…and the award goes to José DeCoux, director of Los Cedros Biological Reserve in, well, the Middle of Nowhere, Ecuador!

The following description found on the website about how to access the reserve is what solidified José and his Middle of Nowhere project as the category winner.

Los Cedros is only 60 kilometres northwest of Quito as the quetzal flies, but it can be quite a journey!

From Quito an early morning bus will take you away from the city, along the highways to the byways, then the dirt tracks. You will pass a succession of big green mountain views and bustling hillside towns until you reach Chontal. In the village you can find the hostal with no sign run by Ramiro Nogales and Alicia Rodriquez and you can wait there for the mules and have something to eat. Everyone in Chontal knows about Los Cedros so if no one is home at the hostal just ask around.

You will be met by the mules who are prepared to haul you and your things up the mountain. The majority of this five hour hike is walking alongside and above the clear-blue Rio Magdalena. You will pass small family-run farms, creep underneath the forest canopy, and eventually curve up into the clouds. Somewhere towards the top of all that splendour you might find Los Cedros Biological Reserve – a little piece of paradise for thousands of species, including yourself!

So, what exactly are you riding a mule up the mountainside for, anyways?

Well, Los Cedros is a reserve encompassing 17,000 acres of land in one of the most biologically diverse and endemic habitats on Earth. The area is constantly in danger of deforestation, and José and his team rely on the help of volunteers like you to help them maintain the integrity of the reserve and its watersheds.

Visit http://reservaloscedros.org/ to learn more about this project and ways to get involved.

And, remember!

Los Cedros is high up in the middle of a cloud forest. There is nothing else for miles around, so bring everything else that you may need with you!

Los Cedros volunteers are eligible for the LIVFund Scholarship. Tell us why you want to ride a mule into this remote region of Ecuador to volunteer, and you could win US$500.

Do you know someone who is making a difference in Latin America? Click here to make nominations for future Pioneer Awards! The next nomination deadline is November 15, 2011.