The Projects
Support Golondrinas


  Ecotourism: the 4-day Trek

  Ecotourism: the 2-day Visit

  Scientific Research

  Volunteer Opportunities

Ecotourism:  The 4-day Golondrinas Cloudforest Trek

The Golondrinas Cloudforest Trek begins in the Andean Highlands, west of El Angel (4200 m) and finishes in the village of Guallupe (1000 m). Guallupe is conveniently located on the Ibarra - San Lorenzo road, for travelers who want to take-off to the tropical coast of Esmeraldas (five hours ride). Horses carry your luggage; you carry your daypack. As you travel, hot Ecuadorian meals are prepared for you at each major stop by local people or by your guide.  At night you will stay in local constructed cabins.
 During your time in the reserve the campesinos and managers of this project hope to take you on a unique journey across their land and into their lives. You will be led through contrasting ecosystems ranging from high altitude páramo  (4200m-3800m) and temperate cloudforest (1500m - 3800m) to subtropical rainforest (900m-1500m). You will also have the opportunity to view local farms and our current projects in the reserve along the way.

Frailejones in the El Angel paramoItinerary: 4 days/4 nights

Day 1: Our journey begins after a hearty 7:30 breakfast in El Angel when we pile into a pick-up truck to head to the páramo. Upon reaching our destination, we set off on foot, spending several hours crossing the paramo, home of Frailejones and the majestic Andean condor. In the afternoon, we begin our decent into the cloudforest to reach the village of Morán (2900m).  Accommodation is in a rustic cabin. (Travel time: approximately 6 hours).

Day 2: Today our transport is on horseback: we leave the village at 8:00 and follow the Morán river until reaching the waterfall, El Pailón where we will have a picnic lunch. From here we continue on foot, descending into a warmer valley characterized by subtropical vegetation.
By late-afternoon, we reach El Corazón (2200m), the location of tonight's accommodations. From here we have a splendid view of the Cerro Golondrinas peak. (Travel time: approximately 3 hours on horseback and 4 hours walking.)


Day 3: We spend the day relaxing in El Corazón, swinging in hammocks, and taking walks around  the area with a local guide. This is also a great day for birdwatching: Plate-billed mountain toucans, Toucan barbets and the brown Inca hummingbird  are common sites. From El Corazon, we can visit a forest restoration project being conducted by the foundation.

Day 4: Early in the morning we leave El Corazón and begin the 4-hour trek to Las Juntas, where a pick-up truck awaits us. We drive to Guallupe (1000m), passing through subtropical vegetation   and farms growing pineapple, bananas, yuca and citrus trees. Tonight we stay in the Tolondro Hostal in Guallupe. From here we offer the options to:  board the bus (seldom the train) to San Lorenzo; return to Quito; travel to the Otavalo markets; or Ibarra.

Additional Information:

Please bring: sleeping bag, rubber boots, light raingear, sandals, warm clothing, flashlight, canteen, knife, hat, insect repellent, a daypack, camera and binoculars.                                     Price: $210 USD/person for individuals; $185 USD /person                                          in a group of 5 to 8 people. Full Payment must be received one week prior to departure. Includes: All transport (pick-up trucks, horses), two guides, village fee, all meals (starts with breakfast in El Angel and finishes with breakfast in Guallupe, the morning after the fourth day).


Ecotourism:  The 2-day Golondrinas Visit to the Reserve
This is a new alternative of a 2-day trip for those people who wish to visit and get to know the area:


2-Day-Santa Rosa
Day 1-Guallupe-
Visit the village of Guallupe.
After breakfast, we visit the experimental farms where agroforestry and permaculture techniques are being applied. Afterwards, we head to the Cerro Golondrinas Reserve in a local truck up to the village of Las Juntas. From here we hike for about 1 hr. 30 min. to the cabin Santa Rosa where we spend one night. Another option is to go to the cabin on horseback. (The destination may be changed to the cabin El Corazón, about 3 hrs. walk from the village of Las Juntas, while the cabin Santa Rosa is under construction.
Please contact us for further details.)

Day 2-Reserve-Guallupe We take a trip through the area looking at the flora and fauna as well as the work that Fundación Golondrinas is carrying out in the recuperation of
cloud forest and we observe the forest nursery of native species. For the most part, this is primary forest very rich in biodiversity and highly worth visiting.
In the afternoon, we return to the village of Guallupe where we lodge and enjoy a succulent dinner.Cost of the Tour: $50 USD/person/day.For this option, we recommend you make reservations in advance, especially for groups.

A portion of the profits from this trek go directly to furthering the aims of the Conservation Project, thus this trip offers participants the opportunity to experience unique Andean ecosystems and make new friendships while contributing to forest conservation and community self-determination for further information contact:
Permacultura Travel Agent (our representative for tourism issues) or
Eliza E. Manteca
c/o Calle Isabel La Catolica N24-679 (1559)
Quito, Ecuador
e-mail : manteca@uio.satnet net


Scientific Research

The Golondrinas Cloudforest is a unique area, one of the most biologically diverse - more than 20% of the species are endemic - and one of the most endangered, with endless opportunities for scientific research. The region encompasses 3 different ecosystems: the páramo (3,800-4,200 m.), montane forest (1,500-3,800 m.), and premontane forest (less than 1,500 m.). In this part of the Chocó Bioregion, the extraordinary biological diversity is the result of high levels of precipitation. Researchers in different disciplines have conducted inventories on the Golondrinas Cloudforest flora and fauna:

Maike Potthast, "Useful Tree Species"
Keith Willmott, "Butterflies" krwi@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu
Hermann Antonn, "Bushes and Trees"
Hans Salomonson, "Trees with economic value".
Brad Boyle, "Tree inventory".
Craig C. Downer, "Andean Mountain Tapir".
David Lydall, "Fungus of leaf cutter ants".
Niels Krabbe,"Birds of Golondrinas".


G.F. welcomes scientists interested in contributing their own insights into this diverse area. Research possibilities include:

i) Aspects of forest conservation (germination, growth conditions, soil texture, growth of secondary forest, watershed management, etc.) and the commercial possibilities of existing tree species as well as the introduction of new species in deforested areas.

ii) Sustainable socio-economic development, both in the forest and in the deforested valley of the Mira-river: alternative approaches to the use of forest resources, including permaculture, agroforestry, reforestation, tree nurseries, fruit orchards, bee keeping and eco-tourism.

iii) General management, in conjunction with local residents, of the reserve to promote the conservation of genetic forest resources (e.g.; elaborating a Management Plan).

The Golondrinas Foundation needs scientists who are qualified for this type of work. If you think you can make a valuable contribution, send us your C.V., a brief outline of the reasons for wanting to research in the area, as well as a brief outline of the specific project you would like to do, with 3 months notice. Research proposals must be approved by the Golondrinas Foundation. For those intending to collect plant or animal specimens, both a collecting permit and export permit are required. For more information about conducting research please contact us at manteca@uio.satnet.net. A list of birds, trees, butterflies and mammals are also available on request.

Costs: $15/per day. Includes full room and board in the villages of Guallupe, Moran and in El Corazon (see also accommodations). Arrangements can be made to hire pack horses (5 US$/day) and the services of guides (7 US$/day).


Volunteer Opportunities

The Cerro Golondrinas Cloudforest Project in north-west Ecuador, on the western slopes of the Andes, aims to conserve 25,000 hectares of highland cloudforest and introduce sustainable agroforestry techniques within the next years. Many different skills are needed in order to fulfill the objectives of the project. Some are related to management of the forest and scientific research, others deal with education and administration. Additionally, the project is in constant need of manual labor.

Field Sites: The Cerro Golondrinas Cloudforest Conservation Project has three field sites (see map)


Guallupe Village


Mira valley (1000 m) surrounded by agricultural land, 1.5 hours from  the city of Ibarra. Subtropical.


House owned by the foundation in village center; running water, toilet, shower, electricity, telephone.


Volunteers at workOur primary location, work here involves agroforestry research, re-introduction of local species, tree nursery, light construction. In the field: tree planting, weeding, creating fire breaks, environmental education, erosion prevention and land restoration. Enthusiastic individual also needed to stay six months to act as a volunteer coordinator.


Santa Rosa/El Corazon (in the Golondrinas Reserve)


Golondrinas valley (1800 m); isolated site in the middle of the forest. Subtropical. The ride from Guallupe to the trailhead in Las Juntas takes 1.5 hours. From the trailhead it's another 1 hour walk to Santa Rosa, and about 3 hours to El Corazon. Horses for transporting luggage can be arranged with local farmers.


Primitive housing available.


The further development of an existing tree nursery. Cutting climber weeds in plots of second growth forest and measuring the evolution of the recovery of these plots.  Pruning trees and cleaning exiting trails. For couples, possibility of six month stay to care for the site.


Village of Moran


Moran Valley at 2900m, temperate climate, isolated village, disturbed forest. A cabin is available with running water and cooking facilities. The ride from El Angel to the western cordillera takes 1.5 hours. From there, expect a 2-hour walk down to the village. Arrangements can be made with the Castro or Quintanchala families.


Lodging in the village guest house or in the homes of individual families.


Volunteers can assist with family or community jobs that benefit the environmental sustainability of Moran.


A stay of  one month minimum, some experience in horticulture or permaculture, advanced Spanish. Contribution $240/month. In exchange, we provide food and housing. The rest helps to support the foundation which as a non-profit organization depends almost entirely on contributions from its volunteers. We can make special financial arrangements for people who wish to stay longer than 3 months. Minimum age requirements for participation is 17 years old. The project accepts volunteers year round, however three months notice is required before arrival. Travel, visas and health-insurance must be arranged independently and are the responsibility of the individual. Although we try to assign volunteers with researchers when requested, this isn't always possible. Additionally, most of the work needed consists of planting and cultivating trees. Expect to use a machete and shovel a good part of your day! The work is laborious, the living conditions primitive, so be prepared to be challenged physically and mentally. If you are interested in only obtaining a snapshot of our grassroots work you should consider joining our 4-day trek as an introduction to the project area. The trek crosses three ecosystems from 4,000m altitude to 1,000m.

Health Precautions:

Malaria isn't a problem in the area, however all other innoculations normally recommended for Ecuador should be obtained. Items needed for a comfortable stay in the field: rubber boots, mosquito net, sleeping bag, light raingear, sandals, flashlight, canteen, knife, hat, repellent, working gloves, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, personal first aid kit.



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