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Tapichalaca Reserve

Tapichalaca Reserve, Ecuador

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tapichalaca reserve

  • Summary Info
  • Establishment & Habitat
  • Wildlife
  • Visiting

Tapichalaca Reserve Summary Info

  • Name
  • Tapichalaca Reserve
  • Area:
  • 3500 ha
  • Habitat Type:
  • Montane Cloud Forest
  • Location:
  • Loja, Ecuador
  • Base City:
  • Yangana
  • Accommodation:
  • Casa Simpson
  • Find Reserve:
  • Map
Tapichalaca Reserve

Tapichalaca Reserve Establishment

The Tapichalaca Reserve was the first protected area established by the JocoToco Foundation. Beginning life in 1998, the reserve protects the Jocotoco Antipitta and the Casa Simpson Lodge provides the only lodge in the world where you can see this bird.

Tapichalaca Reserve Habitat

The Tapichalaca Reserve is in the Zamora-Chinchipe Province on the Amazonian slope of the Andes connecting to the southernmost point of the Podocarpus National Park. Covering about 3500 hectares (8500 acres), the reserve has an altitudinal range of 1800 to 3400 meters.

The habitat within the Tapichalaca Reserve include mainly cool montane cloud forest with temperature from 10-20 C. Terrain here is steep and prone to landslides resulting in a distinct moss covered forest where the Jocotoco Antipitta searches for large earthworms. As you get little lower, you emerge into lowland forest where temperature gets a little warmer (20-30C) and the flora and fauna change.

The reserve was extended in 2004 to the west side of the Río Valladolid/Río Tapichalaca drainage and the section was named Christopher Parsons Forest in memory of the producer and director of the famous “Life on Earth” television series.

Tapichalaca Reserve

Tapichalaca Reserve Wildlife

The National Museum of Natural Sciences conducted research on amphibians and reptiles in the reserve and found that 34 species (70% endemic, 53% globally threatened) make their homes here. For example, the Tapichalaca Tree Frog (Hyloscirtus tapichalaca) was discovered here in 2001 and is not known to live anywhere else.

Plants in the reserve include over 130 species classified as endemic with 90% classified as threatened. There are 50 species in the area that are not known to occur outside the reserve. Orchid enthusiasts will be pleased that orchids are particularly abundant and there are several hundred species to search for. Practically all of these don’t grow on the ground and are epiphytic. The critically endangered Bomarea longipes was thought extinct or ‘lost’ for 130 years and was found in the reserve. The only specimen known was held at RBG Kew Herbarium, collected in 1876 by French explorer and botanist Edouard Andre.

Andean birds are exceptionally abundant in the Tapichalaca and 300 species are regular visitors to the reserve. The star players are the tanagers and there is a very high density of white-capped tanagers and humming birds.

Threatened species in the reserve include the:

  • Jocotoco Antpitta
  • Golden-plumed Parakeet
  • White-breasted Parakeet
  • Bearded Guan
  • Coppery-chested Jacamar.
  • Near-threatened species:
  • Imperial Snipe
  • Masked Mountain Tanager
  • Peruvian Antpitta
  • Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan
  • Greater Scythebill
  • Neblina Metaltail
  • Orange-banded Flycatcher
  • Masked Saltator

More than 300 species of bird have been recorded in and adjacent to the reserve. The reserve doesn’t just include birds species and is home to a range of other animal populations including Puma, Andean Paca, Northern Pudu, Andean Coati, and the rarely sighted Woolly Mountain Tapir and Spectacled Bear. Motion sensitive trail cameras have been established in the reserve and have captured a variety of animals using the reserve.

Tapichalaca Reserve

Visiting the Tapichalaca Reserve

The JocoToco Foundation has implemented feeding stations in the reserve where you can arrange to watch the flagship species, Jocotoco Antpitta, being fed worms to aid in population recovery. You can only view this spectacle while staying overnight at the Casa Simpson.

  • amazon rainforest accommodation

    Double Room:

    Casa Simpson Yangana, Ecuador

    Located just outside the Amazon Basin, the Casa Simpson lodge is positioned with a fantastic view of Cerro Tapichalaca on the eastern Andean slope. The extensive trail network winds through Andean forests where you have a chance of seeing many rare and attractive bird species and orchids. We are proud to offer the only lodge in the world where you can see the exclusive Jocotoco Antpitta bird species.

For Tour Operators & Lodge Owners