Agua Blanca

Village in Parque Nacional Machalilla

A visit to this small indigenous community and its surrounding territory is a chance to escape tar-and-concrete modern Ecuador. You’ll find the turn-off, where you pay an entry fee (which covers museum admission and a guide), about 5.5km north of Puerto López on the right. From here it’s another 6km down a dusty, bumpy road to the village. Once there, you can see pre-Colombian art, soak in a sulfur pool, get a free mud mask,pick from three types of massage, and hike the surrounding forest.

A fairly delightful one-hour walk (2km) crosses a riverbed and passes through tropical forest. Stop along the way to soak at a four-meter-deep sulfur pool, where the combination of 70 percent natural minerals and therapeutic mud are equal to a spa treatment. There's also a small treatment center where you can have mud massage for $15.

Other onsite facilities include two small shops selling basic snacks and drinks, plus a toilet and showers in which to wash the sulfur and mud off. The area also has hammocks to lounge around in. Close to the end of the walk there’s a raised platform with panoramic views and plenty of interesting bird and plant life.

The sun can be merciless during the warmer months, it’s easy to succumb to heat exhaustion while walking in the area – bring a hat, plus plenty of sunscreen and water. Alternatively, those with a 4WD or willing mototaxi can drive the 2km to the sulfur pool along a dirt track.