Read in depth about cultural and natural attractions nearby Piedra Blanca, and see our recommendations for incorporating these attractions into one day tours from Piedra Blanca:
There are a range of cultural attractions and possible tours in the surrounding countryside. This part of Ecuador is beautiful, and off the beaten track. You could tour the countryside by horse or you could enquire about vehicles, or you could walk to the nearer attractions. Ask what is best. You'll need a guide for all these cultural tours with the exception of visiting the local markets (this could be undertaken independently). Some of the places that might interest you include:
Bella Vista – arrange transport (horse or vehicle) to Bella Vista, from where you can trek for two hours up a beautiful river, surrounded by primary rainforest, with dozens of natural swimming pools to a towering waterfall. On the way there you will visit a large rock with various ancient inscriptions that were written by Ecuador's pre-Incan tribes. Nobody knows what these inscriptions signify. This interesting tour is beautiful and highly recommended.
Local markets – Moraspungo holds a local market every Saturday, San Luis de Pambil holds a market every Sunday. These markets are a bustle of activity where the local communities go to buy and sell their goods. They are not orientated towards tourists but provide an interesting insight into the local way of life in rural Ecuador. Buy away and support the local economies!
Chongona waterfall and natural bathing pools – the natural bathing pools are like a cool jacuzzi as the water rushes past you while 10 minutes upriver is the small but beautiful Chongona waterfall.
Pre Inca grave site at San Luis de las Mercedes – there is a large Pre-Inca grave site near San Luis de las Mercedes. It is currently unexcavated and so appears as a large mound of earth. The owner of the land, Don Angel Sisalema, has various pre-Inca artifacts that you can ask to see – don´t ask if you can buy these because he won´t have anything to show future tourists and he doesn´t want to sell them anyway. The community is currently seeking a way to excavate a small part of the grave to create an exhibition. Similar graves in the area have been found to be rich in ancient artefacts.
Trekking to Salinas
– this is a highly rewarding 2-day trek from the tropical zone high into the paramo at Salinas
(about which you can read in your guidebook). You will pass through numerous small villages that are completely unaccustomed to foreigners so expect a lot of friendly inquisitiveness. It is a stunningly beautiful trek, particularly if it is a clear day. You will camp overnight on the way. You could arrange for horses to carry any large bags to make the journey easier. Alternatively you might be able to hitch rides part of the way if you wish. For more info see the trekking
Recommendation 1 – day tour to the waterfall and stone inscriptions at Bella Vista. Transport options: horse or chartered private vehicle.
Recommendation 2 – if it is Saturday, it's market day in Moraspungo. After breakfast, leave Piedra Blanca by horse. Stop to visit the small aguardiente plant on the way out of Piedra Blanca. Visit the market and aguardiente distillery plant at Moraspungo and take lunch in a local restaurant. On the way back visit the waterfall at Chongona. Return to Piedra Blanca later in the afternoon. Transport options: horse, chartered private vehicle or walk to San Luis de Pambil and take public transport to Moraspungo (you´ll miss Chongona with the latter option).
Recommendation 3 – if it is Sunday, it's market day in San Luis de Pambil. After breakfast, leave Piedra Blanca by horse. Stop to visit the small aguardiente plant on the way out of Piedra Blanca. Visit the market in San Luis de Pambil and then move on to to the ancient grave site and Don Angel´s ancient artefacts at San Luis de las Mercedes. You could take lunch at a local house in San Luis de las Mercedes, or in a restaurant in San Luis de Pambil, or return to Piedra Blanca for a late lunch. Transport options: horse or walk.
– 2-day trek to Salinas (N.B. the Salinas in Bolivar Province, not the Salinas on the coast!) or trek the "Alcohol Contraband Route" - [more trekking info