Sacha Yacu Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center aims to preserve the biodiversity of the rainforest by stopping and preventing environmental resource destruction. We aim to achieve this by rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals that are in direct danger of being captured illegally by poachers, being treated inhumanely, or being kept or killed illegally. We also aim to educate both local and international communities on the importance of wildlife conservation through our effective, science-based research and rehabilitation programs, and by sharing our findings and knowledge with students worldwide via classes and internet media. Finally, we move to help the indigenous people find an alternative income in order to boost the local economy, and to avoid using the local non-renewable resources which exploit the environment.
For the last ten years, the Álvarez family has been working hard to increase their technical knowledge of animal rescue and rehabilitation, while overcoming the challenges associated with running an animal rescue center in Ecuador. The success and survival of the center greatly depends on the financial contribution made by volunteers who come and work with us.
Animal rescue centers and projects related to animals/plants/habitat conservation are highly important in Ecuador because of its huge biodiversity. Biodiversity in the Amazon region is decreasing rapidly due to persistent unsustainable human activities that highly threaten fragile ecosystems. The threats that we are currently facing include:
Habitat destruction through the expansion of mining, timber and oil industries. There is significant pressure to further develop infrastructures and agricultural boundaries for growing communities.
Illegal logging for the mentioned expansions, as well as the development of the country’s major petrol company.
Over hunting and illegal trade of wild animal and plant species for the purpose of commercialization of wild animal meat, constituent parts, and derivative products of wild species.
Water and air pollution.
In spite of these challenges, we have developed strong working relationships with the Environmental Police (UPMA) and the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador in the fight against wild animal trafficking and abuse. Locally, we work with two other rescue centers. We have received help from Sea World and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund who gave us a grant in 2008, which was used for the construction of an enclosure for Capuchin monkeys.
As Sacha Yacu is not a zoo, human interaction with animals is limited. The animals received at Sacha Yacu were illegally taken from the wild and sold as domestic pets. Wild animals do not make suitable domestic pets and often become depressed and/or aggressive; they are often abandoned to small cages or chained to posts. Animals at Sacha Yacu are kept in enclosures that replicate their natural habitats in order to improve the process of rehabilitation.
Sacha Yacu is located within the Ecuadorian rainforest in the eastern region of the country called “El Oriente” The closest small town is called El Triunfo, a mere 20 minute bus ride from the wildlife rescue. Although you will not find internet or phone access here (perhaps coming soon!), you can visit a couple of mom-and-pop type bars and shops to restock on snacks and mingle with the local people.
Another forty minutes down the road (at an hour ride on the bus from the center), you will find Puyo. Puyo is the largest local town and offers a variety of services like laundry facilities, loads of Internet cafes, bars, clubs, and shops. They even have a water park!
Puyo, also known as El Puyo, is the capital of Pastaza, a province in Ecuador. Puyo is located at an altitude of approximately 950 feet above sea level by the Puyo River, a tributary of the Pastaza River, which eventually leads into the Amazon River. True to its name, derived from the Quechua word for “cloudy”, the local climate is a wet one, with frequent daily downpours in a mix of sun and rain.
The main street of Puyo, c. 1900
Puyo was founded in 1899. Located between Baños, and the Amazonian cities of Tena and Macas, Puyo is the commercial, cultural and political capital of the region. The city is connected by road to Ambato,Tena, and Macas and from there to the major urban areas of Ecuador. In late 2006, the c ity had approximately 25,000 inhabitants. It was the fastest growing city in Ecuador in 2006.The seasonal changes in the climate are relatively small, and daytime temperature typically range between 18-24 °C, (64°F -75°F), though it can be quite a bit hotter mid-day.
A small airport is located in the small town of Shell, approximately 10 kilometres north-west of Puyo. Small aircraft, both private and commercial, depart daily to small airstrips in the Amazon Rainforest, and occasionally to Quito in the case of severe medical emergencies.
The Puyo Carnaval, a famous Ecuadorian holiday, is celebrated each year in the days leading up to Lent. The custom is to have small neighbourhood parties, and water fights are sometimes involved. Other major holidays are the Day of the Ecuadorian East Amazon on February 12, and the chonta-palm festival.
The permanent staff at Sacha Yacu is mainly, if not solely, comprised of the Alvarez family members. The entire family, and their eight children, often visit the grounds below their village home “arriba”, or up on the hill. This is where most of the work takes place, and where the animal enclosures are located. Currently, you will see the following three people at the Center every day:
Andrea Alvare- Directora
Raul Abad – Volunteer Coordinator & Biologist
How to Get Here
1. From Quito
– Schedule your flight to the main airport in Quito, Ecuador (our capital). The airport is called Mariscal Sucre International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre). The airport code is UIO.
– If you arrive in Quito after 12PM, it is recommended that you stay in a hostel or hotel the first night. Sunset is around 6PM year-round. There are many inexpensive and well-kept hostiles in Quito. The following suggested hostels do not have a special relationship with Sacha Yacu, but are located in Old City Quito, which is the most popular tourist area. They are both just a 15-minute cab ride from the airport and approximately 20 minutes to the main bus station. The cab in either direction will cost you approximately $6 USD.
Address: Olmedo 432 y los Rios (up the hill on Olmedo)
Phone: 593 2 316 3350 (landline) or 593 9 951 6687 (mobile)
Rate: $10 pp/night for a shared dorm accommodation
Address: N6-78 Pedro Fermin Cevallos and Olmedo (it is on Fermin Cevallos at the corner of Olmedo)
Phone: 593 5 904 9658
Rate: $10 pp/night for shared dorm accommodation
If you are looking for more luxurious accommodations for the night, there are a handful of hotels to choose from that are located very near the airport. Be advised, the prices range upwards of $60 a night.
2. From Quito to Puyo by Bus
Take a cab to Terminal Quitumbe – the main bus terminal in the very far south of Quito. Inside, you will find booths that sell tickets to every part of Ecuador. Find the booth for Puyo (it may also say, “El Oriente”). There are several bus companies that go there, and the buses leave as frequently as every 30 minutes. “San Francisco” is one of the better ones. Make sure you buy your ticket for the next departing bus (they may try to sell you something for a later bus). The ticket should not cost you more than $5-6 dollars. The ride is usually no less than 5 hours long. You will get two tickets — one to hand to the guard on your way out of the bus station, and one to show to the attendant on the bus once the bus starts moving.
To catch your bus, go outside to where the buses are parked, and find the assigned parking position (the # on your ticket). Try to be there 15 minutes early just in case the bus leaves ahead of the scheduled time.
– Be very careful with your bags in the bus terminal. Leave NOTHING out of sight, or unattended. It will be stolen.
– Also, there is usually no (working) toilet on the bus. It is $0.15 to use the WC in the bus terminal.
– Keep a watchful eye on your things in the bus. There will be tons of people getting on and off, and some of the towns you pass through will not be the safest.
– Don’t be surprised if the police stop the bus several times, and even get on the bus and walk around. This is normal procedure and is for your safety and benefit.
***Don’t worry – catching the bus is super easy! Just be careful like anywhere else.
3. From the Puyo Bus Terminal to the Wildlife Rescue (By Bus)
From the bus terminal of Puyo, until Sacha Yacu Wildlife Rescue Center (in Bus)
Once you get to the bus terminal in Puyo:
– Take a taxi to the next bus station, located within the city, tell the driver you want to take the bus to Arajuno,they will know exactly where is, maximum takes 5 minutes and costs $ 1.50, There are two transport offices 1(Sanfrancisco) y 2 (Centinela del oriente)
– Once at the station, go to the office to buy the tiket until km 35 direción Arajuno, it costs $ 1.85, and it takes 40 minutes to Sachayacu once on the bus tell the driver to drop you at kilometer 35, there is not official bus station, however see a sign of Sacha Yacu on the right side.
Note; it is advisable to call when you’re in Puyo, to be attentive to your arrival.
The bus schedule running from Puyo to Sacha Yacu
From the Puyo Bus Terminal to the Sacha Yacu (By Taxi)
You have the option of taking the taxi, all the way from Puyo to Sacha Yacu. The drive is about 30 minutes, and costs $25 USD. For the taxi, ask to go to Km 34 via Arajuno. Merge to the right towards Villano Paparagua and continue for 1km. Merge to the left towards San Virgilio and continue 1km. Look for the sign for Sacha Yacu on the right.
Arrival at Sacha Yacu – The Home Stretch!!!