Yanacocha, Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador

Yanacocha is an animal rescue center on the outskirts of the City of Puyo, Province of Pastaza, on the road to Tena. Owned and maintained by Ing. Jorge Flores who has converted his home into a special place for rescued animals.

The first chorongo baby born in captivity with the proud parents

He has a variety of species some of which are lucky enough to be returned to the wild once the animal has recovered. Others aren´t so lucky, they have to stay in captivity for the rest of their lives, but at least living at Yanacocha they can be assured of the best possible future.

Some of the animals have been rescued from the local Indians who often have kept the animals as pets who often mistreat them, these are often the ones that can never be released into the wild.

He has the only chorongo baby monkey that has been born in captivity in the whole of the country. There is also a baby tigrillo recently born.

I was unable to take a photo of the baby tigrillo, it was still very young to move around much and was very much under guard by the mother.

You can also volunteer at Yanacocha. If you have a few months to spare then check them out.  Click here to visit their web page.

Directions to Yanacocha. From Puyo take the Puyo – Tena  road. and the turn off is only a few kms. from Puyo, it´s well signed.


Macro Photography on the Cheap

All lenses have a limit on how close they can focus. This is because as objects move closer to the lens, the focal point moves further back, eventually beyond the plane of the film or sensor. An obvious way around this problem is to move the lens further away from the camera. That’s what macro extension tubes do.

For those who cannot afford a dedicated macro lens there are other options, just as good, but that require a little patience, for macro photography.

Extension Tubes or a Reverse lens ring.

The macro extension tubes that I use are very cheap and simple. As you can see from the second photo, it comes in five sections. At each end is a bayonet ring for mounting the tube to the lens and camera body (in this case Nikon). In between those any combination of three threaded tubes of varying length can be used to change the extension by varying degrees. That’s all there is to these tubes, nothing more.

Pros and cons

Here’s the costs/benefits of tubes like mine:

-You need to manual focus, my moving the lens/camera closer or nearer to the object, the same result is achieved by moving the object you are taking a photo of.

-You have no auto control on the camera, you need to put it in Manual to be able to take any photos. You have no aperture on some lenses, the 50mm on the other hand is great for macros as it allows you to change the aperture manually on the lens.

-You could overtighten the threads on the extension tubes making them difficult to unscrew.

-You need to be careful with the lens on a tripod as the centre of gravity changes putting greater stress on the cameras body´s lens mount.

-You need plenty of light. As the objects are closer to the lens, the light is blocked by the lens, so you need a side, overhead, backlighting source of light. Not a problem in a studio of course.

-As there is no data connection between the camera and the lens so the EXIF data will not be complete.


-Photographic opportunities otherwise unavailable (without very expensive specialist lenses) are possible.

-Economical.  I got mine from Amazon.com


– They have them for various makes of camera. There are others that cost more. Kenko for example.

-A light and compact addition to your gear. I carry mine with me everywhere.

-Useful even with telephoto lenses. A long lens is great for making things bigger, but they can’t focus very close at all. An extension tube can allow you to enlarge with the telephoto but still maintain a good working distance.

-Mechanically simple. There’s not much that can go wrong with these.

-They’ll get you thinking about new ways to take photos. Extension tubes make your lenses a whole lot more flexible, and don’t just have to be for photos of insects or flowers.

A macro reverse ring.

You need to make sure to buy one the correct size for your lens. I have two one for 67mm and one for 52mm.

The reverse ring focuses closer than the extension tubes. And they work like this:

Take the lens off the camera, place the reverse ring onto the camera in the same way as you would attach a lens, turn the lens around, back to front and attach to the reverse ring. You attach the side that the filter goes.

The strengths and weaknesses match above, but with the lens in the reverse position you need to take care of the electronics of the lens against damage.


A tripod is highly recommended.

The extensions tubes and reverse ring have opened up a whole new world for my photography without the expensive of a dedicated macro lens. They are great fun.

Laguna de Tiloncocha, Cotopaxi Province

We drove in search of the Laguna de Tiloncocha. Deep in the Andes, lost in the Canton of Saquisili, about an hour and a half drive from Saquisili, Cotopaxi. We asked in the main square which direction to take and headed off with a full tank of petrol, food and drink.  First we had to get to the Parroquia of Cochapamba, and from there find the communities of Llamahuasi  and Changungaloma.

The road started out paved, then turned to stones, a bit like cobbled then  turned, which is actually better, into dirt.

We kept asking frecuently in which direction to go, people are friendly and helpful. Passing through the Parroquia of Cochapamba the locals were in the main square playing the local pastime Ecuavoley. Volley Ball, Ecuador style.

Dirt roads, but very wide.

It was a Sunday so plenty of people were also out in the streams doing their laundry. Standing in the icy cold water, often for many hours, washing, hitting the clothes with large wooden sticks almost like killing the clothes.

Laundry drying in the sun.

There is not one single sign post, not even directing you to the communities, so as a result we missed the turn off for the lagoon, but luckily for us we came across someone walking along the road and asked for direction, we missed it by only a few hundred metres.

Small communites.

Here the road turned into a ´non´ road. It was made when the dam was constructed at the lagoon, but at this point we didn´t know this. I seems that few people travel along here now.

. It is not a big lagoon, located at 3800+ masl. We parked the car and walked  10 mins or so to the lagoon.

View of the Cotopaxi volcano, mostly cover in cloud on the right of the photo.

There is a short walk around the lagoon. The wind was fierce, icy cold but we were prepared with gloves, hats and warm clothes. This is a non tourist spot. Difficult to find, but a great day out all the same.  You will see some small villages and communities untouched by tourism and modern life. The MIDUVI (Ministerio de Desarrollo Urbano y Vivienda del Ecuador) has been through the area  giving housing to all  who need it. All the homes are the same and painted the same colour.

Laguna de Tiloncocha.

 The water in the lagoon is collected, and distributed throughout to all the local homes.

Local flora, specialist in surviving at high altitudes.

Walking around the lagoon.

Very windy, ´The Dam´

Not forgetting the local fauna.

Who lives here, well the pigs of course. Caves dug out of the side of the road

All photos taken with the new 50mm and my faithful Nikon D90