After our lengthy bus ride from Huarez in Peru to Puerto Lopez in Ecuador, we have found ourselves in a rather nice “deluxe bungalow” in the fishing town of Puerto Lopez. The bungalow is something of a treat for us so that we could also get our own kitchen for a week.

Our first excursion was to Agua Blanca and the beaches of the Machalilla National Park. Agua Blanca is a “tourist community” which surrounds a volcanic spa and has been a settlement for millennia. The visit included being shown the small museum that details the history of the settlement, a walk around the community being shown the farming practices still in use, and finally the volcanic spa pool where we were given some volcanic mud which can be used as a face/body-mask. The pool itself has a high mineral content, but does rather smell of sulphur, this being one of the main components.

Nearby is the Machalilla National Park, the coastal part of which includes three beaches: Playa Frieta, Playa Turtuga (and also Tortugitas), and Playa de los Frailes. I’m not the biggest fan of sun bathing, so instead I walked along the beach trail, a mere 4km in the blazing midday sun. It’s quite something to be the only person on a beach, which was the case for the first two beaches I arrived at.

At the end of the walk, I met Andy at Playa de los Frailes, and for the first time since we arrived in South America almost a month ago, we swam in the sea; falling off a surf board in Huanchaco obviously didn’t count.

How we did it

We did both Agua Blanca and the beaches as a one day excursion using a taxi which cost us USD 25 in total. The taxi picked us up from where we were staying, dropped us off at Agua Blanca where we stayed for three hours, then picked us up and drove us to Los Frailes where we were left for two and a half hours before being picked up and driven home. Although it’s possible to do the travelling by bus, there is a long walk from where the bus drops you to Agua Blanca itself, and there is no shade along the route.

We paid USD 10 to get in to Agua Blanca, which included the guided tour (all in Spanish) and the spa.

The Machalilla National Park is free to get in to.

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