Hillary Resort & Spa is located in the province of El Oro, bordering Azuay and embodies the diversity of Ecuador. The Province of El Oro, literally the golden province, is famed for its history of gold mining. More recently, however, its chief export is another golden delicacy, the banana and El Oro is Ecuador’s major exporter of this delicious commodity. The province capital is Machala, renowned for its beauty, architecture, tropical climate and lovely people. El Oro is home to Jambelí Island and Ecuador’s southernmost beach that remains untouched and almost unknown to the beach-going crowds. Here fishermen still practice ancient skills while the Petrified Forest of the Puyango River stands still in time. The area is home to 130 different bird species and multitudes of butterflies. The island of Santa Clara, about an hour’s boat-ride away, hosts species native to the Galapagos, like blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and dolphins and in July and August gives one of the best views of humpback whales migrating to warmer waters. If all of this sounds amazing, it is. You can pan for gold, see relics of history, you can soak in the sun and enjoy the freshest fish cooked to perfection, or just wander through the lush greenery photographing birds and butterflies as they float effortlessly from flower to tree and into the immense blue sky. Hillary Nature Resort & Spa (in the canton of Arenillas) is a convenient 3.5 hour drive from Cuenca.

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