Unveiling the Enigmatic Cordillera del Cóndor
Nestled in the southern part of the country, between the provinces of Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe, lies the Cordillera del Cóndor — a colossal mountainous massif spanning over 160 kilometres, which hosts the El Quimi Biological Reserve. While the remoteness of Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe has kept these areas inaccessible to the general public, this isolation has also safeguarded a remarkable world waiting to be discovered.
Secret Garden (2023)
Securing Access: Scientific and Research Visits
Due to their isolation, these regions lack tourist facilities, making visits primarily reserved for scientific and research purposes. Those eager to explore must seek approval from the Ministry of the Environment, ensuring a controlled and purposeful approach. The awe-inspiring landscapes of the Cordillera del Cóndor, ranging from cloud forests to moorlands, have recently garnered global interest for their scientific significance and conservation value.
Guardians of Biodiversity: The Reserves
In a proactive effort to protect these unique ecosystems, the Ecuadorian government established four reserves along the Cordillera. El Condor, El Quimi, and Cerro Plateado are designated biological reserves, while El Zarza stands as a Wildlife Refuge. Collectively, these areas safeguard over 41,000 hectares of one of Ecuador’s least-explored regions, ensuring the preservation of its unparalleled natural wonders.
Unveiling Biodiversity: A Haven for Flora and Fauna
Studies conducted in the Cordillera del Cóndor have uncovered a staggering biodiversity that sets new records. The unique geological composition, with sandstone formations differing from the Andes, has given rise to distinct soil conditions. Here, a peculiar dwarf forest and a deceptive dry scrubland thrive, forming an ideal habitat for a plethora of species.
Botanical studies estimate a potential richness surpassing any other region globally, with an impressive 2,030 plant species. Recent discoveries in the last five years include 65 types of orchids, a marsupial shrew, and a carnivorous plant exclusive to Ecuador. The fauna, equally diverse, features Amazonian species like spider monkeys, jaguars, and tapirs in the lowlands, while the highlands boast spectacled bears, night monkeys, and a unique marsupial mouse.
A Symphony of Nature: Amphibians, Birds, and Beyond
The Cordillera’s elevations serve as the source of streams nourishing the major rivers of southern Ecuador—Zamora, Santiago, and Namangoza. The humid atmosphere, fuelled by condensation, creates an optimal environment for diverse amphibians and birds. Noteworthy is the presence of endemic and unique species, adding to the region’s ecological significance.
Conservation in Isolation: El Quimi Biological Reserve
Within the Cordillera del Cóndor, El Quimi Biological Reserve stands as a testament to untouched beauty. However, it remains devoid of recreational and tourism services, lacking transportation routes. Access is limited to designated roads leading to the buffer zone, preserving the reserve’s pristine nature.
Embark on a journey to El Quimi Biological Reserve — a secluded haven where nature thrives undisturbed, inviting those with a passion for exploration and a commitment to conservation.