On our last trip to Guayaquil, we made it a goal to see howler monkeys. And one of the best places to see them is the privately run wildlife reserve of Bosque Cerro Blanco. The foundation that protects the land where the howler monkeys live is an NGO based in Guayaquil. Their goal is to not only to protect the remaining dry forest but to rehabilitate surrounding acres in order to provide more habitat for endangered species. They compliment their work with educational opportunities for local school children in hopes that the local population will join efforts to protect the remaining forest.
We chose to visit on New Years Day which made the trip a little more complicated. Normally, you would call ahead and arrange for a guide or visit on a weekend when hiking trips are already planned for small groups. They have three different trails to hike and a myriad of birds to see, especially at the lowest elevations. One trail is short and you are allowed to hike on your own. But it does not venture deep into the reserve, where the howler monkeys are. That trail is longer and can take a few hours to complete. The foundation strongly recommends going with one of their guide as the trails can be hard to follow. But the guard of the day told us we could hike at our own risk since no guides were available for the day. We chose to do so – we are experienced hikers and felt confident of our ability not to get lost. After all, it wasn’t like hiking in the high Andes where fog or rain could obscure landmarks.
The day was warm and we were happy that we carried plenty of water. During the month of January, the area is very dry with almost no green vegetation. We saw lizard after lizard enjoying the hot, humid day. We heard multiple birds, saw a few, but took photos of none. We didn’t get to see howler monkeys. Our hike was rudely interrupted by a vicious wasp that chose to attack, leaving an incredibly large welt on the back of my oldest son. My youngest son said the offending wasp was huge, about 1.5 inches in size. The pain of the sting was enough that we felt it made more sense to turn around than to continue on. No sense in waiting for an allergic reaction to come on strong while hiking further and further away from the main road. Especially while on vacation.
The howler monkeys will have to wait for our next visit.
If you would like to visit Bosque Cerro Blanco, we suggest calling or emailing ahead and making arrangements for a tour – 593 – 0986225077 / 593 – 0994376275; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bosque Cerro Blanco
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Remember to call ahead as the guard at the gate may not let you enter without a reservation.