La Hesperia is a nature reserve located in the western range of the Andes at an altitude of 1100 – 2040 meters above sea level. The reserve resides in the province of Pichincha and is only about 90 kilometers from Quito. With an area of 814 hectares, it is located in the centre of the Rio Toachi-Chiriboga IBA (Important Bird Area, declared by Bird Life International and Conservation International) and is part of two important bioregions: The Tropical Andes and the Chocó-Darien – Western Ecuador, considered within the top five biodiversity hotspots on earth.
Three types of forest are encompassed in La Hesperia: pre-montane evergreen, low montane, and high montane (true cloud forest). The vegetation is typical of the cloud forest, which possesses a wide diversity of epiphyte plants. Within the boundaries of the reserve there are 292 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and 63 genera of butterflies (several lists available). Some of the common animals one may come across at the reserve include the White-fronted capuchin monkey, Tayra, Agouti, Paca, Peccary, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Wattled Guan, Pale-mandibled Araçari, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and Lineated Woodpecker. There are also records of some of the Chocó endemic birds such as the Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, Violet-tailed Sylph, Toucan barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Chocó Toucan, and Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager.
What We Do
To protect the unique variety of animal and plant species found in the forest, environmental conservation is absolutely essential and thus is a leading priority at La Hesperia. Work at the reserve primarily entails preserving existing forest and carrying out sustainable and economically viable activities such as organic agriculture and eco-construction to promote self-sufficiency. La Hesperia is also striving to become a model of integrated farming where agricultural practices complement our primary objective of preserving the natural forest. Combining conservation and agriculture will enable us to sustain the reserve and promote economic activities that are environmentally friendly and beneficial for the local inhabitants. La Hesperia is also open to receive volunteers, students, researchers, birdwatchers, and nature enthusiasts. Such visitors will have the opportunity to discover how they can follow a conservation-conscious manner of living and learn about the beauty and importance of the cloud forest ecosystem by experiencing it first-hand.