Zamora - The City of Birds and Waterfalls
If you’re looking for a destination in Ecuador with a difference, Zamora might just be what you had in mind. With only about 16,000 people living in the entire Zamora-Chinchipe province, this is one of the most sparsely populated parts of the country. Zamora is the capital of this southeastern province and has the second highest population in Zamora-Chinchipe. Like many other Ecuadorian cities, it is situated near a convergence of rivers giving it river-access to other cities and towns. Its proximity to the Zamora, Jamboe and Bombuscara rivers and their many beautiful little waterfalls has earned it the nickname the ‘City of Waterfalls’. However it is also known as the ‘City of Birds’ due to the abundance and variety of birds that have been drawn to this lush part of the country.
Zamora is one of Ecuador’s lower-lying cities. Situated at an elevation of only 970 meters above sea level, the city can be found in the lower foothills of the Andes Mountains. In recent years the city has experienced a bit of a boom due to the discovery of gold in surrounding areas. This has led to an increase in population and activity in the town as well as to the adoption of a new nickname ‘the Mining Capital of Ecuador’. However many would feel that Zamora’s true wealth lies, not in what can be found in the surrounding soil, but in what can be found on top of it. Zamora is situated right next to the border of the Podocarpus National Park and this stunning national park is often best reached by boat over the Bombuscara River. It can also be reached by bus and coach and the trip to and from Zamora is a beautiful one.
The town itself was originally founded by the Spanish but after being attacked by indigenous Indians it was reclaimed by the local people. You can still see the descendents of these Indians milling around the town from time to time in their little black shorts. The town itself has a somewhat Spanish feel, complete with central plaza and botanical gardens. The Orquideario Tzanka garden is home to more than 1000 different plants, while the plants at Orquideario Paphinia are often used for medicinal reasons.