The Pasochoa natural reserve is composed by humid Andean shrub forest around an extinct volcano crater. At the wildlife refuge there are seven different paths to follow, one of them leading to the volcano itself.
This beautiful Andean location is about 40 kilometers south of Quito (approximately 1 hour and a half from Quito), it is a biological reserve that makes for a pleasant day trip.
This reserve is located near the town of Amaguaña. The road from Quito to Amaguaña is excellent, but from there to Pasochoa the road is narrow and in bad state, so a 4x4 vehicle or a pickup truck is strongly advised.
It will take you around 30 minutes to arrive by car and more than 2 hours if you decide to walk (from Amaguaña to the Pasochoa refuge).
Pasochoa itself is an extinct volcano and with its 4200 meters height is a nice location for a high altitude day hike.
It is set in a delightful biological reserve that provides many interesting opportunities for the nature lover and hiker.
There are seven different easy to follow trails laid out for visitors. Some of them grow in difficulty if you want to reach summit.
The volcano can be climbed without technical mountain climbing equipment but some level of fitness is required to achieve it. The trail is straight forward and well marked.
The path originates in high grasses and as you ascend it turns into loose rock. The trail is easily visible to the false summit and the true summit.
Other trails are anywhere from an hour to a few hours and most including hiking through the cloud forest in the area. Since this is a wildlife reserve, there is an enormous volume of interesting flora and fauna for you to observe, and to photograph as well.
Birdwatchers can look out for the 16 hummingbird species, as well as Andean Condors, huirac-churos, wild mountain turkeys, turtledoves and more.
If you are a nature lover you will enjoy spotting deer, Brazilian rabbits, pumas, skunks, bats, toads and frogs.
There are two different kind of lodging services in the refuge:
Small Lodges: with a capacity for 20 persons and the following accommodations, folding beds, private bathrooms, kitchen-dinning room and basic infrastructure.
Camping Area: with a capacity for 30 tents and bathroom facilities for the area.
You will also find 10 huts for barbecues. A dining room with capacity for 50 persons. There are also around 9 guides who are in charge of hikes around the footpaths.
This biological reserve covers a significant area, and on reaching the top of the volcano, or even close to it, it is possible to get excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
The diversity of species is incredible. For example there are 127 species of birds, 232 of flora including medicinal plants and 10 species of mammals.
In a clear day, it is possible to see the Cotopaxi Volcano, which is the highest active volcano in the world. The countryside encompasses forested areas at the lower levels, while higher up, the landscape is mainly moorlands.
The Pasochoa was declared a Protected Area in 1982, and years later because of the scientific importance it was declared a Wild Life Refuge in 1996, becoming part of the National System of Protected Areas of Ecuador.