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An impressive deep green hill over 1968.5 feet high rises on the horizon. From its ranges looks beautiful and challenging with a foggy cloud covering its summit, a cotton like halo that makes a great postcard out of this site.
The Jaboncillo Hill is located in the Picoazá parish of Portoviejo, Manabí province. Its very innocent name refers to the huge number of Jaboncillo trees (Sapindus saponaria) that grow on its soils, a species often used to obtain detergent.
But besides its natural beauty, this site stands out for the immense cultural value that its hills holds. The Manteña culture, an indigenous tribe from the Ecuadorian coast, settled on this hill from 700 AD until the arrival of the Spaniards.
This over 3,500 hectares protected area, with a large number of impenetrable mountains, currently offers tourists and adventurers the opportunity to glance to the past and enjoy its wild-natural side through hiking trails and cycling tours.
This area has an important site museum in which the Manteña culture remains are showcased. As we move forward on the trails, we step into the old ways of living of the Manteños. We visit the nearby rivers where the Manteños fished and the wells, which supplied the water for their crops and daily hydration; most of them, defying time, are still in use.
On the way up the hill you will find cherry trees, “ovos” and many other fruits and plants from the dry forest. Each meter is an adventure with nature as a background.
At 1.312 feet high you’ll arrive to a base camp with some Manta’s huts replicas, ceremonial centers and life-size statues; along with the daily working paraphernalia such as snake hunting tools and many other museography elements to better know the manners and traditions locals still celebrate such as the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul between other religious-founded festivities.
But that’s not all the adventure Jaboncillo Hill has. We climb 328 foot further to reach the ceremonial center, which has been set and preserved in the exact same place since ancient times. The site is surrounded with original “tolas” (tombs) and the famous Manteño’s U shaped chairs, used by the leaders and authorities back then. The site was strategically located to allow the observation of the coast and guard it from enemies.
The journey does not end there. No, not yet. Travelers can reach the summit where they’ll enjoy a breathtaking sight and learn more about wild animal species in the area. The trip is absolutely worth it.
More information: http://www.hojas-jaboncillo.gob.ec