When it comes to bird watching, Ecuador has many privately owned reserves and refuges that are ideal for nature enthusiasts. Two such reserves – the Sacha Lodge and Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge – are world renowned and give two unique perspectives on the diverse bird population and landscape. Although these privately owned reserves are organizations for profit, their primary goals lie in their conservation efforts and the pleasure of introducing the country’s natural beauty to visitors from all over the world.
The Sacha Lodge
The Sacha Lodge was founded by Swiss born businessman ‘Benny’ Ammeter. His purchase and later development of 500 hectares of land surrounding Lake Pilchicocha was motivated by his love and fascination of the exotic land and rainforests of the country. The Lodge opened in 1992 with six guest rooms and has quickly become an ideal place for bird watching. Ecuador is a favourite destination for bird lovers hoping to immerse themselves in a pristine rainforest environment to observe Neotropical species in their natural habitats.
Ecotourism Meets Conservation
Sacha Lodge strives to perfect what it sees as the true basis of ecotourism, which includes a balance between rainforest and environment conservation, economic development, and respect for local culture. The Lodge offers visitors a truly unique experience and insight into the natural rainforest – especially for those with a passion for bird watching. Ecuador has, sadly, lost many acres of its beautiful rainforest to deforestation, but the Lodge continues to fight against this destruction and has, over the years, saved around 5000 acres of land from this practice. Sacha Lodge is now one of the largest privately owned reserves in the country and continues to draw many international visitors every year.
Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge
Refugio Paz is a fairly unusual privately owned reserve in that it was developed by native-born Angel Paz, who inherited the land from his parents. After living on and working the land for farming purposes throughout his childhood, Angel Paz decided to convert his family land and home into a conservation refuge after realizing the appeal the area had for bird watching. Ecuador has a wealth of wildlife, flora and fauna to offer visitors in a very condensed geographical space, making it an ideal destination for wildlife lovers.
Refugio Paz is typical of this experience, as bird watchers are frequently able to see the famous Cock-of-the-rock, Golden-headed Quetzals and Toucan Barbets. However, the true prize for visiting Refugio Paz is the opportunity to see the extremely rare Giant Antpitta and the Yellow-breasted Antpitta, both of which have been personally conditioned by Angel to appear out of the forest – much to the delight of thousands of nature enthusiasts each year.
For bird watching, Ecuador offers an outstanding experience and a range of opportunities that simply cannot be equalled. The national passion for wildlife and the extensive conservation efforts are made obvious at any one of the country’s privately owned reserves. A visit to either Sacha Lodge or Refugio Paz will be very rewarding and heartening for any traveller.