Zamora, Ecuador


Zamora, Ecuador, has a population of about 32,000. Zamora is in the southeast of Ecuador, in the mountains, on the side of the Amazon Rain Forest. Zamora is known for its pristine Amazon rainforest and its biodiversity, as well as for ecotourism. There is a lot to explore in the surrounding mountains. There is a trail close to town that crosses along one of the mountains and is supposed to have a great view of the valley and the town, but because of the rain, almost constant for the two days I was here, I didn't hike it because I'm traveling with only one pair of shoes and I don't much care for getting them covered in mud.

The city was founded in 1549. From Zamora started many expeditions into the Amazon. Before the Spanish arrived and conquered the indigenous groups, those groups, mostly the Shuar and Saraguro people, lived in the region for countless years. Each had their own language, customs, and traditions. The Shuar people were known for shrinking heads but were also skilled hunters, gatherers, and agriculturalists. They also held deep spiritual connections with the forest. The Saraguro people are known for their weaving abilities and were an agricultural people. When the Spanish arrived in the area, the Shuar people fought against them very strongly but eventually succumbed to the stronger and more modern Spanish soldiers.

Zamora has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 29° C (84° F), and the nightly average low of 23° C (73° F). The city's elevation is about 900 meters (2952 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 3138 mm (123 inches) of rain. The humidity is typically between 85% - 92%. That's high humidity, combined with the not-quite-high temps, you can get some ugly real-feel temperatures.

So, my impressions: I visited this little town because of several recommendations, and I'm glad I did. Zamora sits in a tight valley enclosed by high, steep mountains with rivers running alongside two sides of the town. The two rivers converge at one end of town. It's all green, forest, and jungle-covered here as this is part of the Amazon Rain Forest region. And it really is beautiful. The weather data, as with all of the towns I've visited during my journey of South America, is not correct for today's world. Unfortunately, the historical data is years old. Looking at the forecast for this month, it appears the high temperatures will hit 30-33° most days of September, much higher than the historical data, and with the high humidity, well, it's hot and muggy and a bit on the unpleasant side. Which is too bad because it's such a beautiful place. I'd settle down right here if it weren't for the current climate and what that will be in the coming years - unbearable. Zamora has a couple of supermarkets and several minimarkets, as well as everything else you could need. I even found a shoe store that has several models of Merrill shoes, and I need to buy a new pair, but unfortunately, they don't have my size (bigger than typical Ecuadorianos).

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people.  And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

So, to reach my goal I will visit those towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

My Top 10 list has these towns on it:

  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Catamayo, Ecuador
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina
  • Roldanillo, Colombia

During my travels in Ecuador, I visited 33 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 38 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 16 towns. In Uruguay, I visited five towns, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay, I have visited 26 cities. That's 126 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.

Next up: Puyo, Ecuador.