La Hesperia Project
Adventure, Company News, Expedition News | 1st October 2017
The journey from Quito to La Hesperia is little more than a couple of hours and yet it may as well be a different world. From the clear blue skies, thin air, and hustle and bustle of the capital city clinging to the heights of the Andes; to the humid, mist laded cloud-forest descending into the depths of roaring gorges. The first demonstrates the power of Man, the highest capital in the world and one of the best preserved historic centres of the Americas. The second belongs to Nature, with 3 different types of forest, 292 species of bird, 40 species of mammal and 63 genera of butterflies, it is a natural haven where Man should tread carefully.
The bus from Quito
passes through Recinto la Esperie which is a little town at the foot of the rise
to the Nature Reserve. A few shacks and a couple of cafes along the newly
tarmacked road give little indication of the activities behind the wall of
The welcome talk will give students an overview of what La Hesperia is
striving for and what motivates those who work there before they get stuck in
to their tasks and become an important part of the day-to-day activities. La
Hesperia is much more than a place to visit and learn about sustainability, it
is about the students living whilst they are learning. Volunteer houses are
built from local or recycled wood and are basic but comfortable, students will
share rooms of up to 6 people and there is also the possibility of camping.
Three meals a day are provided for the students by the cook in the communal
kitchen however students will get involved where they can and washing up is
taken in turns.
Days spent at La Hesperia will be full and varied. Between a mixture of
different tasks, challenges and learning opportunities, there is never a dull
moment. These tasks may include working in the organic garden, making organic
fertilizers and pesticides, coffee production, organic chocolate making,
working with horses, feeding the farm animals, making fences, harvesting and
mulching in the banana field, working in the tree nursery, reforestation,
making bamboo constructions and learning about how all these activities play a
part in the running of La Hesperia. There will also be time in the evening for
students to relax and enjoy their surroundings whilst feeling completely
engrossed in Nature and the incredible atmosphere of the cloud-forest.
Stepping through the stone arch which marks the entrance, the main hub of La Hesperia project is a steep hike of about 1.5km up the jungle lined dirt track.
At the top of the hill the jungle thins and plantations appear to the left and right before a small collection of buildings: volunteer houses, the communal kitchen and Alexandra’s house who is the Director of La Hesperia. The Reserve Administrator Diego, a former restaurant owner turned sustainable agriculture advocate, welcomes volunteers to the Reserve.
The aims of La Hesperia Nature Reserve are clear, yet cover diverse aspects of sustainability, production, conservation, tourism and education. Taken from their volunteer pack the objectives are as follows:
· Protecting existing forest.
· Maintaining the reserve as an IBA (Important Bird Area).
· Working towards sustainable development (via agriculture and eco-construction).
· Creating programs to foster community development.
· Restoring degraded areas within and outside the reserve.
· Educating the public about conservation and ecology.
· Conducting biological/ecological research.
· Sharing our experiences with nature enthusiasts, local communities and volunteers.
Work will be challenging, physical and fascinating; in return La Hesperia will give the students the chance to come together as a team, learn new skills. A week spent at La Hesperia will be unforgettable and leave students with first-hand experience of sustainable production in a developing country and an increased awareness of the environment and the difficulties it faces. Not only this but students will have made new friends, had fun and will hopefully have improved their Spanish!