Goats in Agua Blanca
Ecotourism

Agua Blanca – Living History

Ecotourism: Tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife. 
— Oxford Living Dictionaries

Agua Blanca Community

Agua Blanca is a friendly historic community five minutes northeast of Puerto Lopez. Some residents are direct descendants of the Manteño civilization, who lived here between 800 and 1532 A.D.

Community members keep their history alive with their lifestyle. They enjoy sharing their history with the public via tourism and a full time archaeology project in which anyone can participate. I wrote about my digging day here.

The small community has several hundred residents and several thousand goats. The goats wander around everywhere except crop fields, where they are fenced out, and inside buildings.

Goats
Goats can go anywhere except where crops are grown

 

Agua Blanca Ecotourism

Agua Blanca was one of the first Ecuadorian coastal communities to embrace ecotourism in the 1980’s.

 

A $5 tourist entrance fee is the primary income source for the community. The fee includes entrance to a museum, a guided two hour tour, the sulfur laguna, and many areas you can explore on your own. Horseback rides, massages, archaeology dig participation, and other activities can be arranged as desired for additional fees.

 

The guided tour begins in the town center, featuring a church, museum, restaurant, and general store. The museum is full of historical artifacts and placards in English and Spanish. Portraits of living direct descendants are on the walls. When my mom and I toured, our guide was one of the descendants.

Museum

Artifacts
Museum is full of artifacts and informational placards
Photos of living descendants on top

 

Knives, hunting, fishing, and cooking tools are on display. Jars are filled with fermenting insects, lizards and snakes. Urns contain bones arranged as they were found after their second burial. Bodies were buried and ceremonially dug up later. The bones were placed into urns, often with other loved ones, and re-buried.

 

Human remains in urn
Remains of two adults in a broken burial urn

 

Walking Tour

The tour then goes through the countryside, meandering alongside fields, pigs, chickens, goats, and archaeology sites. Guides stop to point out crops, homes, birds, nests, dens, and creatures as you go.

Hand farmed fields produce the community’s vegetables and fruits. Bee keeping produces honey, sold on-site.

 

House
Home surrounded by fruit trees and vegetables

 

Sulfur Pond

As the tour comes to a close, the volcanic spring-fed sulfur laguna comes into view. Cups of good-for-your-skin sulfuric mud await. Smear the mud on your body and face then hang out watching hummingbirds and butterflies while it dries.

A soak in the warm sulfur laguna pool to soak up more skin nutrients is next. Then an outdoor shower to rinse off any remaining mud and skin is left feeling baby soft and smooth for days.

Sulfur laguna
Soaking in the sulfur laguna

Massages available with prior arrangement are enjoyed next to the laguna. Across the road from the laguna are restaurants featuring empanadas, corviches, juice and beer.

Restaurant
Restaurant by sulfur laguna

 

A short walk brings you back to the village center. If you did not eat at the laguna, the restaurant here serves highly recommended goat stew.

 

Getting there

If you are not driving, I recommend taking a taxi to Agua Blanca, then have them pick you up several hours later. Otherwise a 5 minute bus ride from Puerto Lopez followed by a 5 km (3 mile) walk in the sun takes you from to the main road to the village center.

Would you smear sulfur rich mud on your body and soak in the laguna?

 

Click here to read more about Agua Blanca.

Emily is a US Expat in Ecuador. She grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. Emily's goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let Emily know what you would like to read more about!

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