Pululahua reserve is the only protected area in the country that has been denominated a “Geobotanical Reserve” due to its geology and biodiverse ecosystem. The reserve is located only 17 km away from Quito, near the monument of the Middle of the World and it is a vast region covered by clouds coming from the Pacific Ocean. Underneath the clouds and mist, rich vegetation (nurtured by moisture) covers the slopes of a volcanic crater located close to the equator! Pululahua is certainly an energetically charged region, and it draws thousands of visitors every year to venture into its natural wonders.
The name Pululahua, meaning “cloud of water” in Quichua, describes the prominent caldera that gives the park its name, as it is usually covered in fog. The caldera, which is almost 4km wide and has a horseshoe shape, resulted from a volcano that collapsed after its magma was emptied during volcanic eruptions. Inside the caldera there are three hills or lava domes known as Pondoño, El Chivo, and Pan de Azucar.
Tip: the best place to observe the caldera is Ventanillas!
Pondoña and El Chivo
Pondoña, 2.975m above sea level, and El Chivo, standing at 2.698m above sea level, have trails that lead to the summit. Also, near Pondoña, to the west, you can enjoy bathing in thermal mineral waters in El Pailón near Blanco or white river.
Several trails and a picnic area are the best plan for families who wish to enjoy a walk through the Andean region, appreciating its lush flora and fauna of the reserve. This area has basic amenities including bathrooms and two cabanas.
Within the cauldron, in the agricultural area of Pululaua, a community better known as San Isidro, is settled. Here, you will find a rather small community of old farmers and families, and you can find some guiding for recreational activities.
What to do:
Hiking: The reserve is optimal for hiking because of its fantastic views, green hills and impressive flora and fauna.
Camping: There are various spots in the reserve where you can go camping, and if you follow some of the established trials, you’ll stumble upon perfectly comfortable areas to camp at night.
Bicycle rides: If you love biking, you can take your bike and follow the dirt trails for a fun and rewarding adventure.
Photography: You cannot forget your camera when visiting Pululahua! You’ll want to capture everything from the tiniest insects, to the most exotic orchids and the peculiar pumamaquis.
Flora and Fauna:
This area was declared a “Geobotanical Reserve” due to it´s vegetation. Over 60 species of orchids and bromeliads have been found in the area. You can also appreciate pumamaquis, zapatitos, colcas, zagalitas, and sigses (among others.)
Over 150 bird species, such as quilicos, mirlos, hirachuros, hummingbirds, and wild turkeys are found in Pululahua, among mammals such as wolves, skunks, spectacled bears, squirrels and possums. You could also run into lizards, snakes and toads!
How to get there:
From Quito: Take Quito-Calacalli route, for 6 km after passing the monument of the Middle of the World, and you will drive through a road with gas stations to its right (the area is named Caspigasi), where you will find a detour to the right. If you follow the road for approx. 1.2 km you will reach Ventanillas lookout.