Santa Lucía is a community owned cloudforest reserve, located on the edge of the Andean Mountains about 80 km NW of Quito. The reserve protects 730 hectares of predominantly virgin cloudforest at an elevation of 1900m.
Santa Lucía is located in the southern part of the Choco Bioregion in north-western Ecuador, recognised as one of the areas of highest biodiversity in the world. Over 80% of Santa Lucía's cloud forest is still in its primary virgin state. The variety of plants here is estimated at more than 2,000 species, including many which are endemic and endangered. Among the estimated 45 species of mammals in the area can be found; coatimundi, tigrillo (ocelot), puma, and a small population of the endangered spectacled bear.
The area is a paradise for bird-lovers, with over 380 species, including several which are endemic to the area, such as the Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, the Toucan Barbet, the Beautiful Jay, the Long-wattled Umbrella Bird, the Giant Antpitta and the Moustached Antpitta. A wide range of tropical species such as parrots, cotingas, guans, ant birds and colorful tropical tanagers are regularly sighted. Santa Lucía is particularly well known for the variety of hummingbirds, including species like the Violet-tailed Sylph, Booted Racket-tail and Sparkling Violet-ear.
The Santa Lucía ecotourism project was the community's first of many sustainable development projects established with the help of Rainforest Concern. The natural beauty and diversity of Santa Lucía's cloud forest makes ecotourism a logical choice to provide a sustainable source of income for the community. This income enables the community to continue to conserve the cloud forest under their care, while at the same time sharing its diverse treasures with others.
An essential part of this ecotourism project was the purchase of key parcels of rainforest for the creation of a nature reserve. This was funded by Rainforest Concern as the protected land lies within the southern phase of the Choco-Andean Rainforest Corridor.
The Ecolodge provides a peaceful mountain retreat from the hurry and noise of modern life. The lodge can be reached only on foot, via a hike of approximately 2 hours from the nearest village. The approach to Santa Lucía involves a climb of over 500 meters, so visitors should be in reasonably good physical condition. Backpacks and other heavy bags are brought up by muleback, so that visitors can enjoy the views and birding opportunities along the way. Due to its altitude and position, Santa Lucía enjoys a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and the valleys below, including the nearby villages of Marianitas and Nanegal.
You can visit the Santa Lucia website for further information about this project.