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Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve




Location: 17 km (10 mi) North from Quito, Pichincha Province   Map

Area: 3383 hectares




Description of Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is located 17 km (10 mi) North from Quito, in Pichincha Province of Ecuador. Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve covers a total area of 3383 hectares in north-western part of the Pomasqui Valley. Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is situated in the mountainous region with elevation ranging from 1800 to 3400 meters (5906-11011 ft) above sea level and average temperatures of 13-15 ° C throughtout a year. The name of the natural park comes from the local Quichua dialect and translated as a "cloud water". One of the most popular tourist destination is a mount Pululahua after which the reserve takes its name. It is an extinct volcano, those three domes tower over surrounding lands.





The Andes has more than 2900 endemic species, many of these are found in Pululahua and for this reason, it is now a Geobotanical Reserve. Dense tree vegetation has a lot of mosses, ferns, lichens, bromeliads, and orchids.

In the areas of montane mist forest in gallery (1800–2000 masl): typical vegetation of this area can be found as: Ficus subandina, Ficus cuatrecasana (Moraceae); guarumos (Cecropia maxima), compadre (Toxicodendron striatum), quishuar (Buddleja bullata), chalvo (Zanthoxylum fagara), pumamaqui (Oreopanax confusum) and huicundos (Tillandsia fraseri, Tillandsia omplanata).

In the areas of montane mist forest (1800–3000 masl) you can find typical vegetation of this area such as: palm (Prestoea acuminata), myrtle (Myrcianthes alaternifolia), orange (Palicourea padifolia), avocado (Persea mutisii) , magnolia (Ocotea sericeae), platanillo (Heliconia impudica), chontilla (Cyathea pallescens), May flower (Tibouchina lepidota), pucsi (Anturium sp.) and moya (Chusquea subulata).

In the areas of scrubland of mountain rock mist (2200–2400 masl): typical vegetation of this area can be found such as: taglli (Pernnettya prostrata), gualicones (Psammisia sp.), Sigse (Cortaderia nitida), puyas (Puya sp. ), selaginelas (Selaginella sp.), lycopodia or venison (Lycopodium sp.) and alder Alnus acuminata subsp. acuminata).

In the montane semi-dry scrubland areas (2400–2600 masl): typical vegetation of this area can be found such as: Satureja stachyodes (Lamiaceae), tilingohembra (Arcythophyllum thymifolium), mosquera (Croton pycnanthus), yanango (Cordia latanoides), Dog venom (Bomarea microcephala), moradilla (Altherhanthera sp.), accompanied by species from the Poaceae family, Bromeliaceae, Orchidaceae and various ferns.

In the montane humid thicket areas (2400–3000 masl): typical vegetation of this area can be found such as: orchids (Elleanthus grastroglottis, Elleanthus sodiroi, Elleanthus gracillis), gualicones (Maclenia cordifolia), chilca (Baccharis teindalensis), bromeliad ( Pitcairnia pugnes), fuchsia (Fuchsia dependedens) and anthurium (Anthurium incurvatum).

In the areas of evergreen montane high forest (3000–3356 masl): typical vegetation of this area can be found such as: palm of bouquets (Ceroxylon parvifrons), tarqui (Hedyosmum luteynii), moya (Chusquea subulata), Sessea vestita (Solanaceae) , Oligactis sp. (Asteraceae), Ephedra rupestris (Ephedraceae), spearhead (Columnea strigosa) and bromeliads (Tillandsia lajensis and Racinaea homostachya).

More than five hundred years of human existence in the volcano have decreased the population of wildlife. There is no formal study of wildlife but we know of the existence of the following mammals: Sciurus granatensis (squirrel), Sylvilagus brasiliensis (rabbits); Rufina apple; (fruit bats), Lycalopex culpaeus (culpeo fox), puma (mountain lion), Tremarctos ornatus (Andean Bear), Dasypus Novemcinctus (armadillo), Mustela frenata (Weasel).

There is also a wide variety of insects including a numerous representation of beautiful butterflies, and some reptiles and amphibians such as: Leimadophis albivendris (Boa), Proctoporus unicolor (Lizard), Pholidobulus (Lizard), and Gastrotheca sp (Green toad).

There are numerous birds such as: Penelope montagnii (Pava de monte), Columba fasciata (Torcaza), Zenaida auriculata (Tortola), Rupicola peruviana (Rock Rooster), Pharomachrus sp. (Guajalito), Buteo polyosoma (Guarro), Stretotoprocne zonaris (Swift-Condor), Zonootrichia capensis (Sparrow).

Temperature: 0 to 27 ° C
Annual Precipitation: between 500 and 3000 mm


Hacienda Pululahua: farm built by the Spaniards in 1825 and was managed by the Dominican Fathers. They were in charge of the exploitation of the abundances of this boiler until 1905. The people who are now elderly and who are descendants of this era say that the Indians were mistreated and punished with the whip for their mistakes and sins.

El Pondoña: it is a lava dome formed in an eruption 500 years after the volcano collapsed. There is also a small crater on the eastern top (front) part of the dome. This summit has a path that gives access to the area of ​​the back hill. The views from this top are fabulous. The path that leads to its summit passes through a hill that is covered with Epidendrum quitensium.

El Chivo: it is a small lava dome in the southern part of the crater, which ends at a small peak. There is a path with access to the summit where there is space for two tents. The trail begins in the area of ​​the water tanks for the community. There is also a path that continues south, without going up to Chivo, until it reaches the river basins. Here you will find many water tanks used to trap the mountain water that condenses in the cloud forest. Please do not dirty the water, be careful not to cause any damage to this fragile ecosystem and water collection area.

The Lime Kilns: the extraction of calcium carbonate or lime was the main economic activity and the most remembered by the ancient inhabitants of the area. They say that many people worked in this trade, it was like the gold rush since the value of lime was very high. The ancients, like Don Miguel Chipantaxi, still say that the lime came out twice a day, once in the morning, and again at noon. All the lime was loaded on the back of a mule and transported to San Antonio. Each furnace produced 20 to 40 bags of lime per day, which means that herds of ten to twenty mules passed through the boiler every day. So far we have found twelve limestone kilns in the Pululahua area. These are rock structures 3 to 5 m high and have an inner diameter of 1.5 to 2 meters, they resemble a round chimney. The limestone was mined and removed from the walls, then transported by mules in the oven. The oven was loaded with several layers of wood and limestone, then the fire was initiated by the lower part of the oven. Fire helped to consume inorganic materials and purify calcium carbonate. The oven remained on all the time, and pure lime descended to the bottom where it was collected in covers after a period of cooling. When one layer of wood was consumed, all other layers descended by breaking the limestone against the metal bars at the bottom of the oven. At this point more layers of stone and wood were loaded to keep the oven on. Lime was used in the construction of churches and colonial Quito. Lime was mixed with water and an adhesive to make a paint used for bleaching, this paint is also used today. Almost all the walls of the current colonial Quito are painted white with this material. Lime was also mixed with sand, water and clay to make a material used to join the rocks; Something similar to cement. For this reason lime was also used for the construction of rock walls. The importance of these basic building materials, for a growing city like Quito, made lime very important and expensive.

Horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking are the most popular activities in Pululahua volcano. The crater of this extinct volcano offers many trails where different ecosystems are found from the moor, to the cloud forest. Most of these trails have been traveled for 1000 years by the ancient inhabitants of this region starting with the Yumbos, the Caranquis, the Incas, and also the Spaniards who built the Pululahua Hacienda.

Inside, at the center of the Pululahua volcano between the Pondoña and El Chivo dome, there are some large stones aligned with the shape of the "el chivo" dome that indicate the position of the sun in Solstício December 21, when the sun rises through the sector, indicate the ancestral knowledge of the lands in the middle. according to Boris Ullauri M. 2012 archaeological and astronomical study.


The most important archaeological site of the Yumbos is in Tulipe which is 29 km southwest of Pululahua. This place is connected to the crater by paths that cross through the reserves of Maquicupuna and Santa Lucia. The Caranquis were also very close to the crater about 15 km to the Northeast where there is a pyramid in the Alance area. This pyramid is connected to the Pululahua by ancient roads that go to the edge of the Guallabamba River. The Incas also used these roads known as Culuncos to infiltrate the Yumbos and Caranquis territories. The Spaniards used the Culuncos in their multiple expeditions to conquer the Yumbos territories and the province of Esmeraldas. Many of these ancient roads are in use until now and some of these trails have been destroyed by road construction.