Privately owned 130 hectares of recovering forest in the new protected important bird area (IBA) Mashpi-Pachijal. The specific location of this forest within this IBA makes it even more special since this area is the last foothill-forest that directly connects to the lower subtropical western forest of Ecuador. Its unique location makes it particularly attractive for birders looking for the highest biodiversity regions with choco endemic birds.
This reserve is located next to the fancy Mashpi Loge and it is a continuation toward the higher altitude forest. The altitude rage is 1700 to 750 masl, it begins at the higher altitude pass and continues to the Mashpi Lodge entrance gate. The reserve extends downward to the east of the road toward a river where the forest is best conserved. There are some trails that can be visited but the Mashpi Lodge entrance road is the best source for easy birding.
The Basantes familiy have been farming this area for 20 years and now managed by their inheritors: Sergio Basantes and his wife Doris. They became very interested in conservation and birds from all of the frequent birding visitors. Also this area was recently declared a newly protected forest of Mashpi-Guaycuaycu-Sahuangal and logging is now prohibited. The local people in this area have received education in conservation and also support from the local governments and by Aves y Conservacion which is the operating branch of Bird Life in Ecuador.
Sergio and his wife Doris are very excited about this new venture. They have been working for the last two years to change their farming habits to include conservation ideas to improve and protect the habitat. As part of this process they have registered their property to become a official reserve in the hope that an improved forest will bring more birders to their home. Their plan is to improve the sustainability of their reserve and to provide a complete ecological birding experience which will include home grown food, lodging, trails, feeders, and guiding.
Currently they have set up a small but nice hummingbird garden with a few well visited feeders that attract some of the sought choco endemic humingbirds like the Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown Inca, Purplel-bibbed Whitetip, and White-wiskered Hermit. The hummingbird garden also have a shelter where you can comfortably look at hummingbirds even if it is raining :)
Some of the local tanagers are also being attracted to feeders, so you will be able to see and photograph more of the choco endemics like Glistening-green Tanager and the Black-chinned Mountain Tanager. They also have other colorful tanagers that visit the feeders like the Golden-naped Tanager, Golden Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, and others.
If you visit the reserve in the August to September months you may be able to easily find another Choco specialty, the Black Solitare. During these months there is a special tree (motilon - Hyeronina alchornoides) near the fruit feeders where 12 Black Solitare come regularly to feast on the ripe fruit.
If you are really lucky or patient then there is yet another choco specialty that can only be seen at the road entrance to Amagusa Reserve. The Indigo Flowerpiercer is a must see bird and if you cannot find it just ask Doris to show you. She has a special touch and call that is sure to bring this gem out.
Last but not least there are other Choco endemics that can be seen in the reserve or along the road: Rose-faced Parrot, Orange-fronted Barbet,Toucan Barbet, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Mossbacked Tanager, Choco Vireo, Long-wattled Umbrellabird. If you are a serious birder you may want to consider two days birding trip to cover the higher altitud forest just past Pacto Alto, the entire Amagusa road, the Amagusa Reserve, and then continuig to the lower forest of Pachijal, Mashpi, and ending with another stay at another conservation project in Mangaloma at 700 masl.
Many thanks to our sponsor the Pululahua Hostal for helping us build and manage this web site so we can reach more people interested in saving the forest through our eco-tourism program.
Check out these great partners for affordable birding programs that support the Ecuadorian people and businesses through the Bird Watching for Conservation Association.
Laguna Paikawe - A tiniy Amazonian lake with big birds that are loved by Pedro.
23 de Junio.- Stay at 23 de Junio for fantastic views of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird and help conservation.
Pacto Sumaco.- Best birding option to visit the Sumaco Biosphere National Park and help the local community of Pacto Sumaco.
Isla Corazon - Community owned birdwatching and mangrove tours. A fantastic place to see mangrove and estuary birds and also help the community of Puerto Portovelo.
Pululahua Hostal - Ecuador Birding Tours that conserve the forest and money.
Refugio Paz de las Aves - A successful birds for conservation project and get close to the anpittas with Angel.
Gareno Lodge - Visit the Rufous Potoo up close and help the conservation of the Huaorani forest.
Cueva de los Tayos.- See and photograph the Oilbirds close to Mindo.