Ecuador Cloud Forest Ecotourism

Maquipucuna is the closet pristine rainforest to Quito. Perfect for a day trip, although we assure you will want to stay longer.

Only 45 minutes away from Quito, the first stop at the Maquipucuna Reserve welcomes you with a crazy profusion of birds and orchids. The biodiversity at Maquipucuna rivals that of the Amazon. The altitudinal range of Maquipucuna stretching from the 900 meters to almost 2700 meters above sea level further enhances the possibility of encountering an unimaginable diversity of wildlife.

The Maquipucuna lodge, which enjoys warm weather year round, sits only 2 hours away from Quito at 1300 meters above sea level. It is easily accessible by car, although we also offer transportation for our visitors.

Maquipucuna harbors over 4% of the world bird diversity, including spectacular birds such as the Toucan Barbet, Cock -of-the Rock, Plate-billed mountain toucan, Lanceolated Monklet, Esmeraldas antbird, Read headed barbet, Golden headed quetzal.

Maquipucuna is also the only Reserve where, during the fruiting season of a small avocado type plant, one can see Spectacled Bears! Not only is our wildlife amazing. There are its historical roots. Maquipucuna is part of the Cachillacta (salt town in Quichua) region and it addition to the salt sources, you can find many of the Yumbo paths that our ancestors used to trade salt and cotton among other products. Taking a plunge in our waterfalls and swimming holes is exhilarating. Our visitors can also experience the only shade-grown coffee tour in Ecuador.

Maquipucuna is the place where you can experience an authentic ecotourism experience. Our guides and all our staff, but the administrator, are people from the local communities that have received training to offer world class service. For us, ecotourism, conservation and sustainable development are not just buzz words; they are a way of life.

We have pioneered the conservation of cloud forests of the Chocó Andean corridor. In fact, we coined the term Chocó Andean bioregion and our foundation leads the establishment of the Chocó Andean Corridor. We are directly helping protect 158,000 acres of forest, from the Andes to the Sea, and in the process helping thousands of people make a living out of conservation. Ours is the only conservation and sustainable development effort that in addition to our lodge, has helped create two of the most successful community-run ecolodges in Ecuador.

Spectacled Bear Season

The Spectacled bear (Tremarctos Ornatus), the only Bear species of South America is endangered, primarily due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, but also hunting. Spectacled bears migrate continuously during the year in search for food; they can move large distances, from “paramo” vegetation (highlands), to subtropical forests (such as Maquipucuna's forests).  There are only a few thousand individuals in the wild, and in Ecuador scientists still do not know how many individuals are left.  In fact scientists that study the bear, can spend years without seen bears; and only tracking bears from their feces or traces left behind.  At Maquipucuna we have the privilege of hosting a large bear population. From 2009 to date, close to 60 bears have been sighted at the Reserve and surrounding areas. Spectacled bear season at Maquipucuna takes place every year and can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. During bear season, most visitors have the opportunity to see at least one bear in the wild only minutes away from the lodge.  Bears like this small native avocado like fruit, “aguacatillo”, which is very abundant in the regenerating areas of the Reserve.  Time of fruiting of this plant varies from year to year depending on rainfall pattern changes.  Please keep up with our news on Facebook and Twitter to know when the Spectacled bear season starts.

Bird Watching

Maquipucuna is truly a birdwatcher’s paradise. With 376 identified species and counting, it’s no wonder that Birdlife International and the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador have designated Maquipucuna as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in its own right. The area used to the part of the original Mindo IBA when originally declared back in the 90’s.

All of these birds, including at-risk species such as the Toucan Barbet, the Wattled Guan, and Cock-of-the-Rock can be seen with relatively minor effort walking short distances from the lodge.

But why are these unique, magnificent birds so attracted to Maquipucuna? The reserve is located in the Chocó-Andean region of Ecuador, a region beloved by locals and visitors for its unparalleled biodiversity, including more than 1960 species of plants. This rich area, however, faces the threat of habitat destruction and, as a result, the Chocó-Andean corridor has been designated by nearly all major international conservation organizations as a conservation hotspot.

Maquipucuna has been at the forefront of this conservation movement since it was founded in 1988. The region has changed tremendously during the past 18 years, converting the sparse, nearly lifeless site of a former hacienda, an old farming plantation, to a region of lush secondary forest that attracts birds such as the Bay Wren, the scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant, and the Slate-throated Whitestart.

The rainforest of Maquipucuna has remained undisturbed for nearly 30 years. When the reserve reaches its 50-year anniversary, the forest will have regained its original, abundant atmosphere that was home to so many rare and beautiful birds. Maquipucuna is much more than a bird watcher’s paradise just by visiting the reserve; you can help restore Ecuador’s most magnificent bird species back to their native land.

Cloud Forest Ecotourism Activities

Experience Maquipucuna Trails

With Maquipucuna you will experience authentic ecotourism at the Maquipucuna Reserve and the rest of Ecuador, if you chose us to help you organize your vacation in Ecuador. Also, we are specialists in customizing tours “behind the scenes” to the most prominent sustainable development projects in Ecuador.

Besides being the most accessible biodiversity hotspot from Quito, Maquipucuna Reserve offers one of the most extensive hiking trail systems in any protected area in Ecuador, unsurpassed birding, and a great variety of activities. Our guides are natives from the high biodiversity rural areas that we are protecting and have been extensively trained. Hence, in addition to their local knowledge about uses of their native flora and their keen eye to spot even the hardest to see wildlife, they have learnt know how to convey their knowledge and passion professionally.