Humitas and Baby Cow

Last Tuesday was an eventful time at La Hesperia. Corn was harvested on Monday to prevent some visiting parrots from eating it all. Everyone worked together to peel the corn and separate it between food for chickens food for humans. We reserved the very best corn and husks for making humitas, a traditional food of Ecuador. The husks were left out for the rest of the day to dry, and Elsa worked in the kitchen to cut the corn off the cob. After she had finished with that, we worked to grind the corn into a paste. Once this step was completed, we took the paste into the kitchen where Elsa helped us turn the corn goo into a delicious mixture ready to be cooked. Half the corn paste was mixed with cheese and salt for savory humitas and the other half with cheese, milk, and sugar for the sweet humitas. Then the mixtures were ready to cook, so we spooned them into the corn husks we had saved from the previous day and wrapped them up like a present. First we cooked the savory humitas, and then the sweet ones, by stacking them in a pot with water at the bottom to let them steam. When they were ready, Elsa let us sample them. Yum! Humitas are easy to make and very delicious, so I think many of us will be taking this recipe back to our home countries. A bit later in the morning, one of the cows gave birth to a calf. He is adorable and seems to he doing very well! We watched as he learned to take his first steps. He would get just barely off his feet and then fall to the ground, over and over again, but he finally managed to find his grounding and take a few steps. The mama cow was very aware of the humans (and dog) near her and her baby, but she remained calm and let us watch the whole thing. What an awesome day!

imageimage image image image image image image

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Announcing the TVL program! (travel, learn, volunteer)

We are pleased to now offer the 2015 TVL programs! Visitors will have the opportunity to learn all about conservation and sustainability while living in the lush cloud forest. Some activities include hiking, milking cows, making chocolate and coffee, and much much more! And don´t forget to share this exciting new opportunity with all your friends!

  • 14 and 8 day programs are available from June 22-July 5 and Aug 3-Aug 10, 2015
  • Contact:

*Groups of 5 or more can choose their own program dates if the dates listed above are not suitable*

TVL poster

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hiking up the Rio Tupi

IMG_20140816_093227367Rio Tupi is one of two small rivers on the La Hesperia property and is far more accessible. Whether your hiking up from the town of La Esperie or taking one of the two trails in from the farm area, Rio Tupi always makes for an exciting and enjoyable hike.

Although no wider than a driveway, this tiny river offers a pristine ecosystem, more waterfalls than you can count, a natural water-slide, and breathtaking photography options. A few days ago, I hiked up the river from the town all the way to the big waterfall; taking pictures all the way.

2014-06-13 005The first jaw-dropping sight: when you turn the corner and the valley opens up revealing the shear cliff shooting hundreds of feet up and wrapping around like a giant theater, absolutely amazing!












The seeps around the base of the cliff deposit a very nice orange-brown paint pigment, we use it for painting the outdoor kitchen and other areas around the Reserve.IMG_20140816_093355909

One of the uncountable small waterfalls on the way up. these were a series of three, dropping into each other like a fountain.IMG_20140816_095705101_HDR


IMG_20140816_095905293The first big waterfall. This one is about 15 feet high and curls around a gorge, flushing everything out and smoothing the cliff walls to a gloss.













Further up, a bird-of-paradise flower growing up from a gravel bar in the middle of the river.IMG_20140816_103111567


At last, the big waterfall: dropping 20 feet onto a small intermediate shelf, than another 6 feet to its lower plunge pool. One of the most spectacular sights on La Hesperia!















I found this crab in the intermediate shelf, I thought it was an interesting find; sandwiched between two impassible waterfalls.IMG_20140816_105929859_HDR


The upper fall by itself.IMG_20140816_104538745



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


OK, so everyone that’s been to La Hesperia has seen them, although not always by choice. Today’s blog is all about the various creepy-crawlers that have been found around the reserve.

Tarantula near her den, which is under the foundation of the volunteer house, very comforting

Tarantula near her den, which is under the foundation of the volunteer house, very comforting

Giant butterfly. That tree is about the size of a telephone pole!

Giant butterfly. That tree is about the size of a telephone pole!

One of the many giant millipedes…..harmless….I think…..

A walking stick on a coffee plant, about a month ago

A walking stick on a coffee plant, about a month ago


Oh yes, the catapillers, we still have plenty of them….eveywhere

Probably the prettyist grasshopper out there…this one was hanging out in the bathroom of the volunteer house back in May

Tarantula Hawk looking for his next meal. Near the outdoor kitchen in July.

Tarantula Hawk looking for his next meal. Near the outdoor kitchen in July.

Always a favorite; the harmless looking caterpillar whose slightest touch feels like a thousand burning needles going into your skin

Always a favorite; the harmless looking caterpillar whose slightest touch feels like a thousand burning needles going into your skin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The not so Distant Past at La Hesperia

La Hesperia has been receiving volunteers since 2004 and we are extremely grateful for everything you have contributed to the reserve and a helping us achieve our goals. Below are some photos taken by former and current volunteers, enjoy:

The Nursery in October 2011

2014-06-25 035

The Nursery in June 2014. Expanded to 3 shade houses and with 4000 little coffee plants being raised.

Taking the milk down the hill in 2011. We still do it this way….but only when the Jeep breaks down.

Building the plastic bottle wall for the school in 2012

The same wall and classroom in April of 2014. Very Nice!

lahesperia 035

Playing football in March 2005.

Same view of the football field in 2014…now with the school. (we still do football here…it just wasn’t Wednesday)

The volunteer house going up in 2005.

….and as it looks today!

Thank You to all of our volunteers, past, present and future!!!!!










Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

3-Toed Sloth Released at La Hesperia




On Tuesday, we received a new member here at La Hesperia. A 3-toed sloth was found during work on the hydro-electric project along the Rio Pilaton and was released on the reserve. La Hesperia has an agreement with the hydro-electric project to serve as a sanctuary for animals found during construction.

10443499_10152466942014718_2082008037116982303_n  Sleeping on the truck ride up

IMG_20140708_140650617[1] There was lots of excitement when he showed up.

IMG_20140708_140901123[1] Walking out to the release site

10442518_10152466942259718_4950382735843049896_n….and time to go…

IMG_20140708_141550407[1]Much happier now!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Push for Coffee


Things are going to be changing here at La Hesperia. The national push for more coffee production has created a huge opportunity for the preserve; allowing us to covert some of our land dedicated to cattle over to coffee cultivation. The process has already begun with the planting of some 6,000 coffee seedlings in our nursery. The plan through 2014 is to get 5 hectares of young coffee planted with each hectare requiring 2,500 plants (anybody want to help?). La Hesperia is using the coffee variety ‘tipica mejorada,’ a high quality Arabica variety used for gourmet coffee blends. 16JUN14 075

By converting our old pastures over to coffee la Hesperia is better able to conserve the cloud forest. A pasture full of cows increases runoff, pollutant and sediment loads as well as failing to retain precipitation like surrounding forest can. By converting these pastures to long rotation coffee, the soil will be better retained and vegetative cover will be improved, leading to stabilized rainfall to runoff ratios ( Knighton, Fluvial Forms & Process, 1998). The result won’t be as good as natural cloud forest but will certainly be an improvement over dairy cows.16JUN14 072

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment