The Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve is located between the provinces of Esmeraldas and Imbabura. It was created on August 29, 1968.
The reserve has a temperature between 25 and 15 Celsius degrees. Has an area of 204,420 hectares distributed in the Zona Alta and Zona Baja into a territory that covers 23,954 km2, corresponding 15,000 km2 to Esmeraldas and 8956 km2 to Imbabura, this last one is within the Cotacachi Canton.
The top of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve includes, at the east area , Imbabura and some towns like Cuellaje, Piñán, Vacas Galindo. That’s why it’s considered the sixth largest protected area in Ecuador.
Also includes, in the surrenders, the communities Pucalpa, Peribuela, Quitumbe, Morlan, Corimbuela, Parafan, El Cercado, Alambuela, San Pedro, Azaya, Topo Grande, Topo Chico, Itaqui, Morochos, Chilcapamba, Andraví and Morales Chupa. Besides, the reserve includes three indigenous communities and three ex large farmsteads in the area of the moor, which corresponds to the central part, core of the protected area.
The Reserve has ten areas of life, five in the top or Cotacachi, which are technically defined as: 1) Sub-alpine rain moor: 3,500 and 4,000 meters. Grasslands. 2) Montane Rain Forest: 2,800 to 3,800 meters. Cloudy. 3) Montane wet forest, 2,800 and 3,500. Pasture for cattle. 4) Lower montane rain forest: 1,600 to 2,800. Medium-sized trees and shrubs. 5) Low montane wet forest: 1,800 to 2,800. Trees with epiphytes.
The ecological zones into the Reserve preserve great diversity by maintaining the flow of water from the rivers Cayapas and Santiago, and in the upper zone, the Yanayacu, Pichambide, Pichavi and Ambi rivers. The Toisán Range, which crosses all the natural reserve, has a considerable number of birds and mammals and a variety of plant species.
The Ecological Reserve Cotacachi Cayapas has a vast region that includes parts of the coast region and mountain region, each with its own access roads.
One road is through the Lake Cuicocha, known as tourist spot in the area, located 12 km. from the population of Cotacachi.
Through the road to Cuicocha you can visit the upper region of Cotacachi Cayapas, besides being able to climb the Cotacachi volcano.
The second main road is located in the town of Bourbon, 130 km. from the city of Esmeraldas on the coast of Ecuador.