Nature Reserve & Biological Station
Testimonials & Guestbook
Simply a life changing experience
For the preparation of my environmental sciences studies at university, I thought it would be a good idea to get some work experience and spend some time in nature. I stumbled across this place in the internet and applied for three months of volunteering.
I worked with Wilo, Christian and Leo everyday. All three of them are very funny, so no day of work went without laughter and giggles. I learned so much from Wilo, he was like a mentor to me and taught me about the jungle, it’s maintenance and woodcarving. I even acquired gardening and cooking skills.
In our free time all the interns and volunteers would come together go on jungle adventures, trek to a waterfall hike. We would wake up early to see birds and stay up late to try and find anything living and moving, e.g. like an armadillo. One of my favorite things was to learn from Nicole, Wilo and Laura about all the birds and spend the morning bird banding. I learned so incredibly much and I’m so grateful that there’s people in this world like Wilo and Nicole, who spend everyday protecting it!
This is a truly magical place, it’s beyond beautiful! You’re right there in this mystical so pure and untouched paradise.
I miss Wilo, Nicole, Toga, Klecks and Bagira so much. Can’t wait to come and visit again after I finished University!
My wettest dream
The wildest, greenest and most wonderful place I have ever been to. Welcoming and smart people have only made my stay more pleasant. My 4 months in the Chocó rainforest were more than amazing.
I would like to recommend this place to everybody who wants to do research in an almost untamed place were it feels like home.
Thank you for everything I could do and learn.
As I am a bird bander, whenever I travel I like to volunteer at a local banding station. Nicole graciously accommodated our schedule to enable us to help with her MOSI banding project. We then assisted a graduate student from Quito with capturing hummingbirds. Great location with a lot of neat birds. Accommodation and meals were simple but adequate. Nicole was also very helpful in arranging transportation and a stay in Mindo.
Volunteer & Intern
Our stay at Un poco del Chocó was great! My friends and I had an amazing time working alongside Nicole and volunteering with Wilo. As interns we were able to participate in bird banding, setting up mist nets, and setting up/monitering trail cameras. The reserve itself is beautiful and we all had an amazing time birding and exploring the natural areas.
Thanks for a great time!
There is so much to see at Un poco del Choco! The flora and avifauna is just incredible. And that's not all; the people are all amazingly happy persons which makes the stay a real enjoyment!
My Study Time at Un poco del Chocó
In 2015, I was studying biology and was looking for a topic for my bachelor thesis when Nicole gave a talk at my university about the biological station and nature reserve "Un poco del Chocó". Since a module about pollination ecology in 2014, I wanted to do something in this direction and the tropics always fascinated me. So I asked Nicole after her talk if there would be a possibility to do my bachelor thesis at her station. After some weeks of corresponding via mail, it was fixed that I would stay there for three months, from the beginning of october 2015 to the beginning of january 2016. For my studies I investigated the influence of sugar feeders on the flower visiting behaviour of hummingbirds.
The best part of my trip was indeed the whole trip itself - and I mean it! The rainforest with all of its diversity, the nice people (especially Nicole and Wilo), the weekend travels to the coast or to the Andes or to Mindo - it was one of my biggest and best experiences in my life until now. The christmas bird counts in december were especially interesting for me.
I did learn many new aspects about tropical ecology in general, but of course especially about hummingbirds and pollination biology. I learned to work on a scientific question on my own, but had always the possibility to talk with Nicole about my studies, where she helped me a lot with her knowledge about (humming)birds, pollination and the reserve of course. I also learned a little bit spanish back then (I'm afraid this is completely lost until now again) and also about the Ecuadorians and how they live.
I would totally recommend you to visit these nice people with their own small piece of rainforest, saved from getting cut down, either as a student with your own project, or for a internship for example.
I for myself am so longing to get back there some day and visit this place again.
An unforgettable experience
It's been over a year since I finished my internship but I can still remember every day I spend with you guys. Nicole, Wilo, Christian and everyone I met during the 2 months.
It is absolutely a unique and excellent experience.Not only the tropical ecology course and practices on identifying and banding birds brings me a vivid picture about the nature here, but also the daily life and working in such a paradise is enjoyable.I learned a lot,a lot of knowledge and what's more, a different life.We harvested bananas by ourselves, patrolled in the reserve, planted trees and constructed a garden for humming birds. A simple life without social media brings people close. We chatted a lot and laughed a lot. I also enjoyed the time after lunch when I can simply listen the songs of the birds and read.
I turned to 25 here and got my first homemade birthday cake from Nicole (that's true, we don't do it back home).
All in all, it was such a beautiful time.I would really love to visit again.
Best wishes from the harmless Chinita.
Mees aka Pepelucho
Research Traineeship & Tropical Ecology Course
What an awesome experience it was for me to spend 26 (or so) weeks at Un poco del Chocó. I think this half a year has probably been the best half a year of my life! The first days I was already blown away by the beauty of the reserve, but after the two weeks of the 'Tropical Ecology Couse' where Nicole taught us insane amount, my surroundings amazed me even more. After the course, I did a 'Research Internship' of 20 weeks, studying an interersting symbiotic relation ship between Antbirds and Army ants. The more I studied them, the more interesting they got and the more effort and time I was putting in my research. Nicole offered exellent supervision, providing me with literature and her endless knowledge.
Besides this, I also had fun times with Nicole, Wilo, Christian and the other students/volunteers I met during my stay. I celebrated my birthday there, as well as christmas and new year: Unforgettable experiences...
If I ever have money I will have to visit again.
P.S. I was gonna give six stars, but I didn't see the Banded Ground-Cuckoo, so five it is...
Un poco del Chocó is the perfect place to learn a lot about nature, birds, life and about yourself. I have been there for three weeks in 2016 for a bird monitoring internship and this time was definitely too short. Nicole and Wilo are absolutely lovely, patient and funny individuals and i intensely miss the time banding birds with Nicole and cooking with Wilo. Also the dogs Toga and Klecks are wonderful little souls which are always ready for a little adventure or to cuddle with you. And if you have to typewrite data into the laptop at Nicoles and Wilos house the cat Bagira will be there to help you :-). The station was the perfect place for me to calm down and at the same time i have never laughed so often.
I´m very thankful for this inspiringly time and will always remember you guys. I would definitely visit this little paradise again.
This was such a breath of fresh air from the daily hustle and bustle of backpacking. I loved how after working for a few hours in the morning I could just relax and read while listening to the sounds of the birds in the forest. We had a fun group of volunteers and interns, and always had a good laugh over lunch and dinner. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, thanks to Nicole and Wilo!
Such a great place!
Un poco del Chocó is one of the most incredible places - if you are in Ecuador, be sure to visit! I stayed for a month as an intern and had a wonderful experience. Nicole and Wilo are such welcoming and inspiring people, and even though it was my first time in South America I immediately felt at home. The work that you do as an intern is varied and interesting, especially if you are curious about gardening in the tropics or bird research. And there is plenty of time left over each day to explore the beautiful forest reserve where there is always something new to discover. One of the reasons that I interned was to get more experience with bird banding, and I was very happy with the amount of time we were able to spend banding while I was there. Nicole is a great teacher and very knowledgeable about tropical ecology. The station itself is beautiful and peaceful to live in with the other interns and researchers - it seems like the reserve attracts so many wonderful people. Un poco del Chocó is definitely worth a visit!
Un poco del Chocó ROCKS !
On our trip through Southamerica we stopped at this beautiful peace of rainforest. The varied volunteer work at Un poco del Choco was a great alternation to our everydays backpacker life. Especially the vibe of the selfbild woodhouses in combination with the isolation of Un poco del Choco is amazing. Be supplied with delicious vegatrian food is the exploration station also a fantastic place to free your mind and enjoy the nature with its beautiful birds and animals. All in all it´s definitely a nice place to stay. Thanks for the amazing experience and all the best for the future. We looking forward to visit Un poco del Choco again! Greetings Annabel & Chris
Volunteer & Intern
I wanted to feel and explore the rainforest, learn about the everyday life of a biological station and forget all of my issues at home. Yes, it was a perfect match. Un poco del Chocó provides all you need for living: a bed, nice meals and good company. You will adopt quickly to the bathrooms and the "special time" of the forest (e.g. dusk, dawn, rain, lunch, power...).
Nicole and Wilo are the best hosts you can imagine. They try to help you as good as possible and have the kind of humor that lead you through a rainy day.
The landscape, forest and tons of little details...just see youself!
I recommend it.
Perfect for getting to know Ecuador!
My boyfriend and I stayed at Wilo and Nicole's for 5 weeks as volunteers in September - October 2015. It was super easy communicating with Nicole before, during and after our stay - very open, helpful and honest. Not understanding any Spanish in advance, it was great having Wilo and Christian linguistically challenging us during our morning work routine. You really get to know the Ecuadorian traditions and lifestyle - if not by doing so, than by listening to stories from your three hosts. The house is beautifully made, small but cosy - great for getting to know your fellow volunteers or students. Another plus: Un Poco Del Choco is in the middle of nowhere and relatively close to Quito (which is the main base for all trips in Ecuador) at the same time. Nicole will provide you with all the information, tips and tricks for travelling in Ecuador! (If the timing is right, let them take you to Mindo during the weekend!) If I have to point out one negative aspect, it would be the price. Personally, I think it was a bit overpriced in comparison to another reserve we stayed at - but nonetheless it was a great experience and a great cause.
Un poco del choco was my first tropical rainforest experience. When I arrived at the station I just couldn't stop scanning everything. The sound, the smell, the visual nature.. Amazing! The station was exactly what I was looking for, because it is just you, the station, nature and nothing else. We lived almost isolated together with the team which was really relaxed. As volunteer you work only mornings, so all in all my life at un poco del choco was very relaxed. At the weekends I did some trips, wich was very easy because of the nearness to quito. Nikole helped me a lot with planning them, which made everything very easy :)
Liebe Nicole, lieber Wilo!
Jetzt bin ich seit 2 Wochen wieder in Deutschland und habe doch tatsächlich seither JEDE Nacht von Ecuador geträumt! Ich wäre wirklich wahnsinnig gerne noch bei euch auf der Station - wenn ich die Möglichkeit gehabt hätte, wäre ich definitiv noch um einiges länger geblieben. Die 4 Wochen waren einfach zu kurz!!
Ich hab mich bei euch sehr schnell sehr wohl gefühlt und - von diversen Käse-, Brot- und Schokoladen-Gelüsten jetzt mal abgesehen:) - Deutschland keine Sekunde vermisst, was auch nicht schwer ist, wenn man von so fröhlichen, herzlichen, sympathischen und unkomplizierten Menschen wie euch umgeben ist, betreut und bekocht wird!
Noch nie hab ich in 4 Wochen so viel gelacht und gleichzeitig interessante Dinge gelernt, gesehen und hervorragende Gespräche über den menschlichen Verdauungstrakt geführt!:)
Ihr habt es wirklich richtig gemacht und euch da was ganz schön Wunderbares aufgebaut.
Die Idee, ein Stück Regenwald zu kaufen, auf diese Weise Naturschutz zu betreiben, dort zu leben und vor allem, anderen Menschen die Möglichkeit zu bieten, einen Einblick in eben dieses Projekt zu bekommen und mitzuarbeiten, ist einfach guuuut und hat mich dazu ermuntert, mein schon länger angedachtes eigenes „Bauernhof-oder-was-auch-immer-aber-im-Grünen -muss-es-sein-Zukunfts-Projekt“ nicht aus den Augen zu verlieren!
Was ich bei euch auch sehr genossen hab, war doch tatsächlich, dass man bei euch viel weniger als zu Hause, aber eigentlich doch alles hat! Wer braucht schon elektrisches Licht abends, ein Klo in der Wohnung oder einen Aldi ums Eck:) Es geht definitiv auch einfacher – und das ist ganz schön entspannend!
Da ich leider weder Schlange noch Banded-Ground-Guckoo gesehen habe, befürchte ich, dass ich irgendwann mal wieder kommen muss – spätestens aber, wenn der „Pumati“ in der Wand vor der neuen Aussichts-plataforma erneuert werden muss!!
Ich wünsche euch für dieses Jahr alles Beste und sage nochmal Daaankeschön für alles! Ganz liebe Grüße an alle!
Uli & Felix
Hallo ihr Lieben!
Ich darf nächste Woche einen Vortrag über mein Praktikum halten und hab deshalb mal wieder euere Internetseite durchstöbert. Wunderschöne neue Bilder ;-)!
Wir denken oft und gerne an die tolle Zeit bei euch! Macht weiter so!!! Liebe Grüße aus dem winter-grauen Deutschland, Uli
Amazing place, amazing people!
My name is Barbara and I have been for about 6 weeks at Nicole´s and Wilo´s place and came back later again for another 4 weeks in 2012 because I just loved this place!
I found "Un poco de choco" by chance when I was looking for place for volunteering and I am still more than happy about it!
Nicole and Wilo created a little paradise within a stunning nature. Their main target is to protect nature and animals in a sustainable way. They also do a lot of education work in the surrounded villages and teach the people how to protect the nature, indicate on the huge plastic problem and creating sustainability by this important work.
I think, these two persons show in an impressive way, that single persons are able to make the world a bit better with passion and a vision.
And - these two guys are really funny and lovely people. We had lots of fun, laughed a lot and I definitely can say that my time at "Un poco del choco" enriched me!
So, if you love nature, don´t mind to get a bit dirty and are curious, I really can recommend this place. Ecuador is also a beautiful and diversified country. So you can take the chance to combine your trip in a perfect way and I am sure, you´ll love it!!!
Intern & Volunteer
Liebe Nicole, lieber Wilo!
Vielen Dank für die schöne Zeit, die wir als Volontäre (und Janine als Praktikantin) auf eurer Station hatten.
Das gemeinsame Leben und Arbeiten in den acht Wochen war für uns eine wundervolle Erfahrung und Bereicherung.
Speziell die kleinen Momente beim Grillen oder Tatort schauen gaben uns das Gefühl wirklich willkommen zu sein.
Wir hoffen, dass ihr auch in Zukunft fleissige Helfer findet die eure Arbeit unterstuetzen, denn wie wichtig euer Werk ist, zeigt sich nicht nur in der Schoenheit eures Schutzwaldes, sondern auch in seiner Artenvielfalt.
So moege euch euer Star der Station noch lange erhalten bleiben, brueten und sich naehren. Auf dass die Fans des banded ground cuckoo bald die nötige Unterstützung geben um euer großartiges Projekt voranzutreiben und mehr Land zu schützen.
Und zur Erinnerung gibt es noch ein schoenes Foto, damit ihr ja nicht vergesst, wie gluecklich wir bei euch ausgesehen haben:-)
Daniel und Janine
Hi Nicole & Wilo,
I really had a great time during our short stay. Apart from seeing the Incredible Banded Ground-cuckoo I enjoyed the company, the food, the comfortable bed and walking the trails.
Good luck with your work and I hope the BGC stays as long as you hope.
Es war so schön bei euch!
Ich würde direkt nochmal wiederkommen
Macht weiter so mit eurem Projekt und hoffentlich bleiben die Kukucks noch ganz lange bei euch!
Liebe Grüße an Alle auf der Station
Internship & Tropical Ecology Course
Hola Nicole and Wilo!
Just stopping by to let everyone know I had a great time at the station - I never thought getting to know the rainforest and tropical ecology would be that easy and that much fun. A unique experience, not only thanks to that marvellous Banded Ground-Cuckoo :) Totally worth it!
Nicole and Wilo,
I had a wonderful time at the station!! It was a pleasant and rewarding time!! In the five months I was here I learned a lot about hummingbirds but also about the rainforest in general!!
People that would like to do an internship in the rainforest are on the right place at your station!!
Good luck in the future and hopefully I will see you next year again.
Hola Nicole y Wilo!
We had a really good time at your Biological Station and hope to come back at least once in our life.
We learned a lot about the wonders of the ecosystem rainforest and will never forget the wonderful time we had there.
All the best for your future, Peggy y Nora
I had a wonderful time at this beautiful place while doing an internship
in october 2010. Nobody should miss such an experience :-)
Anne & Roger
Beautiful cloud forest reserve
My partner and I spent five months as volunteers at Un Poco del Choco in 2012. The station is in a beautiful location surrounded by so much fascinating wildlife. We worked on creating a trail, trail maintenance, gardening and lots of smaller projects like helping with kids' visits to the station, teaching some English, and general maintenance. If - like us- you love wildlife it is a fantastic place to visit. Our work was often interrupted by the spotting of a new bird species, an armadillo rustling by, curious monkeys watching us or noisy frogs. Nicole and Wilo are passionate about their project and will help to make your stay comfortable and fun. Wilo's cooking is great and the house is very well equipped considering its location (I think some updates have taken place since our visit). I would recommend volunteering here if you enjoy wildlife, peace and quiet, and you aren't afraid of some hard physical work. We loved it and would love to go back one day!