele A. guachapele, Inga sp., Clarisia racemosa, Poulsenia armata, Spondias purpurea as well as pioneers and introduced species.

Lowland deciduous forest (50 - 200 masl): Located in the foot hills of Cerros Mas Vale, Cimalon, Perequete Mate and Pancho Diablo. The rest of the vegetation iconsists of secondary forest in different stages of transition, caused by human intervention and deforestation. The dominant species are, Cochlospermum vitifolium, Triplaris guayaquilensis, T. cumingiana, Guazuma ulmifolia, Cordia alliodora and Muntingia calabura. In certain places the area is invaded by grasses, cyperaceas.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:The Golden Trumpet tree, Tabebuia Chrysanta, covers the lowland hills in a golden robe.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Golden Trumpet tree, Tabebuia Chrysanta, flowers.

The Golden Trumpet tree, Tabebuia Chrysanta, covers the lowland hills in a golden robe.

Premontane semi-deciduous forest (100-300 masl): occurs between the moist (foggy) forests of the mountains and the dry lowland deciduous forests. Develops on inaccessible steep stony soils, which have been less disturbed. Trees are scattered and the undergrowth very dense, indicating a high degree of deforestation. The canopy may reach up to 15 m. soils are semi-dry soils and species include: Terminalia oblonga,  Zanthoxilon sp., Cissampelos pererira, Ceibo (another species from those found to the north, Bombax millei), Cynometra sp.,

Golden Trumpet Tree, Tabebuia chrysantha, etc.


Premontane Evergreen Forest (300 - 450 masl): Located on steep slopes with trees over 25 m high. Soils are humid with species like Carica erythrocarpa, Acalypha sp., Alchornea sp., Croton sp., Hyeronima, Phytelephas aequatorialis and ferns of the families Aspleniaceae, Cyatheaceae, Adianthaceae, Thelipteridaceae Polipodiaceae, etc.


Premontane semi-deciduous forest (450-700 masl): It is occurs near the top of the Cimalon, Pancho Diablo and Mas Vale mountains. Trees are higher than 20 m, covered by mosses and bromeliad epiphytes. Soils are moist because of the influence of fog known as garua, often present during day time. Possibly due to human intervention in the area, this formation has the same species as the previous lower formation, like the Royal or Chivila Palm, Attalea colenda, and epiphytes like, Guzmania wittamacki and Espacia psitticina.

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Some 45 species of mammals have been reported, of which:
The Coastal Howler Monkeys, Alouatta palliata, often seen along the western flank of Cerro Cimalon and in the northern sectors of the hills Mas Vale and Pancho Diablo. This species is the largest primate of the Pacific Coast. It is severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. There are also
White-fronted Capuchin Monkeys, Cebus albifrons, still present in both the hills and the mangroves.

It has also been recorded:
Crab-eating Raccoons, Procyon cancrivorus, Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth, Choloepus hoffmanni, Guayaquil Squirrel, Sciurus stramineus, and occasionally Bottlenose Dolphins can be seen in the canals of the estuary.

Some important bats are: Molossops aequatorianus, Amorphochilus schnablii, Lonchophylla hesperia, Eptesicus innoxius.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:White Colared Peccaris in the Jungle of the Pacific coast.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Central American Agoutis, Dasyprocta punctata, are also common along the coast in forested areas.

Collared Peccaris, Pecari tajacu, common in forested areas along the coast, but shy for hunting pressure.  

Central American Agoutis, Dasyprocta punctata, are also common along the coast in forested areas.

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Bird diversity  in mangroves is not as high as in tropical forests, but the species composition of the is totally different, and birdwatchers who like to have a representative list of tropical birds of South America or Ecuador, need to spend some time in a mangrove. A great advantage of mangroves is that many of the birds are relatively numerous and large. A trip to a mangrove can easily add some 50 species to a visitor for the first time in the tropics.

More than 300 species are known from the reserve, of which 27 are endemic to the coast. In the wetland part of the reserve occur migratory shore birds from both the North and the South, as well as resident species
like: Phalacrocorax olivaceus, Ardea cocoi, Egretta alba, Egretta caerulea, Nyctanassa violacea, Eudocimus albus, Pandion haliaetus, Aramus guarauna y Gallinula chloropus.



Snowy egret, Egretta thula.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Ara severa.


Conspicuous birds in the Churute mountain range are the Horned Screamer, Anhima cornuta, the Rufous-headed chachalaca, Ortalis erythroptera and the Red-masked Parakeet, Aratinga erythrogenys, Pale-browed Tinamou, Crypturellus transfasciatus.


Northern migratory birds are occur in greatest numbers in March - April and late October - November.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Great egret, Ardea alba, nesting in the reserve.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Roseate spoonbills, Platalea ajaja, are common in the mangroves.

Great egret, Ardea alba, nesting in the reserve.

Roseate spoonbills, Platalea ajaja, are common in the mangroves.

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Other Critters

The Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve is one of the few areas that protects dry forest, unique in the world, along the Ecuadorian coast. Although there have not been any herpetofauna studies in the reserve, the area is known to protect important threatened amphibians such as: Ceratophrys stolzmanni Trachycephalus jordani, Hyloscirtus alytolylax, Leptodactylus labrosus, Hyloxalus infraguttatus, Engystomops randi, E. pustulatus , Phrynohyas venulosa, Smilisca phaeota. In addition, a new species has discovered: Physalaemus guayaco sp. nov. In the lowlands (32 - 92 masl) of Cerro Mas Vale.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:The green Iguana, Iguana iguana, is very common in the mangroves of the reserve. MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Hardly seen in the day time, the American Crocodile, Crocodylus americanus, is present in the mangroves.

The green Iguana, Iguana iguana, is very common in the mangroves of the reserve.

Hardly seen in the day time, the American Crocodile, Crocodylus americanus, is present in the mangroves.


The most impressive species is the crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, but during the day, sightings  are infrequent. The most common lizzards are the Green Iguana, iguana iguana, the common lizzard, Anolis sp. and the Iridescent Iguana, Stenosercus iridescens. On trails through the forest you may see the Ameiva Lizard, Ameiva edracantha) and the Black-and-white Worm Lizard, Amphisbaena fuliginosa. The Common Snapping Turtle, Chelidra serpentina, lives in El Canclon Lake. Snakes are represented by the Pit Viper, Bothrops asper, the Yellow Rat Snake, Spilotes pullatus, and the Boa, Boa constrictor imperator.

The most common estuarine invertebrates are: red crab, Ucides occidentalis, oysters, Cassostrea columbiensis, and mussels, Mytella guayanensis. The local population collects the crabs for sale, mainly in Guayaquil.


MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Mangrove Root Crab, Goniopsis cruentata.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:Mangrove Tree Crab, Aratus pisonii.MANGLARES CHURUTE RESERVE MANGROVE TOURS:the very popular Red Crab, Ucides occidentalis,  harvested by local fishermen for consumption


Several species of crabs live in the mangrove, such as Mangrove Root Crab, Goniopsis cruentata, Mangrove Tree Crab, Aratus pisonii, and the very popular Red Crab, Ucides occidentalis, the latter harvested by local fishermen for consumption.

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Getting there

Main access to Churute Mangroves Ecological Reserve,

Guayaquil is by the highway Guayaquil - Machala: turn off at Km 49. From there you can get there by two roads: the Guayaquil - Boliche road or the Duran - Tambo road.

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Best tours

Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places Peru is so famous for. On top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site Lima,  World Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.

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