Macas - Preserving Nature and Cultural Heritage
The town of Macas, Ecuador, was once known as “Sevilla del Ora” which, when translated, means “Golden Seville”. This historical town began its humble beginnings as a Missionary Outpost formed by the Dominican Church shortly after the Spanish conquest in 1533. This thriving centre also became a formidable Spanish trading post during its early stages of its history.
Later on Macas became a founding centre of great affluence and prosperity that was created by the surrounding gold mines in this particular area. Unfortunately this came to an abrupt end due to the many violent attacks on the town in conjunction with the mines. In turn, with the mines abandoned for the safety of those inhabiting the area, Macas began to deteriorate.
Today Macas, the capital of Morona-Santiago Province, has developed an important role in the development and commercial sector. It stands with a population of over 30,000 people and has increased in tourism since the 1998 treaty between Macas and Peru. Even with all these developments and advances, the area is still very well protected by the local Shuar and Achuar people. Attempts to ensure the preservation of this natural habitat has seen action taken against companies that wish to take unfair advantage of the virgin lands - such as petroleum companies. Such efforts have brought great advantages to the town and seen to the continued survival of over 400 years of its history.
Macas is easily accessible by crossing the Rio Pastaza by one of two bridges. In most cases large vehicles are not allowed to cross over these bridges. However buses have been provided to transport visitors across. Once on the other side of the bridge, travelers are able to enter the main city by means of the road north of Puyo.
Towering over this intriguing city is the massive snowcapped 'Sangay' Volcano with an altitude of 5250 meters. This is the seventh largest volcano in Ecuador and it is probably one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Residents of the city of Macas are able to enjoy this fearful sight from their city - though they are situated relatively far from it. At night the volcano emits a gentle halo of light as the lava inside the crater continues to bubble at excessive heats.
Clearly Macas is a city of many mysteries. From the nearby cinnamon plants to the lush valleys, sparkling streams and wonderful birdlife, it is clear that Macas is a place that should be enjoyed to the fullest.