With its unique location in the cloud forest Santa Lucía has always been a hotspot for scientists and students. The lodge is located at around 1.950m, but the reserve stretches from 1.300m to 2.500m and while 80% of it is covered with pristine montane rain forest the existing trails allow for access to forest in all elevations. Santa Lucía is the perfect place to study not only the primary forest, but also successional vegetation (pastures, reforested areas and naturally-grown secondary forest). We have hosted and run dozens of projects over the last 15 years. Long-time relations with universities and researchers from all over the world enabled us to learn about the (wild)life in our reserve. We have also gained profound experience in hosting scientists and student groups. Not only do we offer lodging, food and logistics (travel arrangements, etc.), but our staff can also help with guidance and field work in the projects.

Below you find a selection of projects that our reserve has seen over the last years:

Camera trapping

The camera trapping project was initiated by Mika Peck ( University of Sussex http://www.sussex.ac.uk/lifesci/ebe/ ) in 2008. The goal is to monitor medium-sized and large mammal in the Santa Lucía reserve. Since 2016 we are running the project ourselves. Thanks to financial aid of CONDESAN http://www.condesan.org/portal/ we were able to purchase our own cameras and have our own staff doing the field work as well as the data analysis. More than twenty species of mammals have been observed over the years. Many of them, such as the Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) or the Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), are considered vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN list and have found a refuge in our reserve.

Bird Monitoring

Every year - usually during summer - we run and extensive bird monitoring in our reserve. For that we have more than 160 observation points in all elevations and forest types. The project is also financed by Mika Peck (University of Sussex www.condesan.org ) . Meanwhile we have data from eight years and it shows quite a few interesting changes in the composition of our avian species.
Thanks to this project our local guides received a lot of extra training and information on birding which we use to improve our tourist services

Hummingbird Research

In 2013 Santa Lucía – alongside with the near-by Maquipucuna reserve – was selected as research site for an investigation on hummingbirds. Its goal is to find out about interactions between hummingbirds and flowers - feeding and polination - and how they change during the different seasons. The project was initiated by Dr. Ben Weinstein (then [Stony Broke University]) and – in 2016 - was taken over and is now being extended by Catherine Graham. Over the years we've learnt a lot about hummingbird behavior and their seasonal movement as well as about flowering periods for the different hummingbird-related plants.

Student's Groups

During the last years we have become an established visitor's site for students' groups from all over the world. The Universities of Sussex www.sussex.ac.uk and Lincoln www.lincoln.ac.uk visit us every year for 8 to 10 day field courses in which the students learn about the cloud forest and carry out small projects in order to experience proper field work. Groups from several colleges in the US visit us through the School for International Training www.studyabroad.sit.edu or the Andean Study Center www.andeanstudy.org programs and learn about cloud forest ecology. Here we do not only provide lodging and food, but also guidance and in many cases logistics (purchase of equipment or pick-up and return-to Quito). The groups use our laboratory for their work, so that interference with our other guests is kept to a minimum.

Our volunteering program offers opportunities to:

  • Make an important contribution to conservation and sustainable development
  • Experience working in a tranquil, beautiful and biodiverse place in the cloud forest
  • Learn about the life in rural Ecuador with its opportunites and challenges
  • Create intercultural relationships with community members
  • Learn and improve the Spanish language

Volunteerin in Santa Lucía

  • Trail maintenance
  • Organic gardening
  • Agroforestry
  • Maintenance of our orchid garden
  • Maintenance of the lodge and other installations
  • Help with daily chores in tourism business
  • Help in scientific research projects

Volunteering in Santa Lucía

  • Since 2007, Saint Lucia has been working with volunteers in the Nanegal children's center thanks to the government's economic collaboration that supports the local community, the volunteers work directly with the children and have helped in the construction of games children outdoors, very necessary for the entertainment of them; Beautiful murals have been painted, initiative of some volunteers with this ability.

Voluntariado Santa Lucía

  • Santa Lucía fue anfitrión de cuatro equipos de científicos/voluntarios de Earthwach en el 2008, desarrollaron métodos de investigación en zonas remotas y recogieron datos sobre la flora y fauna del bosque, para saber en qué estado se encontraba este. Ha sido muy emocionante para el personal de Santa Lucía participar en este proyecto sobre todo con nuestros guías que son parte de esta investigación, ahora son muy buenos asistentes de campo para los estudios científicos actuales.
  • Con el apoyo de Rainforest Concern, Santa Lucía ha podido continuar con la investigación y supervisión de grandes mamíferos en peligro de extinción como son: el oso de anteojos (Tremarctos ornatus) y el puma (Puma concolor), con la ayuda de cámaras especiales que detectan el movimiento y capturan las imágenes.