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Puyango is a petrified forest, a strange but very interesting place to visit. It is located in the south-west of Ecuador close to the border with Peru, just off the highway connecting Arenillas and Alamor. You must turn off (or get off the bus) at a military checkpost on a a narrow bridge over the River Puyango. A dusty track follows the course of the river to Puyango village – a one street affair. At the Centro de Interpretación you can visit a small exhibition, pay your entrance and organise tours of the sprawling site. There are several areas you can visit and it is possible to camp or stay in simple cabins if you want to explore all of them.

Entering the forest you become more aware of the grey/brown barrenness around you. Many of the trees are entirely without leaves for the entire year. It feels dusty. A stream runs through one part, creating a little oasis of green, with terracotta leaves. The sound of the birds and the water is very relaxing, similar to the ambience of a Japanese garden. On the floor you can see ancient trees which over a period of 60 -100 million years have been carbonified and remain a constant feature, as hard as stone.


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