Full Day Frigatebirds & Cacao Plantation
The coastal mangroves of El Morro Wildlife Reserve and Manglecito islet are unique and still off the beaten track. Experience its overwhelming colony of magnificent frigatebirds, even much larger than in Galapagos.
After a typical lunch at Hacienda El Castillo, it's time to enjoy a good chocolate! The estate has a working cocoa plantation and chocolate factory. Isn't it interesting to observe the whole process from plantation to bean, and after that from bean to bar? And of course to taste yourself!
The striking San Jacinto del Morro church is one of the last remaining wooden churches in colonial style with 3 bell towers (national cultural heritage). This 19th century temple was almost about to collapse, but has recently been restored to its former glory. Astonish about its wooden interior, resembling trusses of a bark covered with wooden planks.
Puerto El Morro is an authentic fisherman's port with rusty fishing boats. A local shrimp grower will ferry you by basic motorized canoe to Manglecito bird Islet (45min), crossing the more salty coastal mangrove ecosystem before reaching open water. During this adventure it might happen that common dolphins escort you! Various species of egret, heron, cormorant and ibis forage along the channel and roseade spoonbills at a shallow tidal creek.
Manglecito Islet lies in the Gulf of Guayaquil, where impressive cargo vessels steam along to the world's seas. Approximately 6,000 swarming big black birds inevitably remind to Hitchcock... A short but challenging stroll leads to a watchtower that overlooks this magnificent frigatebird colony (all year). Admire from within just a few meters male's balloon-sized red pouches (Aug-Sep) or their chicks (Oct-Dec with juvenile plumage). A shrimp farm has embossed the islet's complete heart and makes you aware of both sides of the same coin.
While walking through the cocoa plantation you will learn more about irrigation, sowing, planting and accelerating growth. Your guide will also demonstrate how the pods are harvested. In the small chocolate factory secrets are unveiled about the art of chocolate-making. Most likely this interesting agro-excursion makes your mouth water. It's time to enjoy a handcrafted chocolate!
Included : English speaking guide, private transportation, Lunch