Six places you can visit in the Andean Choco
Just 45 minutes north-west of the city of Quito, there is a little-known but unique natural paradise: the Andean Choco, an area that was recently declared the seventh Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
There are so many different types of activities you can do in this area, such as: community tourism, bird tourism, ecotourism and adventure tourism. When you visit the north-west, these are some of the best places to know and everything you can do in them:
- Calacalí: Here you can do things like hiking and bird watching; visit the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, an extinct volcano with no activity that erupted
2400 years, but with an inhabited caldera. Here you can see orchids, bromeliads, ferns and birds like hummingbirds. There is also a viewpoint with a privileged view, as well as its three elevations: the Pondoña, the Chivo and the Sugar Loaf.
- Yunguilla: Part of the Calacalí parish, there you can visit the Yunguilla Conservation and Sustainable Use Area, which is located in one of the places with the highest biodiversity in the world. This area is known as part of the Spectacled Bear Ecological Corridor. One of the biggest attractions of the area is community tourism, where you can learn how they make artisanal products, such as jams with local fruit, cheeses, yogurt and recycled paper crafts; also, how they manage their natural resources through reforestation, cultivation and management of orchids for the market, etc.
- San Miguel de Nono: Here you can find the Reserva Verdecocha, where you can go hiking and horseback riding, and observe the endemic flora and fauna of the place. You can also visit the Verdecocha waterfall, where fishing is practiced in a lagoon within the same reserve. Another reserve, Yanacocha, houses a diversity of birds, including more than 11 species of hummingbirds, of which the black-breasted sheepskin, the emblematic bird of Quito, stands out.
- Pahuma Orchid Reserve: it is located in the middle of the cloud forest, and is known for its rich flora. It is located at kilometer 43 via Calacalí – La Independencia. Here, there are more than 200 species of orchids, trails to travel and appreciate species such as the cock of the rock, carpenters, toucans and more. The reserve provides the perfect habitat for the spectacled bear.
- Maquipucuna Protected Forest: Located in the parish of Nanegal, it is home to 1250 species of plants and a great variety of orchids and bromeliads. This is also the habitat of the spectacled bear, as well as an ideal place to observe birds and nocturnal animals. Here, you can swim in the river or waterfalls, and learn about ecological research and how to process high altitude coffee.
- Nanegal: Here you can visit the Santa Lucia Reserve, where you can take walks through trails, go camping in the forest and fishing; watch birds, animals and landscapes, visit waterfalls and the Rio Grande, grow vegetables in organic orchards and so much more. Another place you can visit in Nanegal is Cascada la Piragua, which has a path and a viewpoint. There are community guides that take you through the area.
Very close to its urban area, Quito maintains these spaces of high life, home of fascinating birds, orchids and mammals, which interact with preserved archaeological remains. These treasures must be discovered and explored by nationals and foreigners, since they are a clear representation of the biodiversity and abundance of Ecuador.