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Zamora (Ecuador)

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Zamora is a city in southeastern Ecuador. it is the capital of Zamora Chinchipe province.

Understand[edit]

Known locally as the land of waterfalls and birds (La tierra de cascadas y aves), Zamora is the second most populous city in Zamora-Chinchipe after Yantzaza. It is located in the foothills of the Andes mountains at 970 m above sea level, on the convergence of the Zamora, Bombuscaro and Jamboé rivers. The vegetation around Zamora is jungle-like and is located very close the Podocarpus National park. Zamora has experienced a boom in growth in recent years, attributed to the discovery of gold in the surrounding region. Zamora was originally a colonial town founded by the Spanish but was attacked by the Indians and reclaimed by the indigenous Indian groups that include the Shuar and Saraguro Indians whom you'll see from time to time milling around the neighborhood in their distinguishable black shorts.

Get in[edit]

The closest major airport is Mariscal Sucre International Airport, located in Quito, 274 miles away. Once landed, visitors can take a bus to Zamora, or take a internal flight to Cuenca or Loja from Quito and then a bus to Zamora.

Get around[edit]

You can walk pretty much everywhere in the center of Zamora. If you want to take a taxi to the Podocarpus park you can find one at the bus terminal. If you want to go to Timbarra you can take an open bus (it has no windows but it does have a roof) which you can hail down on the bridge (via bombuscaro). bang the side of the bus to get off and pay :)

Do[edit][add listing]

Zamora is a small, peaceful town, a place to relax. If you know where to go it can be a very pleasant and interesting place to be.

Swim in the Bombuscaro River

If you find yourself in Zamora on a sunny day you should put on some swimming shorts and head to the Bombuscaro river. There are a number of places to access the river - the most popular is just over the bridge on Via Bombuscaro. If you walk along the road you will see a pleasantly green and wild looking park (there are some small paths that access the river) on your right. Walk further still and you arrive at an slightly tired looking public pool. just a bit further and there is another great spot to jump in the river.

Tzanka Refuico Locates on José Luis Tamayo y Pasaje S/N. Tzanka is a small but beautiful animal refuge. There are a number of different species of birds including Macaws there are also Turtles that roam free in the area along the walkways, squirrel monkeys, a small caiman and snakes. It is also a great place to sit and watch some of the local birds in the many variety of trees that are present in the refuge. You can see tanagers, casiques, oropendolas, hummingbirds and even woodpeckers on a good day. but you do need to be patient! The best places to sit are in the hammock next to the pool table or up on the walkway. the owners are friendly and speak a tiny bit of English. press the buzzer on the left of the entrance to be let in.

The Market

Antoher interesting part of Zamora is its (relatively small) main indoor market (located just south of the terminal terrestre). Here you will find a fair selection of fruit & Veg being sold (granadillas (4 for $1), Maracuyas and chirimoyas ($3 for 1) is just a short list of some of the fruit that you should try!). You will also find some stands dedicated to natural beverages, jugos naturales, i recommend to you to try the horchata con savila, a sort of herbal tea made of 5 different medicinal plants mixed with aloe. Definitely one of the healthiest breakfast you can serve ever. There is also a bigger and slightly more animated market located just off Av Alonso Mercadillo next to the Rio Zamora

Podocarpus National Park

Zamora is home to a large section of the Podocarpus National Park. This park possess one of the highest bio-diversity areas on earth, contributing to the amazing beauty of this place. Happily the park is easily accessible from Zamora, simply take a 10 minute taxi from the terminal terrestre (about $5). You will be dropped off at the entrance (it doesnt look very official), walk a further 30 minutes along dirt track to reach the visitors center. The center is manned by a number of knowledgeable and helpful rangers.From here you can do a number of walks to waterfalls (bring your Bikini!), rivers, some very strenuous walks up the mountain side and others on the flat along by the river. You can also organise to camp in the park or stay in one of the cabins they have there ($3 a night, the cabins are very simple). Be sure to bring all that you need with you (water / food / mosquito spray) as there is no shop in the park.

The area itself is cut up into two main areas, an upper pre-montane section which has sensational walking routes, the tropical cloud forest that is superb for birdwatching and the lower subtropical section, with remoter areas including virgin forest and endemic species of flora and fauna. Recently the government in Ecuador has said that all national parks in this area are free, so no charge to enter :) . On the way back from the Podocarpus, you can hope that there is a taxi at the entrance waiting for people to come out or if you want to be sure, ask one of the rangers at the visitors center to call you a taxi. They are very helpful and will ring one for you.


Walks

if you like walking you can try the Yamila trekking. Yamila is the name of one of the small hills that surrounds Zamora. This like light backpacking trek is located in the Yaguarzongo neighborhood. At the end of the trek you will be able to see one of the most complete views of Zamora and its surroundings.

Tour Companies / Guides

  • Yankuam Lodge www.lindoecuadortours.com [1] offer accomadation just ouside of Zumbi. They also offer a number of treks which vary in lenght to see the Nangaritza river, its waterfalls and the local communities there. They also offer tours to see the Oilbird caves in the area.
  • Imagine Ecuador Travel Agency www.imagineecuador.com [2] info@imagineecuador.com 593-032743472/0987286625 offers unique tours to the local indigenous communities,hiking in the forest, birdwatching, camping and volunteer work.
  • Ecuador Tierra Viva Travel Company [3] offers an 8 day tourthrough the provinces of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe, passing through two different geographical regions of Ecuador (Highland or Andes Region and Amazonian Basin Region), two different ecosystems (lower montane rain forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes and dry shrub forest) and two different native cultures (Saraguro and Shuar). Also, you'll engage in community tourism, ethnic tourism and nature tourism and in activities such as camping, hiking and nature interpretation.
  • Orquideario Paphinia, some 2 km away from town is a greenhouse which is actually developing a great collection of over 3000 native plants including orchids and aroids, as well as living samples of useful timber trees, medicinal plants, edible native plants and many other ornamental plants and shrubs.

Eat[edit][add listing]

What

If you walk around at lunch time in Zamora you are bound to find a number of places to eat a cheap "almuerzo" for $2.50. First you will be served a soup, then a main course: this is almost always rice, with a little salad, some yuka or beans and your choice of chicken (pollo), beef (carne) or fish (pescado). The meal will usually come with a drink of some kind too. There are some places to eat atillas de rana (frogs legs) in town. And although not next to the sea, there is one pescaderia that serves encebollados. A coveted Ecuadorian dish. In terms of foods from around the world Zamora is lacking, however it does have one or two good pizzarias and some chifas (chinese restaurants).

Like any of the twenty something provinces in Ecuador, Zamora has a distinctive and typical drink, its name is chicha, a homemade alcoholic beverage made of manioc or chonta, sort of a nut. Natives of this region, shuar or ashuar like to drink large quantities of this chicha. This traditional drink is offered to all newcomers specially in mingas, when people in the community gathers to work in group. Chicha of chonta or chicha of yuca both of them have a very characteristic flavor. they are completely tasteless. This is because natives don't use any sugar nor other substances to provoke fermentation and they don't use salt to condiment their traditional recipes either.

Where

  • Las Gemelitas, diego de vaca y francisco de oriellana. a decent portion for almuerzo, typical Ecuadorian cuisine almuerzos $2.50.  edit
  • Chonta Dorada, pio jaramilo alvarado. served Ecuadorian cuisine almuerzo, also served some of the more interesting Ecuadorian food, such as ancas de rana, deep fried bullfrog legs or tilapia, sort of a fish soup. almuerzos $2.50.  edit
  • Civivheria Rinconcito del encebollado, avenida heroes de paquisha y diego de vaca. according to the locals, this is the best seafood in town! They serve the coveted Encebolados. no table service, find a seat, then order at the bar (there is likley to be a queue, Ecuadorians don't respect the queue so you'll most likley have to employ elbow barging tactics) $4 for a meal.  edit
  • Casteloz Pizza, 24 de mayo y diego de vaca. tasty, filling pizza with lots of topping. Many different pizzas to choose from including vegetarian. Also does spaghetti and lasagne $13 for a medium pizza.  edit
  • Tio Bollo, avenida alonso del mercadillo. nice friendly restaurant next to the malecon (river side), serves parillas (barbequed or grilled meat). Only open during the evenings  edit
  • la choza, jorge mosquera y pio jaramilo alvarado. one of a number of places serving the typical Ecuadorian Almuerzo, tasty and friendly service. $2.60 almuerzo.  edit
  • el rincon Latino, (Garcia Moreno y pio jaramilo alvarado). nice friendly service, gets busy during lunch time $2.50 almuerzo.  edit
  • Buona pizzeria, (the fist left as you walk down via bombuscaro from the bridge). a take away pizzaria that also has a couple of tables outside to eat at, really good quality pizza, lots of different variety to choose from. Only does pizza, but does it very well!! $11-15 for a medium pizza.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The majority of Zamora's hotels are in the center of town, which is a stones throw from the bus terminal - no need for a taxi to get the those in the center.

Budget

  • Hostal Seyma, Calle 24 de Mayo and Amazonas. right in the center of town.  edit
  • Hostal Zamora, Calle Sevilla de Oro and Pio Jaramillo. this hotel is basic but a fine place to rest. $15 a night for a double room with shared bathroom.  edit
  • Chonta Dorada, pio jaramilo alvarado y Diego de vaca. small rooms, but clean and comfortable. Also has a set lunch for $2.50 which is as good as any other menu in town. $20 a night for a double room with private bathroom, $10 for single.  edit
  • Tzanka Zoo, José Luis Tamayo y Pasaje S/N. Yes, as crazy as it may seem you can stay in the zoo! The rooms vary in level of comfort so be sure to inspect your room before agreeing to stay. There is a large communal area to relax in. There is also a fairly large communal kitchen which guests are able to use, also Wi-Fi availiable. On a sunny day it is an excellent place to spot local birds such as tanagers, casiques, oropendolas some hummingbirds and if you are lucky woodpeckers too! Guests have free access to the Zoo which is small - contains some monkeys, parrots, a small caiman crocodile, turtles (which roam free), snakes and other species of birds. Fine if you don't mind a bit of noise from the animals and guests visiting the zoo every now and then (this is mainly school children from the local area). $25 a night, reduced rate for long stays.  edit

There are plenty of other hotels and hostals in Zamora like the Gymifa Hotel or Torres Internacional Hotel ($10 per night for a single room).

Medium

For better accommodation try the Orillas del Zamora Hotel near the Zamora river or the Wuampushcar Hotel.

  • hotel Betina. A nice hotel with spacious, comfortable rooms $25 for a double room with private bathroom.  edit


Expensive

  • Copalinga, you will need to get a taxi from the bus station., [4]. Set 5 minutes by car from the town center this offers 100 Ha of private land right next to the Podocarpus National Park to its guests. The owner is Belgian and speaks Spanish, English and French. $26 per person for a rustic room and $54.50 per person for a first class room.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

If you are looking for a bustling night life town, then Zamora is not the place to be, although there are a number of Karaoke bars in town. During the evenings you will find that the main square (Parque Central de Zamora) a relatively lively place to be. Many families and young groups use this as a place to meet and chat with friends. You could also go down to the Malecon, the Zamora river is lit up in a green glow from lights by the river.

Work[edit]

There is a small English school in the town, Fine Tuned English [5], it employs around 10 teachers (including a number of foreign teachers) and 350 students attend the school. It is part of a larger company, with the headquarters in Loja.

Get out[edit]

Most journeys from Zamora include going first to Loja. About 4 hrs away (via Loja), just south of Zamora, is Vilcabamba. Vilcabamba is a small, fairly touristy town surrounded by stunning views and walks. North along the road out of Zamora there are many small towns. These include Zumbi, Yanzatza (the largest town in Zamora - Chinchipe province) and Gualaquiza. Gualaquiza is a nice town, relatively undiscovered by tourists.



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