For more than 9 months a year the dry forests of Mangahurco have no color. Thousands of branches darken the mood of 10,000 hectares, but they are actually getting ready to surprise tourists.
The guayacán is a tree, icon of the province of Loja (Ecuador). Although they are distributed throughout the intertropical zone of America, they have concentrated in extensive forests in the south of the country. Its appeal: once a year, for 7 or 8 days, they explode into yellow flowers that transform an arid landscape into an indescribable yellow forest.
Although it could pass as “organic marketing” for tourism, the real reason why this phenomenon occurs is because these trees have adapted for survival. When they bloom and drop their flowers in just a few days, their bodies need less water to survive the dry season for those 9 months. In turn, this absence of water makes the guayacán wood hard and much in demand in the market, so it has become one of the most expensive woods. (Previously, trees in these forests were cut to send wood to Peru).
But they grow very slowly. An “average” size tree may be 50-60 years old. But they can still grow. Cutting one of these trees, apart from unbalancing the incredible view, means waiting for decades to be replaced in the yellow picture.
Now that the word has spread and that the local and national tourism entities have invested in the promotion of this forest, more than 5000 tourists visit each year to witness this spectacle. Many go camping under the flowers and wait for the “yellow rainfall”. Others go horseback riding in the vast park, many seek adventure sports and most take hikes in the trails.
But animals are the ones who enjoy the most. They feast on all the flowers that fall and do it knowing that they won’t taste them again for another year.
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