Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From the Field: A Very Hands-On Investigation of Ecotourism Opportunities in Cimarrones, Baeza, Ecuador

Volunteeer Alan Robinson exploring Cimarrones' biodiversity.
Alan Robinson, retired Community-Based Tourism Consultant hailing from Buena Vista, CO, will be wrapping up his 3-week trip to Ecuador in just a few days. Mr. Robinson has been in the Baeza region of Ecuador (2.5 hours SE of Quito) since November 14th, where he and host Noé Pinto of La Corporación Ecológica Cimarrones (Cimarrones Ecological Corporation) have been exploring sustainable and environmentally-friendly ecotourism opportunities for Baeza’s Cimarrones sector. Key objectives of Mr. Robinson’s visit include: completing an evaluation of the potential value of Cimarrones’ natural resources and biodiversity; providing recommendations on how to utilize these resources to initiate an ecotourism project; and connecting with other ecotourism companies in the region to discuss collaboration.

Last week, Mr. Robinson provided the following update from the field, describing the activities that he and Noé have carried out to-date. Enjoy!
Host, Noe Pinto, during a hike in Cimarrones.

"I think I may have discovered a potential mountain bike route that both Quito operators and yet-to-be-developed operators here in Baeza might take advantage of.  Has similarities to a very successful 15-year-old route developed commercially from La Paz in Bolivia up and over the Andes, which I helped out with.

We're now back from backpacking in the Cimarrones lands.  We managed to do all we had to in two days, although it was a tough trip. Many photos, many birds (45 identified by sight and another 10 heard, almost all by really great guides whom I hope we can integrate into future Corporación activities). Beautiful primary forest (Bosque Nublado), but so difficult to access that it's probably not conducive to the typical foreign birder groups who prefer short walks on beautifully maintained, mostly flat trails. Only the real fanatic birders would do what we just did, but there are some of those and it may still figure into the planning. But the Corporación is a legal entity which can develop activities outside of the forest, so we will likely focus on that. We've already visited several of the other activities: kayaking, birding lodges, scientific stations in the valley, and we have an idea of some other activities that might complement these. I met with Noe's father, who is the "godfather" of the whole process, which began as an agricultural coop over 40 years ago and has only recently morphed into the Corporación."

La Corporación Ecológica Cimarrones is a member-managed ecological organization that collectively owns 440 hectares of primary forest on the flanks of the Antisana Volcano in Ecuador’s Baeza region. Here, biodiversity is abundant, with species including the spectacled bear, black tucan, yellow-headed parrot, Andean ocelot, the polilepis tree, orchids, bromeliads, etc. The Corporation itself owns 9.8 hectares of land, while each of its members owns 33 hectares.

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