Have you ever heard of Cofan Bermejo Ecological Reserve? It is a protected area that lies in the northern part of the Amazon region and is home to rugged and inaccessible terrain that remains unknown to most Ecuadorians. The reserve is named after the Bermejo river, which has been the ancestral territory of the Cofán nationality for centuries. In this article, we will take you on a journey to explore the cultural aspects, biodiversity, and attractions of this hidden gem.
Location and Geography
Cofan Bermejo Ecological Reserve is situated north of the Cascales canton. The San Miguel River runs along its northern border, separating it from Colombia. The reserve is home to several rivers, including the Bermejo and Chandia Na’e, as well as some tributaries of the Aguarico. The Cofán communities of Soquié, Tayo’su Canqque, Chandia Na’e, and Alto Bermejo are also located within the reserve. The Cerro Sur Pax, the highest point of the reserve, is located to the northwest of Alto Bermejo.
The Cofán people have inhabited the area for centuries, and the reserve is part of their ancestral territory. Hence, the Ministry of Environment coordinates with the Indigenous Federation of the Cofán Nationality of Ecuador to manage the reserve. The local communities still preserve their ancestral customs and traditions, and a significant portion of the activities and programmes are executed jointly with them. The reserve is also covered by a tropical forest that extends into the Amazon, making it a vital cultural site.
Cofan Bermejo Ecological Reserve is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The Sur Pax hill, exceeding 2,000 metres of altitude, houses a cloud forest that has emblematic species such as romerillo and cascarilla. Visitors can also spot several mammals, such as the spectacled bear, the red deer, and the mountain tapir. The tropical forest surrounding the Alto Bermejo community boasts some of the largest trees in the area, including cedar, chuncho, copal, guarango, and matapalo. Moreover, there are several species of monkeys, including the howler, the nocturnal, and the spider. Other arboreal mammals, such as the cusumbo and the tamandúa u anteater, also inhabit the reserve. The lower parts of the forest are preferred by carnivores like the jaguar, the puma, the tigrillo, and the elusive jungle dog.
Visiting the Reserve
As the reserve is located far away from populated centres and has limited access, it still lacks tourist facilities. However, researchers and scientists can coordinate a visit with the Ministry of Environment to explore the reserve’s natural beauty.