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“Most Unique Cloud Forest in Ecuador”

Maquipucuna Reserve
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Mindo Cloud Forest Day Trip from Quito
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Cloud Forest Day Trip with Chocolate Tasting from Quito
Ranked #39 of 268 things to do in Quito
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The most unique cloud forest in the Andes, Maquipucuna offers easy to moderate trails to access forests for easy sightings of the elusive and endangered Spectacled Bear. Spectacled bear season in 2017 is expected around November or December. Daily sightings of up to 10 different bears; that is more Spectacled Bears that mosts bear scientists have seen in their entire careers. Besides being the official home of the Spectacled bear and thousand other wildlife species, Maquipucuna is a birdwatchers paradise. Up to 184 birds have been spotted in a single day. The Reserve has an internationally awarded Maquipucuna Ecolodge. The nearly 15,000 acres Maquipucuna Reserve, located only 2 hours away from Quito, is also home to around 400 species of birds, 45 species of mammals, 250 species of butterflies and over 2000 species of plants. Maquipucuna is so biodiverse and well protected that it harbors about 10% of Ecuador's plant diversity and 4% of all the bird species known for the entire planet! Maquipucuna has the category of Protected Forest and has been declared as Important Bird Area (IBA).
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities, Lockers / storage, Activities for older children
Reviewed 27 August 2010

Quick Quiz: Where in Ecuador can you find 25 percent of that country's bird diversity (10 percent of the world's threatened birds) and eight of every 1,000 plants ever registered in the world? Answer: Maquipucuna cloud forest, one of the planet's biologically richest and most threatened ecosystems, which scientists have termed the "Crown Jewel of the Andes". Because of Maquipucuna and its surrounding forests, the Metropolitan District of Quito is known as "The World Capital of Biodiversity".

Fundación Maquipucuna <http://www.maqui.org/> is the leading non-profit organization in the astonishingly biodiverse Chocó-Andes conservation Corridor in North West Ecuador. The international award winning Maquipucuna Eco-lodge welcomes visitors to experience comfort as well as natural beauty in its year-round warm climate. Located only two hours from Quito, it's easily accessible by car or transportation provided by Maquipucuna.

From the Lodge, there are eight hiking trails covering 40 km (25 miles), designed for skills of all levels. Visitors can to go back in time as they retrace historic routes on Yumbo paths that indigenous ancestors used to trade salt and cotton. (Maquipucuna is part of the Cachillacta {Land of Salt in Quichua} region.) It's popular to swim or take a plunge under a spectacular water fall, ending the day with a delicious meal at the Lodge, prepared with native food grown in Maquipucuna's organic farm. During the fruiting season of small wild avocadoes, Maquipucuna is the only cloudforest Reserve where Spectacled bears can be seen for two straight months.

Visitors can also take the only shade-grown coffee tour in Ecuador and in neighboring communities, there's an interesting orchid tour. Many other activities, ranging from rafting, mountain biking to horseback riding are available as well as the opportunity to just “relax and unwind”.

The Chocó-Andes Corridor is a sweeping undertaking, sponsored by Fundación Maquipucuna and the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia since 1992 to help preserve the natural value and unique heritage of the region's ecosystems, while tackling some of the underlying social factors that threaten their biodiversity.

The Corridor embraces two regions of global biodiversity significance, the lowland Chocó and the richest mountainous tropical Andean forests. The spatial scale of the project is large, approximately 3-million hectares (nearly 7,500,00 acres) reaching from sea level mangroves through rainforest to paramo grasslands in the crest of the western Andes Mountains.

In the late 1990s, the University of Georgia’s School of Ecology <http://www.ecology.uga.edu/> and the Maquipucuna Foundation began a project to preserve the area's biodiversity while improving the livelihoods of residents. Goals included reforestation and creation of forest corridors to improve habitat, especially for migratory birds, and working with coffee farmers to re-establish shade trees and convert to organic production. Over 50,000 coffee trees have been planted since 2000, and over two dozen farms have received organic certification. Other sustainable cottage industries help diversify local income and prevent habitat destruction: paper making, hand-crafted jewelry, jam production, and shade-grown cacao. The project now includes over 160 coffee farmers and 400-plus cacao growers.

Maquipucuna fills a niche in the areas between the protected areas that belong to communities but is unfilled by the large government protected areas. The critical issue is that the biodiversity of the region is not well represented/protected in the large protected areas. More than 20 percent of the species are local endemics that have restricted ranges to some very small places. That means that there is likelihood that many hundreds of species could only be protected if land is set aside for conservation outside of protected areas.

In the mountains of the Chocó Andes Corridor, Maquipucuna is assisting farmers to implement sustainable shade coffee production to restore pastures into forests to create corridors between protected areas. The Foundation helps farmers market their gourmet quality coffee through an alliance with a coffee roasting and marketing operation, 1,000 Faces, in Athens, Ga <http://www.1000facescoffee.com/>.

In the lowlands of the Chocó Andes corridor, Maquipucuna is collaborating with the Comuna Playa de Oro, an Afro Ecuadorian community which has set aside nearly 10,000 hectares (approximately 25,000 acres) of community forests for conservation.

Maquipucuna is working with Playa de Oro to establish shade-grown, bird-friendly, fine aroma cacao as well as promote their ecolodge to increase the community’s sustainable income and to reduce their need to cut the forest. They offer basic accommodations and authentic local meals in their lodge where it is possible to encounter some of the rare endemic Chocó birds <http://tinyurl.com/33hyenf>.

18  Thank GeorgiaGypsyMacon_GA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 March 2009

We stayed at Maquipucuna during our 4½ weeks travel in Ecuador – and what a place!!! Really off the beaten track – in thick forest next to a river, it’s a bird-watcher’s paradise where hummingbirds fly around your head. We loved the lodge, the people we met there (staff, guides and naturalists) and the walking we did. We saw SO MUCH!

7  Thank clival
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Reviewed 17 May 2017
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Reviewed 17 February 2017
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Reviewed 1 February 2017
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