The reserve protects two hydrographic basins in the northwest of the country, the Mataje river to the north and Cayapas to the south; from which the name of the protected area is derived. the river basin Mataje is binational since we share it with Colombia. The Cayapas River originates outside of
the reserve.
Its main tributaries from the interior of the continent are the Santiago, Ónzole and San
Miguel. The delta system formed by both rivers at their mouth to the ocean includes
estuaries, channels, islands, islets, sandbanks and various types of beaches.
A notable aspect that characterizes this area is the presence of warm waters throughout the
the year (between 26 oC and 29 oC), a circumstance that causes the thermal fluctuation to be the minor that is registered in Ecuadorian waters; hence its great climatic stability.
The reserve protects the mangroves that grow in the estuary formed by the Cayapas and
Slaughter in the north of the province of Esmeraldas; in doing so, guards both the great
biodiversity that exists as the ancient traditions of communities and peoples
neighboring ancestral communities, for whom the mangrove swamp is the main source of livelihood. Within Mangrove trees up to 60 meters high have been recorded in this protected area; considered the largest in the world, they undoubtedly grow here due to the abundance of
nutrients and the existence of a very stable climate, since throughout the year there are
few temperature variations.

Ecuador Turístico (s,f)

When they flow into the Pacific Ocean, the Cayapas and Mataje rivers form a delta where
There are several islands, islets and channels that make up the majority of the reserve. He
protected area also includes a transition zone towards mainland ecosystems,
known as “guandales”, and finally the tropical humid forest inland.
Within the protected area is the Majagual Interpretation Center. Besides,
there is only one trail for hiking within the reserve:
Long Way – House of Pargo. It is a path of 6.5 kilometers of medium difficulty and in the
which guides are required to tour its landscapes and learn about wildlife
from the area. The following river tours allow you to learn about life in the mangrove swamp.

● La Mongonera-La Trocha. 3 km route.
● Honey – Pichangal. 1 km route through the mangrove swamp.
● Sta. Rosa – El Bajito. 2 km route.
● Guachal – The Shortcuts. 3 km tour through the mangroves.
● Changuaral-Rubber. 1 km route.
For all these routes and trails you need the support of a guide.

In the forests that now make up the reserve and in the area surrounding it, it flourished more than
two thousand years ago La Tolita, one of the pioneering pre-Hispanic cultures in the art of casting metals.
The metallurgy of the Tolita – Tumaco (north of Esmeraldas and southern Colombia) is
considered one of the most exquisite on the continent, both for the creativity in its designs
as for his skill in the techniques of casting, blowing and casting of metals. they
considered the pioneers in the casting of gold and platinum. During the 1980s, the
mangrove was seriously affected along the entire Ecuadorian coast due to the installation
uncontrolled shrimp pools; In response and in order to protect these mangroves,
the Ecuadorian State declared them an Ecological Reserve in 1995. In doing so they benefited
also several Afro-Ecuadorian communities that live in and around the reserve, to
for whom the mangrove is their main source of livelihood. From the ecosystem they collect shells, clams, oysters, crabs, prawns, shrimp and fish.

The mangroves and their labyrinths
The great attraction of the reserve are the mangroves that grow at the mouth of the rivers
Sea. There, the plants and animals are used to living in this mixture of fresh water and
salty. The mangroves are connected by channels or estuaries that also serve as pathways.
access from the towns of San Lorenzo, Borbón, La Tola and Valdez (Limones). The
channels that are most used are those of El Pailón, Boca de Mataje and Bolívar. The mangrove more notable is next to San Lorenzo and is called Majagual.

Diego Tirira ( 28 Diciembre 2007)

Bird island
Opposite the Bolívar channel, thousands of pelicans come to rest or mate on this island,
herons, seagulls, blue footed boobies, patillos, frigates and other birds.
La Tolita
Another great attraction is the La Tolita archaeological site. In the south of the reserve there have been found vestiges of the culture of the same name, which lived in the area between the years 500 to. C. to 500 d. C. The site has several tolas, small elevations that cover tombs where the deceased was buried with ceramics, gold and platinum jewelry, and food that accompanied it in the transition from him to the afterlife.
The main hydrographic basins in the area are made up of the Cayapas and Mataje rivers. He
hydrographic system is also made up of estuaries and channels that constitute
natural subsystems of ecological and economic importance, since they allow subsistence
of the local populations located in the buffer zone (MAE/GEF 1998).

Sistema Nacional de Areas Protegidas (s,f)

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