The Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge, lying an easy distance outside of Quito, is a 500 hectare protected area surrounding the Pasochoa Volcano crater. While several vegetation zones occur within the refuge, much of the vegetation is that of the Andean Sierra. What makes the Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge so unique is that the area surrounding the Pasochoa volcano retains characteristics of the authentic Sierra ecosystem without the footprints and introduced species of the Spanish.
The Pasochoa Volcano’s previous eruption blanketed the area in thick volcanic ash which in turn facilitated the fertility of the area. The rich forests and grasslands surrounding the area now support around 232 plant species—23 of which are orchid varieties—as well as 52 species of medicinal plants that are a significant part of the local’s medical supplies. Several large mammals also live on the relatively small refuge including the puma, white-tailed deer, and the Andean fox. The bird life is the refuge’s real draw for visitors, however. Even if birding isn’t your specialty, you can enjoy the bright foliage of the 14 species of hummingbirds that live on the refuge as well as tanagers, falcons, kestrels, and pygmy owls.
While visitors are able to see the diverse wildlife and flora on the many hiking trails throughout the refuge, they can also visit the Pasochoa Environmental Education Center to learn about the ecosystem and its conservation as well as about the volcano that had such a profound effect on the landscape.