Reserva Mundo Verde is a tract of virgin cloud forest and grazing land located near the town of Las Tolas in the north-west region of Ecuador’s Pinchinca province. It has a cool climate, with a general temperature of between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius (50 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit.) Reserva Mundo Verde is approximately 1,500 metres above sea level and is roughly 60 hectares. Half of the reserve consists of primary and secondary rainforest, with 25 hectares of grazing land for milking cows and 5 hectares for fruit and vegetable production.
Volunteers at Reserva Mundo Verde sleep and eat in Las Tolas, a small, nearby town with 350 inhabitants from roughly 70 families. Las Tolas is a warm, close knit community who love to receive international visitors. It is the only community in the area that still has its traditional wooden houses and is surrounded by the magical cloud forest with its waterfalls, creeks, rivers and spectacular views.
The land used for food production is rich and fertile with no need for chemical fertilizers. Some of the organic produce include guava, orange and avocado trees, passion fruit vines and sugar cane.
There are 10 friendly cows, all with names, whose milk provides the main source of income for Luis and his family. A plan that is being hatched for the future is to cultivate fish (of the Tilapia variety) in fish ponds. We are in the process of reforesting land that was cleared for grazing, as well as growing more organic vegetables. The farm uses a gravity feed water system and currently has an old uninhabited timber house on it. There is no electricity on the farm (hence guests stay in the town of Las Tolas) but electricity, along with the construction of wooden cabins is in the process of happening on the reserve.
The cloud forest section and its flora and fauna
The cloud forest section has more than 10 water pools and 3 large creeks, and at night there is nothing nicer than watching the bright night sky brimming with stars, while listing to the live concert of toucans and frogs.
Given that Reserva Mundo Verde is located in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, you will be able to see and hear beautiful flora and fauna all around you. Luis is extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna on the reserve, and can take you to look at the birds and other animals if you wish.
The area is hugely popular with bird watchers, with Reserva Mundo Verde home to over 150 species of birds alone (the latest count is 156 bird species but the list is growing all the time!) Some of the birds that you can see during your stay include toucans, wild turkeys, tangara, falcons and bue. The most famous bird located on the reserve is the exotic-looking long wattle umbrella bird (pictured below). It is listed as a threatened species and is only found in a narrow belt of land in Southern Colombia and Ecuador. Its name comes from the long, inflatable, scaly wattle that hangs from the males’ chest and is used in courtship.
Other animals that call Reserva Mundo Verde home are toucans, armadillos (pictured above), monkeys, sloths, pumas, deer, squirrels and badgers. In terms of flora, some of the most important trees on the Reserve are the caoba, roble, ceiba and caucho trees, with the balsa and copal trees being the largest and most attractive trees in the forest. Reserva Mundo Verde also has some spectacular flowers, including native orchids and heliconias.