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4 Days: Yanacocha Bellavista Lodge and Mindo Cloud Forest

The High Andean Forest of Pichincha Volcano, the magical cloud forest of the Mindo Valley in the Northwest of Ecuador.

Tour Information

We have selected the best nature reserves in the Western slope of the Andes to experience the magical forest in the tropical Andes.

This is one hotspot of biodiversity in Ecuador, holding many regional endemic species, like birds, amphibians, plants and reptiles.
You will have great opportunities to see a wide diversity of birds, unique mammals, and also a big number of hummingbirds like nowhere else in the world. You will be surprised with stunning landscapes and amazing views of the forest will take your breath away.
Additionally, these locations have excellent bird feeders and photography hides to help you grow your photo collection during this trip. At the same time, you will help the local economy and new conservation entrepreneurs that are protecting the forest where many unique creatures live.

Day 1:

The magnificent Sword-billed hummingbird, the bird with the longest bill in the world.

This nature experience starts at 6:00am, pick up from your hotel in Quito and drive towards the foothills of Pichincha Volcano, during this drive you will enjoy the magnificent views of the western Andes range.

Stunning landscape of elfin forest and high Andean forest will be explored today, you will be surprised with the incredible number of plants and flowers we have at this elevation, gorgeous birds can be expected here, the most outstanding are Scarlet-bellied, Hooded, and Black-chested Mountain Tanagers, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Spectacled Redstart, Black-crested Warbler, White-throated Tyrannulet and Glossy Flowerpiercer.

After breakfast, we will take a short and easy walk along a lovely, easy trail that will take us to the feeders station. At close distance, you can enjoy the magnificent Sword-billed Hummingbird, the bird with the longest bill in the world. Golden-breasted and Sapphire-vented Puffleg are often seen here; some regular species will be Masked Flowerpiercer, Yellow-breasted Brush finches, and Gray-brown Brush finch.
After a few hours exploring the forest we will walk back to the main entrance for lunch, this time we will look for Blue-backed Cone bill, Pearled Tree runner, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, White-banded Tyrannulet, Golden-crowned Tanager, this trail is very good to search for Andean Pygmy-Owl and Equatorial Antpitta.

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During and after lunch we will keep an eye on the hummingbird and banana feeders, some species around are Shining Sunbeams, Andean Guan, depending on weather conditions we may take a short walk around the main area otherwise we will start driving the old road Nono to Mindo towards the cloud forest.

Up on arrival in the lodge we will check the hummingbird feeders, for sure we will see more than one new specie, during diner time we have to be ready to get out maybe the rarest mammal (Olinguito) discover in the last 30 years will show up in one of the feeding stations in form of the restaurant

Overnight and dinner Bellavista Lodge

Elevation: 3,000m/9,840ft.

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Day 2:

Immerse yourself in the mythical cloud forest of Bella vista Lodge.

A forest located in the tropical Andes, is home to a countless number of epiphytes, you can enjoy more than a dozen, orchids, bromeliads, tree ferns and auteurisms.
We start our day with an easy and short walk around 6:30 am, we will be focused on birdwatching and landscape photography, there will be a great variety of birds feeding as the sun rises in the horizon, around the lodge we will be looking for Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Capped Conebill, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Masked Flowerpiercer, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch and Masked Trogon.

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Breakfast will be around 8:00 am, later we will explore the magical cloud forest interspersed with some walk and car to some marvelous viewpoints. During the hike we will be looking for Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Gorgeted Sunangel, Collared Inca, Grass-green Tanager and Toucan Barbet, walking in the trails will take you to a different world, you will feel inside a Jurassic Park movie.

After lunching at the lodge, we continue to the foothills of the Andes, where we will stay the next two nights.

Overnight and dinner at "Séptimo Paraíso".

Elevation: 2,200m/7,220ft.

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Day 3:

A close encounter with the bizarre Andean Cock of the rock.

After a cup of coffee, we will leave the lodge around 5:30 am. I know it is very early, but it is worth it, we will drive to the heart of the Cloud Forest to watch the amazing displays of the Andean Cock-of-the-rock. When the display is over, we will take short walks with Angel and Rodrigo the owners of this unique bird sanctuary, they will help us find some very elusive birds from the dense forest understory, good opportunities to see Giant, Ochre - breasted, Yellow-breasted, Mustached and Chestnut-crowned Antpittas, often they come at very close distance thanks to Angel and Rodrigo's hand feeding techniques.

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Around 9:00 am we will break for some excellent local coffee with "bolones de verde", (green plantain balls with chicken and spices inside), a delicious local breakfast close to the hummingbird feeders station. Here you can enjoy a great number of hummingbirds, Velvet-purple Coronet, Empress Brilliant, and the Booted Racket-tail just to mention a few, nearby here are banana feeders to see Golden-naped, Palm, Blue gray tanagers, Flame-faced Tanager and Crimson-rumped Toucanets, this place is a good spot to search for Golden-headed Quetzal.

Lunch will be at the restaurant Mirador Guaycapi, which is close to a wonderful bird garden with an amazing variety of hummingbirds, which can be observed from a close distance. Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Western Emerald, Purple-throated Woodstar, Crowned Woodnym, Green-crowned Brilliant, White-whiskered Hermit, Brown Violetear, and Andean Emerald can be seen along with Golden-olive Woodpecker, Red-headed Barbet, White-lined Tanager which cluster about the banana feeders.

We round out the day with dinner and overnight at "Séptimo Paraíso" Lodge.

Elevation: 1,700m/5;570ft.

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Day 4:

Mindo valley hummingbirds, chocolate factory and butterfly farm.

We start the day with a local cup of coffee and easy birding around the lodge, after breakfast we go to visit Mindo, this town has many different alternative activities from birding.
Ecuador has the best coffee and cacao beans, nowadays, many local people have started organic and forest friendly production, which is helping the local economy and forest restoration for a better condition for the wildlife that lives on it.

After a few hours learning the best way to grow organic beans and helping in the process to produce the best chocolate in the world, we will go back to the lodge.

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After lunch at "Septimo Paraíso", we start packing for our journey back to Quito near the airport, for your flight to the Amazon or Galápagos Islands the next day early in the morning.

Elevation: 1,100m/3,608ft.

¡Please note!

This tour links with: Experience the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador: Yasuni National Park or Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

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More Information

  • What does the trip include?

    • Private transportation throughout the tour.
    • English-speaking birdwatching and photography guide.
    • Entrance fees to all reserves and photography hides.
    • Two meals, breakfast and lunch.
    • Coffee and tea.

  • What is not included

    • Travel insurance.
    • Tips to drivers and local guides.
    • Alcoholic drinks, laundry services.
    • Extra services and trips not specified in the posted itinerary.

  • Relevant Information

    • Climate is highly variable in Ecuador, with temperatures varying from 10-30°C/50-80° • Sudden rainstorms interspersed with bright sun is not uncommon.
    • The official currency in Ecuador is US dollars.
    • National language in Ecuador is Spanish.
    • Internet is available at some lodges, but not guaranteed.

    NatureQuest can arrange for the purchase of local SIM cards with advance notice in order to provide data based internet service.

  • Sugested Packing List

    • Clothing, quick dry material; no cotton.
    • Long sleeve shirts.
    • Long convertible pants.
    • Waterproof hiking boots or trail runners.
    • Sandals or water shoes.
    • Quick dry / merino wool socks.
    • Sun hat or baseball cap.
    • Lightweight rain jacket.
    • Soft shell jacket or fleece.
    • Binoculars.

    Others: Always a camera | Refillable water bottle | Eco friendly sunblock | Eco friendly mosquito repellent (we suggest sawyer brand picaradin) | Personal medications | Hiking poles if needed.


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