la poza The Guaycuyacu river forms waterfalls and pools as it moves downstream


RESERVA RIO GUAYCUYACU is a family farm at the junction of two rivers in the rainforested foothills of northwestern Ecuador. Location: E 0º 13' N, 78º 55' W.; elevation: 500-700 m above sea level; annual rainfall: 2700 mm.  Temperatures range between 16-31º C.  year-round. Our land includes 12 hectares of primary forest (adjacent and  other large areas of native forest nearby), with remaining acreage in croplands, pasture and second-growth forest. The Rio Guaycuyacu flows down between steep forested cockscomb ridges, in waterfalls and pools before being joined by the Rio Guayllabamba.

Resident animals include monkey, ocelot, jaguarundi, kinkajou, tayra, agouti; spiders and snakes, butterflies and beetles. 200+ species of birds are on our list of sightings, among them four species of toucans. Characteristic plants include copal, rubber, pambil palm, tree fern, passion flowers, orchids, and bromeliads.

CCOMMODATIONS: Besides the main house there are two cabins, each with a living area and individual rooms. We have good drinking water from a nearby spring, and grid electricity backed up with a solar panel. There are swimming holes in the river only a few minutes’ walk from the house. We enjoy good food, mostly vegetarian. Meals feature farm produce, including chocolate, tempeh, and tropical fruits from our orchards.

Some of the over 600 species of tropical fruits harvested at Rio Guaycuyacu

WHO WE ARE:We are a couple who have been living and farming in South America for 40 years. We love Ecuador and our isolated, self-sufficient lifestyle in the rainforest. We are also active in conservation and local community activities, founding members of the CNBRPE, the national private forests network (, work within Quito’s Mashpi/Pachijal protected Areas for Conservation and Sustainable Use (ACUS) for the conservation of watershed, environmental well-being, and sustainable community development, and are a member Garden of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

ACCESS: From Quito, it's 3-5 hours by road in bus, then on foot to the Reserve.    



Scientists who come here to do research are among our favorite visitors, giving us an opportunity to discover and learn more about our area. Larger native forest areas are adjacent and nearby the Reserve, generally at somewhat higher elevations (to 800 meters or more), and there is ample indoor space for living, office work, and samples/equipment.             Cost is US$15 per day including meals.

CONTACT us by using the APPRENTICESHIP APPLICATION FORM, below.  Scientists need not fill in most of those boxes, but do please tell us something about yourself and your specific field of interest here!   Internet is spotty, so please contact us well in advance, and be patient.


AGRICULTURE: Most of the 8 hectares of cultivated land at Rio Guaycuyacu is planted in fruit trees from all over the tropical world, over 500 different species. New species and varieties are constantly being added and propagated. Our interest is in sustainable agriculture, using cover crops, alley cropping, and selective regeneration. Besides the orchards and nursery, there is a vegetable garden, other subsistence crops, and ornamental, culinary and medicinal plants.

WORK: We would expect you to work in the mornings, usually with us, at farm tasks. The machete is the main agricultural tool, but farm chores are varied and include seed collection and processing (aka picking fruit and eating it!) orchard and nursery work, food preparation (making jams, vinegar, chocolate, bread, tempeh etc.), construction (often using native materials like palm and bamboo), crafts, botany and natural history, gardening. We encourage you to participate in both household and community life. Your stay could, if you wish, include some time spent living and working with any of several campesino neighbor families on their farms nearby. They raise cattle, pigs & chickens, grow subsistence crops and cacao, and have much local knowledge and love of nature. You may also choose to work on your own projects, and you will have plenty of free time.


COMMITMENT is for a minimum of one month. Cost is $300 per month.


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CONTACT us.  One of us comes to Quito about every 1-2 weeks. Internet service is sometimes spotty. Please contact us well in advance, and be patient.