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You are here:3.3 Oyacachi Forest.

3.3 Oyacachi Forest.

The Oyacachi upper montane forest is situated within the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve. The birding areas are forest patches owned by the local Quichua people in the small town of Oyacachi. These isolated forest patches are surrounded by extensive farmland and disturbed habitat. The elevation ranges from 2650 m. to 3700m 


Páramo Grassland, Upper Montane Cloud Forest.                                                       



Oyacachi Forest.

The easiest way access the Oyacachi temperate forest is by taking a dirt road that begins near the town of Cayambe.  There are other access roads that are in poor condition and not recommended.  You can continue from Guayllabamba valley or access it from the town of Cayambe. There is no public bus transportation to Oyacachi, but you can take a bus from Quito or Guayllabamba heading to Cayambe.   From Cayambe, you can hire a pickup to Oyacachi. Another possibility would be to hire a taxi, though a high clearance vehicle is recommended though not necessary.  There is no entrance fee to be paid or special permit to access the forest.



Oyacachi Forest.

This site is the best place in Ecuador to look for the Black-collared Jay.

The entrance to Oyacachi can be accessed by continuing from the Guayllabamba Valley or starting from Quito.   You must take the “Panamericana Norte” the northern Pan American highway, following Ave. 10 de Agosto or the Ave. Eloy Alfaro to their end in the north of Quito. From here the road becomes the Pan American Highway, as you pass toward below a bridge where you access the road to Carcelen.  This will be point 0.0 km as you leave the city and start descending toward Calderon and Guayllabamba.  From here to a point 11.9 km down the highway there is a toll booth. Past this toll booth another 10.4 km at 22.4km from Quito, there is a fork.  Take the left hand fork along the Guayllabamba bypass.   At 3.5 km from this point which is 25.8 km from Quito, you will be leaving the Guayllabamba by pass when you get to a roundabout. The first exit on you right switches back to town of Guayllamaba.   The second exit goes to Cayambe, this is the exit to take to Oyacachi.  The last exit goes to Otavalo-Ibarra avoiding the town of Cayambe.   From this second turn toward Cayambe on the roundabout drive further 7.2 km to a fork in the highway at 33km from Quito.  Here take the left fork to Cayambe. Continue for 20.7 km more or 53.7 km from Quito.  At this point there will be a dirt side road on your right heading to Oayacachi.

(Click here to download Map. Oyacachi Cloud Forest).

From Cayambe

From the Cayambe city 0.0 km and once leaving the main four lane highway on the south side of the city, drive for 6.0 km.   At this point there will be a dirt side road on your left heading to Oayacachi.

From the start of the side road heading to Cangagua and Oyacachi along the Pan American Highway point 0.0 km that might also be signed to Hacienda Huachalá,  Drive for 6.5 km to the town of Cangagua.   Drive clockwise around the main plaza and once you reach the street where the church is located turn left heading up and out of the town.  On the second block on this street turn right.   Continue along this street and at 1.1 km from the Cangagua main square and 7.6 km from the highway, there will be a fork.   Take a left heading on a stretch of road with asphalt surface for 4.7 km or 12.3 km from the highway.   Here you will find a fork.  Take the left road over a cobblestone road and follow it for 2.8 km.  Here at this point you will find a “T” junction at 15.1 km from the highway.   Here you will turn to your right heading to the Cayambe-Coca Reserve.  You will cross a low pass over the continental divide at 3700 m at 19.7 km from the highway.  Further 15.1 km from here you will reach the Cayambe-Coca Reserve.  The park ranger station is 34.8 km from the highway.  The ranger will ask you to register, and as of January, 2009 there was no entrance fee.   Just beyond this park ranger station you will find a fork.  The right road is forbidden unless you have a special permit from the Ministerio del Ambiente from the Cayambe office. This road takes you to the Papallacta area by the Termas de Papallacta resort.  Take the left road descending into Oyacachi at 4.8 km from the ranger’s station or 39.6 km from the highway there is a nice piece of forest that stretches down close to Oyacachi.   Bird along this area and start looking for the Black-collared Jay.   The jay not only occurs in this forest patch but also along the forest below Oyacachi. There are no records from the Turquoise Jay in this site and any record confirming it existence should be reported. Only 7.5 km down from the park ranger’s station, or 42.6 km from the highway, you will be at the Oyacachi village.  Here take a left on the second street on your left.  This street will take you across and out of the town.  Once you have left the town behind, search for the Jay along any piece of forest along the road. The road basically follows the Oyacachi River down the valley and at 9.7 km from the village of Oyacachi and 52.3 km from the highway, you will reach a fork.  Take the left hand side road for 500 meters until arriving at a bridge.  Here look for the Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper.  This road continues for 1.6 km more or 54.4 km from the highway, and will reach a dead end as of January 2009.  There are plans to further extend this road.   From this point you can explore the area down below on foot.   This trail eventually goes to “El Chaco” but it is a long trail and is not recommended.  You have to follow the same route back to the highway.


Birds to look for

Oyacachi Forest.

Grasslands (G), Second-growth (2G), Stunted Forest (SF), Forest (F),   Rivers (R).

Common: White-collared   Swift, Shining   Sunbeam (SF), Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager (2G,F), Plain-colored   Seedeater (2G,G).

Uncommon: Torrent Duck (R),Buff-winged   Starfrontlet (2G,F), Sapphire-vented Puffleg (2G,F), Tyrian Metaltail (2G,F),   Great Sapphirewing (2G,F), Sword-billed Hummingbird (2G,F), Purple-backed   Thornbill (2G,F), Bar-bellied Woodpecker (F), White-browed Spinetail (F),   Rufous Antpitta (F), Tawny Antpitta (2G), Chestnut-naped Antpitta (F),   Undulated Antpitta (F), Crowned Chat-Tyrant (F), Barred Fruiteater (F),   Paramo Pipit (G), White-capped Dipper (R), Black-collared   Jay (2G,F), Blue-backed Conebill (F), Superciliaried Hemispingus (F),

Rare: Andean   Pygmy-Owl (F), Rainbow-bearded Thornbill (2G, F), Golden-crowned Tanager   (SF), Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager (2G, F), Paramo Seedeater (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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