Explore the Spondylus Route of Ecuador

Stretching along the Pacific coastline of Ecuador from Esmeraldas in the north into Peru in the south, the Spondylus route features some of the country’s most beautiful natural areas, as well as elements of its culture, history and pre-Columbian archeology. Emphasizing the importance of Ecuadorian culture, the route takes its name from the spectacular Spondylus shell which had significance to the ancient Valdivia culture in Ecuador. Evidence of this ancient culture and others has been uncovered in the archeological excavations featured on the route, which also includes spectacular beaches, tranquil nature reserves, wildlife, majestic mountains, and breathtaking scenery all along the way.

Traveling the Spondylus Route can be done as part of an organized tour, on public transport, or as a self-drive adventure. History and culture enthusiasts will enjoy the fact that great care has been taken to preserve the archeological discoveries that reveal interesting facets of the ancient cultures of Ecuador. Archeological excavations that can be found along the route include La Tolita Pampa de Oro in the Esmeraldas province, Valdivia and Sumpa in the Santa Elena Province, and Agua Blanca, Cerro de Jaboncillo, Japoto and Chirije in the Manabí province. Artifacts from the archeological sites are displayed in some of the many museums along the route, such as Guayaquil’s Casa de la Cultura which displays a priceless collection of prehistoric gold, headdresses, clay whistles and examples of ancient stonework. The El Museo Municipal features Ecuador’s history, colonial art and modern art, as well as information and examples relating to the country’s archeological treasures.

Traveling along Ecuador’s coastline allows visitors to enjoy the pristine beaches and picturesque villages, while getting to know the different ethnic groups and their cultures and traditions which have been handed down through generations. From the Mestizos and Montubios of the coastal region to the indigenous people of the southern Andes, the friendly people of Ecuador welcome visitors to share their unique music, religious customs, delightful cuisine and expertly made handicrafts.

With thirteen conservation areas along the Spondylus Route there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna of Ecuador. To the north is the Cayapas-Mataje Mangrove Ecological Reserve, while to the south the Machalilla National Park includes the Isla de la Plata – home to the blue-footed booby. From June to September each year humpback whales are likely to be seen as they perform their mating rituals offshore. The Gulf of Guayaquil lies further south and, together with the Jambeli Archipelao and Morro Channel, offers great opportunities for dolphin watching. Continuing south, visitors can explore the Arenillas Ecological Reserve outside Machala, as well as the Puyango National Forest and Podocarpus National Park which are accessed via the city of Loja.

The Spondylus Route also offers a host of opportunities for hang-gliding, paragliding, hiking, canyoning, mountain biking, sailing, surfing, diving, snorkeling, and so the list goes on. Certainly, for a complete and unforgettable Ecuadorian experience the Spondylus Route has it all.