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San Luis de Pambil

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San Luis de Pambil is a small town in Bolivar Province in the warm Coastal Lowlands of Ecuador, or at least in the foothills of the Andes mountains as they slope downwards towards the coastal lowlands. San Luis is the main access point to the stunningly beautiful Piedra Blanca region. It's one of many rural agricultural communities in the area, cultivating crops such as plantains, oranges, sugarcane, coffee and cacao (chocolate) in the fertile soil and sub-tropical climate. The area was once virgin rainforest, which was partly destroyed by the original settlers, around 50 years ago. The remaining forest is threatened by logging, though environmental awareness is gradually increasing and new ecotourism projects are trying to create alternative sources of income and conserve the forests.

The climate is warm all year round, with more rain January to May, the drier season is June to December. When to visit [1] gives month-by-month notes on climate, crops and possible adventure activities (for some, such as rafting, rainy season can be preferable).

Get in

By bus, travel to Zapotal (on the main route from Santo Domingo to Guayaquil, between Quevedo and Babahoyo). This takes around 5-6 hours from Quito, or about 3 hours from Guayaquil. Zapotal is just a small collection of restaurants and shops on the main road - get off here and wait at the T-junction for the local buses to San Luis de Pambil (about an hour, last bus around 6pm). The other, far more adventurous, way in is the 2 day hike down from Salinas de Guaranda, in Bolivar Province - go with a local guide.

Get around

On foot. Or hire a horse to explore higher up the valley.

See

Mountain valleys, waterfalls and streams, bits of rainforest, hummingbirds, toucans, local life in an agricultural community in an area of extreme poverty and natural beauty.

Local reforestation and development NGO CRACYP [2]

Do

Walk, trek, photograph, bathe in waterfalls, relax, watch birds, hire a horse, visit productive charity projects in local communities...

Go river rafting on a traditional-style balsawood raft. Rafting information from [3].

Buy

Not a lot, so make sure you bring anything vitally important with you. Food supplies are easily available, but there is little in the way of souvenirs or luxuries. There is no bank, so bring enough cash for your trip.

Eat

Food is basic, mostly made from local ingredients - chicken, rice, plantains, sweetcorn, avocadoes, etc.

Drink

Aguardiente - this 'firewater' is made from sugarcane, which is crushed, fermented and then distilled into a clear, potent 60 proof drink. CADO, a local cooperative has achieved organic certification for their sugarcane plantations and can take you on a tour to see how aguardiente is made and taste the results. CADO [4]. Tours arranged through Eco-Friendly Farmstays (see below).

Sleep

Eco-Friendly Farmstays is a charity-run eco-tourism project, offering farmstays with local families. The price for each night's accommodation includes a tree which you must plant (with help), so you will be directly involved in reforestation in the area. It's very basic, no-frills accommodation, but the people are friendly and you will experience authentic rural village life in a little-visited part of Ecuador, well off the beaten track.

Contact

Get out


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