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 and get an overview of the surrounding forest.
The archaeological museum is well worth a visit; Spanish-speaking guides explain the significance of the artifacts, including well-preserved ceramics and funeral urns. The tour continues a short walk away at the Manta site, believed to have been an important political capital of the Manta people. Only the bases of the buildings can be seen, but there are thought to be approximately 400 buildings, some waiting for more complete excavation.
Then it’s a fairly delightful hour-plus walk, across a bone-dry riverbed and through an equally arid tropical forest. You can stop along the way to soak in the sulfur pool, where the combination of hot water and therapeutic mud are the equal of any spa treatment. Close to the end of the walk there’s a raised platform with panoramic views and plenty of interesting birdlife and plant life, which knowledgeable guides will point out. Because of the merciless sun it’s easy to succumb to heat exhaustion while walking in the area, so bring a hat, sunscreen and water.