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You are here:6.5 Buenaventura Reserve

6.5 Buenaventura Reserve

The Buenaventura Reserve is owned and managed by the Jocotoco Foundation.  The reserve is 1500 hectares in size, and there are plans to increase this protected area to 5000 hectares. 

The reserve lands are located at elevations between 450m to 1100m. As of January, 2009, reserve staff and visitors have recorded 327 bird species, 26 of which are restricted-range species, and nine of which are classified by BirdLife International as globally threatened or vulnerable.  This reserve is home to El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo, both of which are rare, critically endangered species endemic to Ecuador. The Jocotoco Foundation is the leading organization protecting land for the most threatened and endangered bird species in Ecuador.



Lower Montane Forest, Foothill Forest.



Buenaventura Reserve

The site can be visited continuing after your visit to Manglares-Churute Reserve or Puerto Bolívar and Jambelí Island Mangroves.  The get to the reserve you need to take the E-25 Guayaguil-Machala-Santa Rosa highway and then turn inland toward Piñas.  There are many buses running along the E25 highway, and getting to Machala and Santa Rosa should be easy.  From any of these towns there is continuous bus service to Piñas.  Some of the areas from the reserve are located right along the Piñas-Santa Rosa highway and can be visited on foot.   However, the more interesting areas are along dirt roads and a high clearance vehicle is needed.  A four wheel drive will allow you to get to more remote areas and save you from taking any unnecessary walks, especially during the rainy season (Dec-April).  Should you take a bus to Piñas you can hire a pickup truck or a four wheel drive there.

The reserve can only be visited upon request and permission from the Jocotoco Foundation / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Phone: 02-2457090 in within working hours, Monday to Friday). The foundation will schedule your visit and make sure the park rangers know you are coming.

It is possible to stay in the close by towns of Piñas or Zaruma at some of the hotels in there.  Some acceptable choices in Piñas are: Cattleya Real Hotel email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the phones: (07) 2976 888 or (07) 2977 794, could also talk to the hotel`s manager Astrid Cortez cell phone: 099320062. Hostería Rosal del Sol (07) 2676515 or (07) 2676518 or talk to the hotel`s manager Verónica Loayza cell phone: 098474372.  The best alternative to stay is the Umbrellabird Lodge located inside the reserve and run by Jocotoco Foundation.  If you are not staying at the Umbrellabird Lodge, you will be asked to pay the US $10 or $2 for Ecuadorians, entrance ticket fee and register. You will also not receive any guidance from the reserve’s park rangers, some of whom are quite knowledgeable.



Buenaventura Reserve

If you are continuing from your visit to Manglares-Churute Ecologic Reserve or Puerto Bolivar and Jambelí Island on your way to other southern sites, please see the birding instructions in the respective subchapter on how to get there.

Beginning at the roundabout east of Machala near “El Cambio”, and where highway E25 diverts a roundabout going in 3 directions.  The road west goes to Machala, the road to north goes to Guayaquil, and the road heading east goes to Pasaje and Santa Rosa.  This is point 0.0 km.  Drive east toward Pasaje and Santa Rosa for 2.2 km.  At this point you will arrive at another roundabout.  The road to the left goes to Pasaje some 12.4 km ahead. This road eventually can take you to the Yunguilla Reserve in another 80.6 km.

The road on your right goes to Santa Rosa and Piñas. Take the right hand turn and drive 16.2 km, or 18.4 km from “El Cambio”.  

Here you will see a side road leaving the highway on your right. If you haven`t had the time to explore mangroves or shrimp ponds on your way here, taking this side might be a good choice to see some of the most common birds from this habitat.  The surroundings in this area were once the Santa Rosa marshes, but these marshes were either drained or turned into shrimp farms.  During the rainy season the area opposite the start of this side road floods and might be worth exploring.

Drive on for 1.5 km, or 19.9 km from “El Cambio”.  Here you will arrive at a crossroad in the road very near a gas station.  The fork on the left goes to Santa Rosa. The road on your right and straight ahead is the Santa Rosa bypass and is the one to take to avoid the city.  Take the bypass road and after only 0.8 km, or 20.7 km from “El Cambio”, along the outer side of a bend in the right side of the road you will see a trail heading out. At the beginning this trail passes through second-growth, and eventually after some 500 meters arrives at a small swampy area.  Some of the commoner birds described for Manglares-Churute Ecologic Reserve occur here.

Drive along the Santa Rosa bypass another 11.6 km, or 32.3 km from “El Cambio” until it ends.  If you find any divergent roads or roundabouts in this section, do not take them and just stay on the main road.  Make sure you don´t take the highway to Arenillas-Huaquillas.  Once you get at the end of the Santa Rosa bypass drive for another 20.9 km, or 53.2 km from “El Cambio”.  At this point you will find a “Y” in the road in a small village named Zaracay.  The right hand road goes to Balsas, and the left one goes toward Piñas.  Reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future reference.

(Click here to download Map. Buenaventura Reserve) 

Take the road to Piñas and drive for 5.9 km. At this point you will see the start of a dirt road on the left.  Here you will also see the signs that point toward the Umbrellabird lodge.  

Take the dirt road heading to the lodge and reset your odometer to 0.0 km for further reference.  Drive for 1.0 km and you will get to a house on the left.  The street light attracts many insects at nights, and the street light always has day-light birds in pursuit of such insects.

Most of the species here are fairly common birds: Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Ochraceous Attila, Cinnamon Becard, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Ecuadorian Thrush, Fasciated Wren, Buff-throated Saltator and Scrub Blackbird.

The next 0.2 km, and until 1.2 km from the highway, is a good place to look for White-whiskered Puffbird and Speckle-breasted Wren.

Drive the next 0.2 km until 1.4 km from the highway, and walk the next 0.9 km until you arrive at a bridge, which is 2.3 km from the highway.  Here along the forest stretch look for: White-whiskered Puffbird, Pacific Royal-Flycatcher, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Guira Tanager and Orange-crowned Euphonia.

Drive on for 0.3 km, or 2.6 km from the highway.  Here you will see a house on the right. The forest patches from this house up the road for the next 0.9 km, or 3.5 km from the highway, are a place to look for Gray Hawk, Ochraceous Attila and Black-striped Sparrow. At night this forest patch may have a hunting pair of Spectacled Owls.  The next 0.5 km up the road until 4.0 km from the highway has a second-growth forest where Brownish Twistwing can be seen.  The lodge itself is only 1.1 km ahead, or 5.1 km from the road entrance, at an elevation of 500 meters.

At the Umbrellabird Lodge, Pale-mandibled Araçari visit the fruit feeders regularly, and Rufous-headed Chachalaca comes as well.

The hummingbird feeders at the lodge are alive with bird activity, and hundreds of hummingbirds will be swirling around you.  Look here for: Baron's Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Green Thorntail, Emerald-bellied Woodnymph, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, White-vented Plumeleteer, Green-crowned Brilliant, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Long-billed Starthroat, Purple-throated and Little Woodstar and Green Honeycreeper.

Once at the lodge, reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future reference.  The next 0.7 km up the road can be quite productive, as here you can find seasonal Ochre-bellied Dove, and many other species including: Red-masked Parakeet, Bronze-winged Parrot, Slaty Spinetail, Western Slaty-Antshrike, Russet Antshrike, Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, Brownish Twistwing, Lesser Greenlet and Black-winged Saltator.

At 0.7 km from the lodge you will arrive at the head of the Umbrellabird Trail.  This trail will take you down through tall Second-growth for some 0.8 km before arriving at a place where several Long-watled Umbrellabirds display and deliver their booming sound at their lek.  This lek is active from November through April.  Out of this season birds are encountered here only occasionally, as they have scattered throughout the forest.

Along the first part of trail you can find Club-winged Manakin and Song Wren.  When walking down the trail also look for Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner, Uniform Antshrike, Checker-throated Antwren, Immaculate Antbird, and Chestnut-backed Antbird.


Once you leave this trail, there will be many birding opportunities up the road, but I suggest you to drive for another 4.6 km, or 5.3 km from the lodge.  At this point on the left side you will find the entrance to a muddy trail entering the forest.  This not only takes you to where El Oro Parakeet can be seen, but on this “hot spot” trail you can also find:  El Oro Tapaculo, along with Brown-billed Scythebill, Rufous-rumped Antwren and Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant.

Driving up the road you will see several forest patches where you should stop to look for birds.  This section of road may produce several species not recorded form the lower part.  At the Heliconia flowers stands look for White-tipped Sicklebill.  Other birds in this area include: Guayaquil Woodpecker, Pacific Tuftedcheek , Golden-winged Manakin, Gray-and-gold Warbler, Rufous-throated Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager and Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager.

After driving ahead for another 2.1 km, or 7.4 km from the lodge, you will get to a fork.  The left hand fork goes toward Zambotambo, and the cloudforest in the upper part of the reserve.  The fork to the right takes you to the Piñas-Santa Rosa highway in only another 0.2 km.  The forest around this road intersection is a good place to find Whiskered Wren and Chocó Brush-Finch.  At night Black-and-white Owl can be seen here, and at the street light next to the Virgin Mary Shrine.

If your vehicle doesn´t allow you to get to the shrine via the road above the lodge, you can return to the highway at the lower entrance 0.0 km.  Drive for 5.95 km up the highway, here on the left side of the road you will see a house.  This house and the surrounding forest are also part of the reserve.  Near this house you can also visit the hummingbird garden, where all the species mentioned from the lodge feeders can also be seen.  There is a parking place on the outer side of the bend.  To enter you should be careful when parking, as it can be dangerous due to speeding vehicles on this road.  

Driving up another 4.1 km, or 10.1 km from the lower entrance to the Umbrellabird Lodge, you will get to Virgin Mary Shrine at the start to the Zambotambo road. Reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future reference.  Take the Zambotambo road to visit the cloud forest in the upper part of the reserve.


After driving for 0.2 km you will find a road split.  The road descending to your left goes to the lodge and should be only attempted when the road is in good condition, and with a high clearance vehicle.  Follow the road to the right and drive 1.4 km, or 1.6 km from the highway.  At this point you will see a forest patch on the left of the road which is a good place to look for El Oro Parakeet.  This forest stretches for some 0.4 km till about 2.0 km from the highway.  

Shortly after this forest patch ends you will arrive to a corral on the right side of the road.  Drive on 0.7 km, or 2.7 km from the highway.  Here you will arrive to a small stream running across the road.  Find a place to park and look for birds along the first 300 meters up the road, and also walking down to the abandoned corral.  The forest close to the stream is an area where the parakeets find plenty of food, and at times they are commonly found.  Other birds in this mossy forest include: Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Golden-headed Quetzal, Rufous Motmot, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Line-cheeked Spinetail, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Ashy-headed Tyrannulet, Scaled Fruiteater , Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, White-winged Tanager and Ochre-breasted Tanager. There will be a few more forest patches that might be worth exploring especially if you have not found the parakeets in the lower part.

During the sunnier days be alert for soaring Gray-backed Hawk, Barred Hawk, Great Black-Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Variable Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle and Northern Crested Caracara and other raptors.

Returning to the Piñas-Santa Rosa highway to the Virgin Mary Shrine, you can visit a trail starting some 50 meters away across the highway on the way to Piñas.  The first part of this trail is quite muddy and you are going to need rubber boots.  Shortly after entering the forest the trails splits.  The left side goes along a more level terrain and the right hand side climbs the mountain.  The first section of the right hand trail is a good place to look for Ochre-breasted Antpitta and Uniform Treehunter.  The first 200 meters along these two trails should be walked slowly since the El Oro Tapaculo also occurs here.

From the Virgin Mary Shrine on the highway 0.0 km drive toward Piñas for 0.4 km until you will find a split in the road. The right hand fork goes to Moromoro.  Follow the main road to Piñas which will be 9.0 km ahead, or 9.4 km from the Virgin Mary Shrine.  Driving 8.9 km beyond Piñas and you will arrive to another split in the road.  The right hand fork takes you to Portovelo, and the left road takes you to Zaruma.  This fork will be a point of reference to continue your trip either to Loja Airport-Catamayo valley or Catacocha on your way to Macará.

From this point Zaruma will be only some 5.0 km ahead.


Birds to look for                                           

Buenaventura Reserve.

Second-growth   (2G), Forest (F), Hummingbird feeders (hf).

Common: Red-masked Parakeet (2G,F), Bronze-winged Parrot (2G,F), White-necked Jacobin (hf), Brown Violetear (hf), Green Thorntail (hf), Emerald-bellied Woodnymph (hf)¸ Violet-bellied Hummingbird (hf), Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (hf), Andean Emerald (hf),   Violet-tailed Sylph (2G,F),   Rufous Motmot (2G,F),   Black-cheeked Woodpecker (2G),   Slaty Spinetail (2G), Line-cheeked   Spinetail (2G,F),  Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner (2G,F), Loja Tyrannulet (2G,F), Bran-colored Flycatcher (2G), Ornate Flycatcher (2G,F), Cinnamon Becard (2G), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (2G,F), Lesser Greenlet (2G,F),   Gray-and-gold Warbler (2G),   Ecuadorian Thrush (2G),   Fasciated Wren (2G), Green Honeycreeper (2G,F),   Silver-throated Tanager (2G,F),   Beryl-spangled Tanager (2G,F)¸ Bay-headed   Tanager (2G,F), Ashy-throated   Bush-Tanager (2G,F),   Buff-throated Saltator (2G,F),   Black-winged Saltator (2G,F), Scrub Blackbird (2G).

Uncommon: Gray   Hawk (2G),   Gray-backed Hawk (2G,F), Barred Hawk (2G,F), Great Black-Hawk (2G,F), Short-tailed   Hawk (2G,F), Northern Crested Caracara (2G), Rufous-headed Chachalaca (2G,F), El Oro   Parakeet (2G,F), Spectacled Owl (F), Black-and-white Owl (F), Baron's Hermit (2G,F), Green-crowned Brilliant (hf), Fawn-breasted Brilliant (hf), White-vented Plumeleteer (hf), Long-billed Starthroat (hf), Golden-headed   Quetzal (F), White-whiskered   Puffbird (2G,F),   Smoky-brown Woodpecker (2G,F),Guayaquil Woodpecker (2G,F), Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner (2G,F), Pacific Tuftedcheek (F), Uniform Treehunter (F), Brown-billed Scythebill (F), Western Slaty-Antshrike (2G,F), Russet Antshrike (2G,F), Uniform Antshrike (F), Immaculate   Antbird (2G,F),   Chestnut-backed Antbird (2G,F),   Checker-throated Antwren (F), Ashy-headed Tyrannulet (2G,F), Rufous-winged Tyrannulet (2G,F), Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant (F), White-throated Spadebill (F), Brownish Twistwing (2G), Pacific Royal-Flycatcher (2G,F), Ochraceous Attila (2G,F), Club-winged Manakin (F),   Golden-winged Manakin (F),   Speckle-breasted Wren (2G),   Song Wren (F), Whiskered Wren (2G), Yellow-tufted Dacnis (2G,F), Guira Tanager (2G,F), Rufous-throated Tanager (2G,F), Golden-naped Tanager (2G,F), White-winged Tanager (2G,F), Ochre-breasted Tanager (2G,F), Orange-crowned Euphonia (2G,F).

Rare: Variable   Hawk (2G,F), Black Hawk-Eagle (F), Purple-bibbed Whitetip (2G,F), Velvet-purple Coronet (2G,F), Purple-throated Woodstar (hf), Little Woodstar (hf), Ochre-bellied Dove (F), Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner (F), Rufous-rumped Antwren (F), Ochre-breasted Antpitta (F), El Oro Tapaculo (2G,F), Glistening-green Tanager (2G,F), Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager (2G,F).

For a complete Buenaventura Bird list visit Bird List-Buenaventura.

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.


Jocotoco Foundation

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