Ruta Collas, Quito 170183, Ecuador

Today we went on a one day Magic Birding Circuit from Quito to five locations in the rain forest west of Quito at elevations from 5000 to 11,000 feet. Ellen had taken Diamox in advance so had no problem with altitude.

The first place, San Jorge Lodge at 10,000’, was in the clouds when we arrived at 6:30am with little light so it was hard to get good photos.

But we shot a few hummingbirds. The guy in the background who looks like Fidel Castro was our guide, Jorge. \240

Weather was much better and many more birds at Los Armadillos.

Here and the Tandayapa Eco lodge were fabulous- hummingbirds buzzing by your ears at high speed.

Yes, it was pretty remote over some questionable roads to get to Tandayapa.

Last 100 meters on foot, but only 6000’ high.

Primal rain forest all around.

Ellen spotted a Masked Trogon in a tree - Jorge was amazed!

Leaving Tandayapa we stopped to see Andean Cock-of-the-rock LEK, but some Germans had scared them to the opposite side of the valley so photos were impossible.

Last stop was a beautiful garden full of birds. We even got to photograph a swordbill hummingbird.

Trip back to Quito took us past waterfalls and high altitude cattle ranches. \240Apparently some people keep cows in Quito!


Flew from Quito to Coca (San Francisco de Orellana). \240There we boarded a motorboat for a two hour ride down the VERY SHALLOW Napo River. \240We only ran aground twice.

We arrived at a small black water creek inside Yasuni National Park. We went upstream 100m where we had a short break and met our guide Marcello and his assistant Fausto.

We got into a narrow canoe and our guides paddled us 2 hours up Anangu Creek.

Saw a variety of birds, monkeys and a black caiman on the way to Napo Wildlife Center where we would stay two full days.

Our “standard” room!

Rio Napo

Got up at 4:45 ready for an early visit to a parrot clay lick. Marcello was concerned it was going to rain but we weren’t (hey, they don’t call this the Amazon rain forest for nothing!). We proceeded with the original plan- and of course got rained on, but it was light. The clay lick was disappointing - only two yellow crowned Amazon \240parrots. After stopping a passing park ranger boat for advice, we proceeded up the Napo river a mile and walked 20 minutes to another clay lick. \240Only a few birds in two hours, then a dozen amazing scarlet macaws descended from the high canopy. Then scores of orange cheeked parrots and hundreds of green parakeets. Wow!

On the way back to the lodge we encountered four endangered giant river otters, many cool birds and saw some monkeys stealing eggs from an ani nest. Quite a day.

Rio Napo

Very rainy. \240Spent morning in the tower, spotted toucans etc, and got some close shots of the iconic tamarin monkeys.

After lunch the rain abated and I climbed a 30m tower, a 3km hot hike after crossing the lake. Marcello called in a woodpecker and some toucans. View of top of the rain forest was great.


Today we leave Napo

Paddle down the creek to get onboard the motorboat that will take us up the Napo River to Coca.

Saw a brown-necked 3-toed sloth in a tree and a zig-zag heron!

From the dock on the creek we boarded the motorboat for Coca and the flight to Quito.

Raquel met us at the Quito airport and introduced us to Nestor and Anderson, our guiides for the rest of the trip. We drove up to 13K feet and over the continental divide to Termes de Papallacta. A quick lunch then to hummingbird lodge. Return to Papallacta exhausted and to bed w/o dinner.

Reserva Ecologica Antisana

After crossing a 300 year old lava flow we spent today in Antisana National Park (above), where we saw amongst many other things Andean Condors, with baby, and an endangered Spectacled Bear. \240We got pix but from pretty far away.

At breakfast stop near bridge, we spotted rare nightjars. Also Anderson was nearly run over by a large bull running up the road. I don’t understand much Spanish, but every 10th word from the guides was “toro” for the rest of the day.

At Lagoon Mica saw cara cara, Andean gulls, and Mica deer.

Lunch at Hacienda Guaytara and returned to Papallacta.

Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve

Departed Termes de Papallacta at 7am. Five minutes down the road spotted a red crested cotinga.

Its not all birds...

Back toward Quito stopped at Cayambe Coca National Park. ET saw giant hummingbird at 13,600’

We continued on at various altitudes through Quito and stopped for lunch at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve. Lots of birds including a trogan and some new to us hummingbirds.

Two more hours of driving mostly on extremely windy unpaved brought us to Mashpi Lodge. \240Raquel and Carlo (the driver) left us there. \240

Reserva Privada Mashpi, Mashpi 150150, Ecuador

Our room at Mashpi. At 6:30am met Nestor to check out birds around lodge. Trogans, hummers, flycatchers, tanagers, motmot, umbrella bird.

Mashpi Lodge

Last full day at Mashpi. Ellen reluctantly agreed to take the “Dragonfly” cable car to view the forest canopy. A little hike to the loading point.

“I just won’t look down”

Half way across, Ellen spots a black tipped cotinga, a white bird that only lives in the top of the canopy so is rarely seen. She got some great photos of it.

After lunch we rode/hiked to the “Life Center,” where they raise butterflies.

And got some close shots of 3 kinds of tucan.

Despite her bad knees, Ellen made it. Steps were recycled milk crates. \240Rubber boots totally necessary.


Nestor fixed a picnic breakfast for us at the hummingbird place.

There were again tons of hummingbirds, tanagers, toucanets, barbets, tayra, coati, red tailed squirrel. Tayra below...

Night jar lives below Mashpi entrance sign.

Goodbye, Mashpi- off to Quito and flight home.