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You are here:6.4.2 Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve

6.4.2 Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve

This 55213 hectare reserve protects the Churute Lake and its surrounding deciduous forest and includes a large expanse of Mangrove Forest at the mouth of Guayas River.  The reserve is located in Guayas Province and its elevation ranges from 0 – 700 meters.  The area can be easily visited from Guayaquil, though the closest city is Naranjal.  Churute Lake is home to the only population of Horned Screamers on the west side of the Andes.  The park has registered 300+ bird species, including close to 30 Tumbesian endemics only shared with Northern Perú.



Tropical Deciduous Forest, Mangrove Forest.



Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve

No special arrangements are needed to visit the reserve unless you want to have a boat ride in the mangrove forest.  Should you plan to visit the mangrove forest by boat contact any of the park rangers, Bruno Yanez phone: 091923279, Fernando Cedeño phone: 098995012, or Maximo Reyes, phone: 097695493.  The area can be visited yearround, but during the rainy months extending from late December to early May.  Mosquitoes can be exceptionally numerous.

There is regular bus transportation from Guayaquil to Naranjal.  The Churute Lake lies close to the E-25 Guayaquil-Naranjal highway, and can be birded on foot.  In order to visit the Mangrove forest and some of the deciduous habitat you will need private transportation.  The possibility of hiring a local vehicle is slim, so driving your own vehicle is a better option. The road from Guayaquil to Churute can be driven in any kind of vehicle, but a high clearance vehicle is needed to drive the side road heading into the mangroves.  During the rainy season you will need a four wheel drive vehicle.  The entrance fee is US $10 per person for foreigners, US $2 for Ecuadorian residents and US $ 1 for Ecuadorian children under 12 years old.



Manglares-Churute Ecologic Reserve

Start in Guayaquil from the southeast side of the city; near the airport and the bus terminal at the roundabout located in the intersection of Avenues Pedro Mendez Gilbert.  Here take the E70 highway heading to Duran, or “Eloy Alfaro”.  You will cross over two bridges, both of which are known as “Puente de la Unión Nacional”.  Stopping on the bridges is forbidden and you should NOT do it.  Among the many Martins and Swallows you can see flying around the bridge you can see Chestnut-collared Swallow as they nest below the bridge during the rainy season.

(Click here to download Map. Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve)  

Once you get at the end of the Puente de la Unión Nacional Bridge, now in Durán, reset your odometer to 0.0 km.  Drive on the 4 lane highway for 1.7 km.  At this point you will see a road exiting the highway on your right.  Take this side road heading to “Virgen de Fatima”. 

Drive on this road for 6.4 km, or 8.1 km from Guayaquil.  The scrubby and grassy habitat along this road floods during the rainy season.   Find any side road or path on your right.  Some of the birds that can be seen in this open area are: Pinnated Bittern , Striated Heron, Snail Kite, Savanna Hawk , Northern Crested Caracara , Striped Cuckoo , Croaking Ground-Dove, Pacific Parrotlet, Yellow-bellied Elaenia , Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant , Vermilion Flycatcher , Short-tailed Field-Tyrant , Masked Water-Tyrant,Snowy-throated Kingbird , Superciliated Wren , Streaked Saltator, Variable Seedeater , Parrot-billed Seedeater , Chestnut-throated Seedeater , Scrub Blackbird, Peruvian Meadowlark and Saffron Siskin.

Continue on the main road another 1.4 km, or 9.5 km from Guayaquil.  Here you can stop at the gas station on your right.  The area behind the gas station is a spot that might have some of the species previously mentioned.

Driving on for 1.1 km, or 10.6 km from Guayaquil, you will find a toll booth on the road. Continue past the booth for 15.8 km, or 26.4 km from Guayaquil.  At this point you will get to a roundabout.  Here take the first exit on your right heading to Naranjal and Machala.  After only 0.2 km, or 26.6 km from Guayaquil you will cross a bridge over Bulu-Bulu River.  Here below the bridge there is a nesting colony of Chestnut-collared Swallows.

Drive on for 18.6 km, or 45.2 km from Guayaquil.  At this point there is a dirt road leaving the highway on your right.  This side road may be signed pointing to “La Flora”.  Here reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future reference.  Opposite to this site and across the highway there is dirt track heading to northern end of Churute Lake.  The walk to the lake is some 2 km length each way.  This need only be attempted if you have not already seen the Horned Screamer from the highway.

Drive toward “La Flora” for 3.4 km until arriving to divide in the road.  Take the right hand road, and start looking for a place to be able to park and see the shrimp ponds on the left.  On these ponds, one of the few Ecuadorean records for Cinnamon Teal occurred in 2006. 

Drive on 1.8 km, or 5.2 km from the highway.  At this point the road cuts through a section of deciduous forest.  Stop here and look for birds along the road for some 0.5 km, or explore the nice in forest trails on your right.  Some of the birds that are found in this area are:  Little Tinamou, Gray-cheeked Parakeet, Pacific Pygmy-Owl, Baron's Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat, Ecuadorian Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Red-billed Scythebill, Great Antshrike, Collared Antshrike, Jet Antbird, White-backed Fire-eye, Pacific Elaenia, Greenish Elaenia, Pacific Royal-Flycatcher, Gray-breasted Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Black-and-white Becard, One-colored Becard, Ecuadorian Thrush, Long-billed Gnatwren, Gray-and-gold Warbler, Black-and-white Tanager, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Yellow-tailed Oriole and Saffron Siskin

Drive further on for 1.4 km, or 6.6 km from the highway.  Here you will arrive at gate in the road and a house on the left.  Park in here and continue on foot.  Behind the house there is the start of a trail that goes inside the mangrove forest.  At the edge of mangroves is where in 2008 I recorded a young maleHumboldt´s Sapphire.  This record is a range extension for this species which was formerly only known from Esmeraldas provinces some 370 km north.  Here in the mangrove look for Mangrove Warbler.

Return to the E-25 highway.  From this point of the beginning of the road to La Flora, you are 45.2 miles from Guayaquil.  Drive toward Naranjal for 0.8 km, or 46.0 km from Guayaquil.  From this point to the next 1.0 km until 47.0 km from Guayaquil, the Churute Lake marshes will be close to the highway.  Look on top of the trees and tall bushes for the Horned Screamer. Be very careful when parking as there is a lot of fast traffic.

Drive on for 1.9 km, or 48.9 km from Guayaquil, and you will see the driveway heading to the park ranger station on the left.  This is the place where you register and pay your entrance fee.  Some of the more common birds listed above can also be seen just behind the ranger station. 

If you are planning to continue on your trip to some of the birding sites further south like Buenaventura Reserve, drive south beyond Naranjal for 67.8 km, or 116.7 km from Guayaquil.  From this point to the next 0.4 km, or until 117.1 km from Guayaquil, behind an abandoned tollbooth on the right side of the road, look in grassy habitat for Black-lored Yellowthroat, Crimson-breasted Finch, and Large-billed Seed-Finch. Drive south for another 35.8 km, or 152.9 km from Guayaquil.  Here the road splits. The left road goes to “El Guabo”.  Stay on the main road to the right and continue for 9.0 km, or 161.9 km from Guayaquil.  At this point you will arrive at a roundabout where the right hand exit takes you to Machala, and the left hand exit takes you on the road to Pasaje and Santa Rosa.


Birds to look for

Manglares-Churute Ecologic Reserve.

Mangrove   Forest (MF), Deciduous Forest (DF), Dry Scrub (DS).

Common: Striated   Heron (DS), Snail Kite (DS), Northern-crested   Caracara (DS,DF), Eared Dove (DS), Croaking Ground-Dove (DS), Pacific Parrotlet (DS,DF), Striped   Cuckoo (DS), Pacific Pygmy-Owl (DS,DF), Pacific Hornero (DS), Amazilia Hummingbird (DS,DF), Blue-crowned Motmot (DF), Golden-olive Woodpecker (DF), Lineated Woodpecker (DF), Streak-headed Woodcreeper (DS,DF), Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet (DS,DF), Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant (DS), Common Tody-Flycatcher (DS,DF), Yellow-olive Flatbill (DF),  Bran-colored Flycatcher (DS), Vermilion   Flycatcher (DS), Boat-billed   Flycatcher (DS,DF), Rusty-margined   Flycatcher (DS), Fasciated   Wren (DS,DF), Streaked Saltator (DS,   DF), Variable Seedeater (DS), Chestnut-throated   Seedeater (DS), Scrub Blackbird (DS), Peruvian   Meadowlark (DS).

Uncommon: Little   Tinamou (DF), Savanna Hawk (DS), Gray-cheeked Parakeet (DF), Baron's Hermit (DF), Long-billed Starthroat (DS,DF), Ecuadorian Trogon (DF), Red-billed Scythebill (DF), Great Antshrike (DS,DF), Collared Antshrike (DS,DF), Jet Antbird (DF,DS), Pacific Elaenia (DF), Greenish Elaenia (DF), Pacific Royal-Flycatcher (DF), Short-tailed Field-Tyrant (DS), Masked Water-Tyrant (DS), Snowy-throated Kingbird (DS,DF), Black-and-white Becard (DF), One-colored Becard (DF), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (DS,DF), Ecuadorian Thrush (DF), Black-lored Yellowthroat (DS), Superciliated Wren (DS,DF), Long-billed   Gnatwren (DF),   Gray-and-gold Warbler (DF),   White-shouldered Tanager (DF),   Crimson-breasted Finch (DS),   Parrot-billed Seedeater (DS),   Yellow-rumped Cacique (DS,DF).

Rare: Cinnamon Teal, Pinnated Bittern (DS),   Humboldt´s Sapphire (MF/DF), White-backed Fire-eye (DF),   Gray-breasted Flycatcher (DF),   Black-and-white Tanager (DS,DF), Large-billed Seed-Finch (DS),   Saffron Siskin (DS,DF).

Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


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