Peribuela Primary Forest
Conservation Project
Cantón Cotacachi, Imbabura

Peribuela is a small agricultural community of about 450
indienous people of pre-Inca Caranqui descent located
at 2450 meters (8085 feet) on the northeastern flank of
the Cotacachi Volcano in Imbabura Province.

Like most agricultural communities in modern Ecuador,
Peribuela was a hacienda until the land reforms of the
1960s. With the land redistribution that resulted from the
reforms, the people of Peribuela have gradually been
able to improve their quality of life through the control of
crop planning and sales, crop diversification, and
successfully lobbying the government for electricity,
irrigation, and a primary school. Still, people in Peribuela
are very poor and most of the community's young
people leave for Quito, Spain, or the USA to search for

Seeing the need for new forms of economic
development in the community, the people of Peribuela
began to develop an eco-tourism project to create jobs
and capital that can be reinvested in development

The result was the establishment of the
Bosque Primario
a 1040 hectare stand, 330 of which is old-
growth, native Andean forest. This is one of the last
patches of ancient, high-altitude forest left in the Andes
and contains many endangered tree species like
Pumamaqui and Guatze, dozens of orchid species and
abundant bird-life. The forest also serves as an
important habitat corridor between remnant patches of
mountain forest ecosystem and the high altitude páramo

Within the forest, the community has constructed a large
choza (traditional Andean grass roofed structure) that
can accomodate large groups for meals and
presentations, and two interpretive trails (2 and 4 hours)
that community guides use to teach visitors about the
natural history of the area. Peribuela also has a
fantastic performance group that presents folkloric
dance, music and theater.

Besides conserving a remnant of this extremely
important ecosystem, the eco-tourism project is
providing jobs and community capital for the people of
Peribuela. An elected eco-tourism board manages the
project democratically and all capital (besides the salary
of cooks and guides) is directly reinvested in community
development initiatives.

Plans for the near-future also include the construction of
several eco-cabins deep within the forest and the
establishment of community-run orchid and native tree
nurseries as economic development projects. There is
also an ongoing reforestation project on communal
lands using native, high-altitude species.

To read more about the history, culture, and ecology of
Peribuela, click here:

Peribuela: A People and their Forest
A Guide for Visitors

Many different program options can be arranged for
groups or individuals in Peribuela. Visitors stay in a
spacious 20-bed dormitory in the refurbished hacienda
house. The hacienda house also has hot showers,
kitchen and dining facilities for large groups, an orchid
green house, beautiful gardens, and great views of the

Day-trips or long-term stays can be arranged for
students, tourists, hikers, or researchers.

Peribuela's standard weekend package looks like this:

Day 1- Lunch at the Hacienda; Presentation about the
history of the community and project; Walking tour of the
community, visiting farms, Caranqui archeology sites,
and family's in their houses; Dinner.

Day 2- Breakfast; guided natural history walk of the
Lower Forest Trail (old-growth forest and water fall);
Lunch at the Choza; walk of the Upper Trail (sacred
Caranqui ceremonial site; Valley of the Orchids); Dinner
and Noche Cultural with folkloric music and dance.

Day 3- Breakfast and farewell ceremony.

COST: $60 per person (does not include transport to
and from Peribuela)

The Peribuela Eco-tourism Project is actively looking for
individuals who have knowledge of, or can help in, the
following areas.

  • Tourism public relations
  • Botany and/or plant species identification and
  • Trail design and maintenance
  • Carpentry and ecological-design concepts
  • Native species reforestation and tree nursery
  • Orchids
  • Community solid waste management
  • Historical and ethnographic documentation

CONTACT Peter Shear for more information:

in Ecuador: 086-849-950

To read more about the history, culture, and ecology of
Peribuela, click here:

Peribuela: A People and Their Forest
A Guide for Visitors
Inter-American Center for the Arts, Sustainability,and Action

 Centro Interamericano para las Artes, el Sustento, y la Acción