Visiting the Reserve

photographing trailsideLos Cedros Biological Reserve welcomes short term visitors to a remote and adventurous piece of paradise. A trip to the reserve is an extraordinary opportunity to see the nature of a cloud forest in a direct, unfiltered way. It’s about as off the beaten track as you can get and yet it can be reached from Quito in only one day.

Los Cedros has local guides who can accompany visitors on the trails, should you require them. For those who wish to seek out nature on their own terms and at their own pace, Los Cedros is a wonderful destination. The staff and management will be pleased to accommodate you and assist you in making the most of your visit.

Conservation depends on awareness, and every new visitor builds that awareness. Spread the word and recommend Los Cedros to a friend!

Nature Viewing

mono in branchesSpider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, hummingbirds, toucan barbetts, macaws, umbrella birds, mot-mots, quetzals, Andean cock-of-the-rocks, kinkajous, spectacled bears, deer, jaguar, puma, pepsis wasps, 100s (1000s?) of species of butterfly and moth, rhino beetles, tarantulas, lizards, amphibians, snakes of every colour, dipertocarp, epiphytes, glorious fungi, trees, trees, trees… any effort to list even the highlights of the biotic diversity falls short. One of the best parts of nature viewing here is how often you’ll see things that nobody told you about anyway, possibly because nobody has seen them before.

Birding is as simple as looking up, and quiet and patient hiking on the trails will routinely reward with exotic and unexpected finds. Mammals are typically more cryptic, but the morning call of the howlers will leave you with no doubt that they are out there, and monkeys and even spectacled bears are sometimes encountered. Vegetative diversity is phenomenal. Above a threshold of altitude the reserve is home to time-travelling dipterocarpous forest. Particularly in the wet season (January to March) there are an as-yet-identified 190 species of orchid flowering. By some measures the reserve is less biodiverse than raw Amazonian rainforest, but it is also less aggressively uncomfortable than the rainforest, and the angled canopy of the mountainous cloud forest yields better available light and powerful views into the canopy and sub-canopy layers where so much of the action is in tropical forest.

More details available in the flora and fauna section.

Hiking

trailheadGetting out on the trails is always a good idea. Nearby highlights include the Cascada, a beautiful 10 meter waterfall and swimming hole (bring your rubber boots for the many river crossings!), and the Observatorio, which sits at 1710m and gives a view over the first section of the reserve on a clear day. Currently a trail is being developed to the highest peak in the area at 2710m.

“A trail from Jose’s follows the crest of a ridge. Instead of craning my neck straight up, I can look out onto the platform of mosses and epiphytes suspended in the saddles of great trees. I’m still amazed at the lack of bothersome bugs. I keep expecting to be swatting at mosquitoes or cussing black flies or find my back covered by army ants. No insect pests, no snakes drooping from trees.”
– from Gringos in the Mist, A Naturalist Journey Through Ecuador, Greg Gordon

Photography

leafhopperLos Cedros is high enough to be frequently enclosed within the clouds, giving it a special sense of mystery and depth, and creating exceptional photographic possibilities. Light pierces the hillside canopy at interesting angles, and wherever the canopy is open the views are spectacular. Los Cedros’ endless roll-call of birds, flowers, insects, trees and other exotic plants provide a wealth of subjects. Any point-and-shoot cameraperson will find plenty to point and shoot at, and serious photographers should consider bringing a lot of memory cards.

Relaxing in the Reserve

No special effort is needed to enjoy life at Los Cedros. The reserve comes naturally equipped with phenomenal views in practically every direction, mountain breezes, incredible hammock spots, and all the lemon-grass tea you can drink. Bring a book. Thanks to the tide of clouds that roll up and down through the mountains, the panoramas are ever-changing in depth and character. Basic birding can be accomplished from any of the hammocks hung around the main or guest houses. Sitting around and chatting are also encouraged.

Testimonials

Many visitors arrive at Los Cedros thanks to the encouragement of friends who have come before. For those without a personal reference, check out the Testimonials Page to read some other peoples’ reflections.

Accommodation

Spacious, open rooms for visitors and researchers include single beds, a double and dormitory rooms with bedding. Los Cedros boasts a gas-powered hot water shower.

roomupper hallwaydouble

Fees  from January 1, 2015

international visitors: $65 a night
Ecuadorean visitors: $35 la noche
Private Lodge: 65$ a night pp
(min. 2 persons, max 4

cascada blissAll prices are in US dollars. Fees include all accommodation, bedding and food. Vegetarian cooking is available. Food is plentiful and good.

Mule transport is provided for bringing you and your gear up the mountain to the reserve at no additional charge. Some visitors prefer to hike the journey themselves for the extra challenge and experience.

Los Cedros is a non-profit reserve. All fees go to maintenance, staff wages, and the development of projects which are part of the reserve’s goals of conservation and education.