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You are here:6.8 El Tundo Natural Reserve and Sozoranga

6.8 El Tundo Natural Reserve and Sozoranga

The El Tundo Reserve is owned and managed by the Arco Iris Foundation in Loja.  The reserve is 158 hectare in size, protecting a small remnant of forest near the small town of Sozoranga in Loja Province.  The reserve lands are located close to the Peruvian Border at elevations between 1300 m to 1800 m.  Arco Iris Foundation has reported 138 bird species occurring in the reserve, including some 27 regional endemics shared with adjacent northern Perú.



Southwestern Lower Montane and Foothill Forest.



El Tundo Natural Reserve and Sozoranga

El Tundo can be easily accessed from the city of Macará.  There are many buses running on the Loja-Cariamanga-Macará Highway that reach the entrance road to Tundo Reserve near Sozoranga, but getting to the forest on foot would be time consuming.  Because of its small population, hiring a vehicle in Sozoranga might be difficult.  Hiring a car from Macara or Loja would be a better idea.  You can easily hire a pickup truck in Macará to explore the reserve and the neighboring areas.

The dirt road inside the reserve can be driven only with a high clearance vehicle. During the rainy season from December-April, a four wheel drive vehicle will be necessary.  It is possible that during an exceptionally strong rainy season the road may be impassable.



El Tundo Natural Reserve and Sozoranga

Starting on the road entrance to Jorupe Reserve or at the end of the Portovelo-Catacocha-Macará Road near Macará, you should drive toward Sozoranga.

To read instructions on how to get here see the birding instructions on those respective subchapters. 

From the road entrance to Jorupe Reserve drive toward Sozoranga for 24.3 km or 29.0 km from Macará.  Here in the left side is the entrance road to Tundo Reserve.  The small town of Sozoranga is 0.9 km farther ahead or 29.9 km from Macará.

(Click here to download Map. El Tundo Natural Reserve and Sozoranga)

Take the side road heading to El Tundo and reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future references.

Drive for 0.4 km until the first divide in the road.  Take the left turn, as the right hand fork goes to a farm.  Drive 0.9 or 1.5 km from the main road.   Any patch of woodland along this drive may have Bay-crowned Brush-Finch.

At this point you will find a second fork in the road.  The left hand road goes to El Tundo and the right goes to more farms.  Drive ahead 1.4 km, or 3.0 km from the main road.  At this point you arrive to a yet another split in the road.  The left road descends steeply toward El Tundo forest.  The right road goes to some farmland.

Continuing downhill for only 0.1 km, or 3.1 km from the main road, the forest will begin.  The best area starts some 0.8 km, ahead or 3.9 km from the main road.  Find a place to park and bird the forest in this area.  This is probably the most accessible spot anywhere to look for Gray-headed Antbird.  This species should be your main target here.  The forest stretches for a further 0.9 km ahead until it ends in second-growth forest 4.8 km away from the main road. This forest is also home for:  Gray-backed Hawk, Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Ochre-bellied Dove (seasonal), Red-masked Parakeet, Gray-chinned Hermit (porcullae race), White-vented Plumeleteer, Long-billed Starthroat, Little Woodstar, Line-cheeked Spinetail, Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Chapman's Antshrike, Scaled Antpitta, Watkins´s Antpitta, Loja Tyrannulet, Tumbesian Tyrannulet, Pacific Elaenia, Ecuadorian Thrush,  Plumbeous-backed Thrush, Three-banded Warbler, Silver-backed Tanager, Highland Hepatic-Tanager, White-winged Brush-Finch and Yellow-tailed Oriole.

Return to the main road and drive down toward Sozoranga.  Sozoranga will be only 0.9 km from the Tundo road entrance.  At this point you will enter town.  Reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future references.  Here the main road to Loja makes a sharp turn to your right taking a short bypass to avoid Sozoranga.  The road heading downhill goes into town, and a wide street on the left goes away from town into an area near El Tundo and some forest patches.  In case you have not been able to visit El Tundo, this side road is an alternative.  Take the wide street on your left and drive for 0.3 km.  At this point turn left to exit the town and continue on the side road.  Drive on for 1.0 km or 1.3 km from Sozoranga.   At this point you will find the first forest patch.  There will be other birding opportunities at pieces of forest ahead at 2.0 km, or 2.3 km from Sozoranga.   Some of the species mentioned for El Tundo can be seen in these forest patches.  The White-winged Brush-Finch is particularly numerous in this area.

Returning to Sozoranga visit the main plaza where you should concentrate on the church facade looking for a nesting colony of Chestnut-collared Swallows.  Once you have visited Sozoranga, return to the main road and continue toward Loja on a short bypass to Sozoranga.  Drive for 0.3 km until a split in the road.  The left road goes back to Sozoranga, while the main road continues straight ahead toward Loja.

Drive 0.3 km, or 0.6 km from Sozoranga , and you will see a gas station on the left.  Continue on past the station for 1.8 km, or 2.4 km from Sozoranga.

Find a place to stop here.  The scrubby habitat both sides of this wide bend should be searched for the lek of the Gray-chinned Hermit (porcullae race), you could also walk the road up for 500 meters and down for 300 meters looking for birds.

The forest patch here also has:  White-vented Plumeleteer, Chapman´s Antshrike, Tumbesian Tyrannulet, Three-banded Warbler, Silver-backed Tanager and Black-cowled Saltator. From this point onward there will be several forest patches on the way to Loja that are worth exploring.   Look especially at the forest patch 9.7 km further ahead, or 12.1 km from Sozoroanga.  This denser forest patch is a good place to look for:  Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Andean Slaty-Thrush and White-winged Brush-Finch.

Drive on for 1.9 km, or 14.1 km from Sozoranga.  At this point you will see some forest patches dominated by Chusquea bamboo.  The Piura Hemispingus has been seen and Gray-headed Antbird has been heard singing from here.  In January, 2009, the bamboo was seeding, and three singing males Maroon-chested Ground-Doves were seen here.

Drive another 1.4 km, or 15.5 km from Sozoranga, and you will see a side dirt road on right. This side road is located in the outskirts of Utuana and will take you to Utuana Reserve.


Birds to look for

El Tundo Natural Reserve and Sozoranga

Andean   Mountain Scrub (AMS), Bamboo forest (BF), Forest (F), Second-growth (2G).

Common: Line-cheeked Spinetail (AMS,F,2G), Loja   Tyrannulet (AMS,F,2G), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (AMS,F,2G), Ecuadorian Thrush (AMS,2G), Chestnut-collared   Swallow, Silver-backed Tanager (AMS,F,2G), White-winged   Brush-Finch (AMS,2G).

Uncommon: Gray-backed Hawk (F), Rufous-headed Chachalaca (F), Ochre-bellied Dove (F), Red-masked Parakeet (F,2G), Gray-chinned Hermit (AMS,F,2G), White-vented Plumeleteer (AMS,F,2G), Long-billed Starthroat (AMS,F,2G), Rufous-necked   Foliage-gleaner (AMS,F,2G), Chapman´s Antshrike (AMS,2G), Gray-headed Antbird (BF),Watkins´s   Antpitta (AMS,F), Tumbesian Tyrannulet (AMS,2G), Pacific Elaenia (F), Three-banded Warbler (AMS,2G), Highland Hepatic-Tanager (AMS,F), Black-cowled Saltator (AMS,2G), Bay-crowned Brush-Finch (AMS,2G).

Rare: Maroon-chested   Ground-Dove (BF), Little Woodstar (AMS,F,2G), Scaled Antpitta (AMS,F), Plumbeous-backed Thrush (F), Andean Slaty-Thrush (F), Piura Hemispingus (BF).

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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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