This reserve is located in the province of El Oro, in southwestern Ecuador, near the border with Peru. It protects ecosystems including arid forests and bushes, and mangrove forests.
Endemism levels are as impressive as its biodiversity: there are many species that are found only in the equatorial dry forests of southern Ecuador and northern Peru. Formerly, the area was a reserve for military training, but given the importance of the arid and semi-arid ecosystems it was declared an ecological reserve in order to preserve these ecosystems in perpetuity.
From Guayaquil. Take the road to Machala (186 km) to the south east of Guayaquil, then after Machala go through Sta.Rosa (26 km) and continue until you get to Arenillas city (21km) in the El Oro province.
From Arenillas. Take the Huaquillas-Arenillas road until you get to an entrance sign to the reserve. Follow the road for 4 km until to get to the 'Pintag Nuevo'. To enter to the reserve you need to coordinate with the environment ministry.
Pintag Nuevo neighbourhood. Arenillas. El Oro.
There is no pone a phone on this protected area. For more information contact with the offices of the Regional Direction of Environment- El Oro
El Oro (07) 293-4596.
In the northern area of the reseve you'll find small hillsides, whereas the rest of it is more coastal with mangrove forests along the shoreline. Within the reserve there are some areas of crop and pasture areas. It is crossed by Zarumilla and Arenillas rivers and by the Arenillas to Huaquillas road.
The area has a visitor centre in Nuevo Píntag and there you will find two walking trails.
The Deer Path is a journey of 1.6 kilometre loop that allows you to see part of the arid forest and its endemic flora and fauna species. Although the tour is rated easy, the assistance of a guide is necessary.
Squirrel Path is 3.5 kilometres long, and takes you through the arid forest, where you can see native birds species of the area. The difficulty is medium and requires the support of a guide.
Human activities in and around the reserve have included agriculture, fishing, logging, shrimp farming, brick making and incidental tourism. For over 60 years it was a military area with 11 units . While there are no inhabitants of the protected area, the neighboring towns of Puerto Pitahaya, La Cuca, Chacras, Balsalito, Carcabón, Guabillo, Quebrada Seca, Palmales, Progreso, San Pedro and Huaquillas have all used the area historically for fishing etc.
Arenillas is principally designed to protect forest and dry scrub. In fact, is the largest protected area in Ecuador of dry scrub. Arid ecosystems tend to have to develop survival strategies to cope without much water; such as losing their leaves during the dry season, which saves the little water they manage to trap from evapotranspiration. Species that do this include the guayacán, ceibo and palo santo. Other trees such as algabarro or Muyuyo, have small leaves that keeps water loss to a minimum. In addition, the roots of these trees have the ability to go deep in the earth in search of water.
Another special feature is that in the arid forests of southern Ecuador are home to several endemic bird species. Also of note is the presence of the Sapo Bocon (loudmouth toad).
Flora and fauna of the arid forest
The main attraction of the area is arid tropical forest. You can hike in the area to observe the different species of flora that as well as losing their leaves in the dry season, bloom at certain times of the year, filling the forest with colour. These include the guayacan, the bototillo, which have brilliant bright yellow flowers. The Fernan Sanchez presents different shades of pink and brown. You can also see birds, reptiles and, with any luck, mammals. The area known as Nuevo Píntag receives most visitors.