About a week ago our friends Vance and Cindy told us they had some friends coming to visit from California and they wondered if we could set up a tour of the mangroves along the Portoviejo river. We called our friend Pasqual of Pasqual Tours (0988988583 – for you locals) and he agreed to take us all up the river from the boca (mouth of the river at the beach) by boat to see the flora and fauna there.
Meanwhile, Tim and Natalie had two couples visiting from Michigan who also wanted to see the unique sights up the river, so we made a morning of it today and took a tour up the river to – meander through the mangroves.
The river flows from the mountains to the east, down through the city of Portoviejo, down to the fertile fields surrounding Rocafuerte, and then into the flats around Corre Aguas, and Charapoto, where it empties into the ocean between San Jacinto and Crucita to our south. From the boca it takes only minutes to be closed in on both sides by thick stands of mangrove trees which provide a unique habitat for many shore birds and other animals.
After the first bend the river narrows and the waters are calm and peaceful.
Most of the waterway is surrounded by mangroves, but occasionally one sees ramps and ladders leading down to the water from neighboring homes.
Mangrove trees are uniquely able to abide saline water and the shifting water levels with their long flowing root system.
The root system works to hold the shoreline intact against erosion and provides cover and homes for countless numbers of animals. Like this iguana we spotted sunning himself on a dry mangrove root. (Did you spot him in the picture above?)
Indeed we saw dozens of iguanas from green to brown to brick-red colored in the mangroves along the river.
The iguana in this last picture was the largest we saw and had to be over six feet long from nose to tail with a hefty body and surly attitude!
But the main attraction of the boca waterway is the birds! Pelicans, frigates, herons, terns, and countless other shore birds fill the trees and line up along the shoreline displaying unbelievable beauty and grace to all of us lucky enough to travel up their river.
Huge pelicans perch on small twig like branches monitoring our passing.
Frigates jockey for a roosting spot in this mangrove tree.
Several different species of heron and egrets grace the shoreline and trees.
All of us had a fantastic experience on a most perfect day with clear skies, bright white cumulus clouds, and breezy temperatures in the mid-eighties.
Many of the smaller birds would fly off or scamper away just as we approached making it difficult to get good pictures, so we have included this short video of scores of small tern-like birds clustered on the shoreline.
We also caught this video clip of a large egret taking wing and flying off up the river.
We wish all of our friends and family could experience the joy of being so close to nature and see these wonderful sights, but this brief post will have to do for now.
Life is good in Ecuador!