Esmeraldas Province

Geographically as well as culturally, Esmeraldas is a unique corner of Ecuador. Here the dry Manabí coastline turns green with palm trees. Inland, the rainforests of Esmeraldas are part of the Chocó bio-geographic region, shared with neighbouring Colombia. And most Esmeraldeños are Afro-Ecuadoreans whose ancestors were brought as slaves to work the cane fields. Their cultural heritage includes marimba music and dance, as well as a special cuisine which makes extensive use of coconut and plantain. You can explore small African and Amerindian villages in the north of the province, and the last remnants of jungle by the Cayapas and Santiago rivers.

Today, there are gold mines and an oil refinery in the province, plus tobacco, cacao and cattle ranching. Shrimp farms have destroyed much of the region's mangroves, and uncontrolled lumbering is decimating the rainforest in one of the worst ecological catastrophes in Ecuador. Despite its wealth in natural resources, Esmeraldas is among the poorest provinces in the country.

Ins and outs

There are daily flights between Esmeraldas and Quito, as well as very good road connections to the highlands and along the coast. Two paved roads run from Quito to Esmeraldas via Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and La Independencia, respectively; another connects San Lorenzo to Ibarra. The coastal road, fully paved goes via Borbón to the Colombian border and south to Guayaquil. There is frequent bus service throughout the region.



This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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