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You are here:2.2.2 The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

2.2.2 The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

The Pululahua Geobotanical reserve contains 3383 hectare, protected by the State.  It includes the crater of the inactive Pululahua Volcano.  The center of the crater is flat and quite developed with grasslands and cultivated landscape.   The steep slopes of the rim are forested and present plenty of opportunities to look for birds along roads and trails. The reserve lies at elevations between 1600 and 3350 m.  Its climate is influenced by both the drier rain-shadow valleys and the misty western slopes. 

 

Habitats.

Humid Montane Scrub, Semi-humid Montane Scrub and middle and upper Montane Forest

 

Logistics.

The Pululahua Geo-botanical reserve access is along the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway.   You can combine a visit to Pululahua with any of the upper sites along the highway or the “La Mitad del Mundo” area.  The buses running along the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway will only drop you at the entrance along the highway.  There is no public transportation to this site at the time of writing. There is, however, public transportation to the more touristy spot “El Mirador del Pululahua”, a site which overlooks the extinct volcano. You will have to hire pickup truck either from San Antonio de Pichincha or Calacali. The road is rough and a high clearance vehicle will be needed.  A four wheel drive vehicle is not essential but suggested. The sites recommended for Leimebamba Antpitta are actually outside the Reserve itself.  Most of the important birding can easily be done just along the various roads inside and out of the reserve.

 

Birding.

The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

(Click here to download Map. Pululahua English).

The entrance road to this birding site in Pululahua is located 20.5 km from Quito, from the start at Avenue Dr Manuel Cordova Galarza.  To reach this side road follow the birding instructions for the La Mitad del Mundo area.   Drive away from the highway down into the Pululahua crater. Once leaving the highway reset your odometer to 0.0 km.   The flat area along the entrance to the Pululahua reserve in the cultivated and scrubby habitat is a good place to look for the Band-tailed Sierra-Finch.   At 1.6 km from the highway you will reach to a gate with a park ranger booth.  You may be asked if you want to visit the Pululahua reserve.   Unless you want to do this you should remember that the sites for the Leimebamba Antpitta are outside the preserve.  If you want to walk the trails inside the reserve you might want to do it after looking for the reserves’ target species.   Tell the ranger you are heading to “Niebli”.   From this spot the road steeply descends throughout the forest preserve.   Down the road just 300 meters or 1.9 km from the highway, you will reach a gate on the start of the Moraspungo trail.  Here is a place to park. If you are planning to stop and bird this trail remember to pay your entrance fee of $5 per person. This trail is good for many upper montane birds including Rufous Antpitta.  The road continues downhill and the forest just along the road is a good place to look for the Andean Guan.  At 11.1 km from the highway, you will reach the bottom of the crater and 300 meters further, or 11.4 km from the highway, there is fork.  Here you should take the road going down to the left.  The right hand fork will allow you to visit the volcanic landscape at the bottom of the caldera.   Shortly after this fork heading down hill at 11.7 km from the highway, you will find one another fork.  The right hand side might be signed to “Chaupisacha” so continue on your left towards “Niebli”.  After only 2.4 km from this spot, or 14.1km from the highway, you will find a dense Second –growth just along a bend in the road.  In January 2009, there was a path heading up to the left into the dense gallery.  This is a good area to look for the Leimebamba Antpitta.  One other site for the antpitta is located further below the road.   Continue for 1. 6 km downhill from this site, or 15.7 km from the highway, there is a fork on the road.  Ignore the left exit road, and continue downhill for 2.0 km more.   At this point, which is 17.7 km from the highway, you will find another fork.  Take the right hand road, and after only 100 meters, there will be one other fork at 17.8 km from the highway.  Take the right hand fork heading down the hill.  If you are planning to drive beyond this spot I strongly recommend a four wheel drive vehicle.  From this point, another 600 meters, you can look again for the Leimebamba Antpitta just along the dense forest on your left. The road continues through good habitat, but I have not explored the area beyond this spot.

 

Birds to look for

Humid Montane Scrub, Semi-humid Montane Scrub and middle and upper Montane

Dry   Montane Scrub (DMS), Second –growth (2G), Forest   (F).

Common: White-tipped Dove (2G,F), Sparkling Violetear (DMS,   2G,F), Andean Emerald (2G,F), Azara's Spinetail (2G), Blackish Tapaculo (2G,F),   White-crested Elaenia (2G), Tufted Tit-Tyrant (2G),  Cinnamon Flycatcher (2G,F), Southern   Yellow-Grosbeak (2G,F).

Uncommon: Plain-breasted Hawk (2G,F), Black-chested   Buzzard-Eagle (2G,F), Andean Guan (F), Western Emerald (2G),  Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (2G,F), Long-tailed   Antbird (2G,F), Chestnut-crowned   Antpitta (2G), Tawny-rumped   Tyrannulet (2G,F), Sierran Elaenia (2G,F), Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant (2G,F),  Red-crested Cotinga (2G,F), Plain-tailed   Wren (2G,F), Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager (2G,F).

Rare:White-bellied Woodstar (2G,F), Leimebamba Antpitta(2G,F).

Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.

 

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