I will be having a very exciting end to 2019 and an equally incredible start to 2020.
In just a few days, I will be travelling to Ecuador, as a guest of the Quito Tourist Board and of Ana Lucia, of El Septimo Paraiso Lodge, in the Mindo region of Equador.
I met Ana Lucia at BirdFair this year. She was very interested in the Bushnells and the work I do with a variety of wildlife camera set ups. We talked for a long time and she told me about her wonderful lodge in the Cloud Forest in Equador. As you can imagine, I was very interested, especially as this region of Cloud forest has unique ecosystems, renowned for their biological abundance. Located less than 2 hours north of Quito, the cloud forests of Mindo and Bellavista regions are renown for their biodiversity. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here, and experts believe the actual count is much higher!
To cut a long story short, Ana took me to meet the team on the Quito (Capital of Ecuador) stand at Bird Fair and we had a chat about what I could do with some of my kit to showcase some of the wildlife in this region of Ecuador and what it has to offer for wildlife enthusiasts.
Over the following months, I submitted a proposal to the team and, after lots of emails, my trip was approved! This means that I will be spending 5 days with the Quito Tourism team and then staying with Ana Lucia at El Septimo Paraiso Lodge for a week!
Throughout my time, I will be tweeting and blogging and setting range of cameras. I will be taking a range of Bushnell trail cameras, Hikvision thermal camera, Birdsy camera set up and my DSLR! My ‘job’ (it’s tough!) is to share my journey and through my writing, learn more about this region as a wildlife destination. Just as I did in Finland, I will be sharing my journey through words and images on an absolute dream trip. In fact, it hasn’t really sunk in yet!
I leave for Quito on the 27th December. I don’t want to give too much away, but here is a taster of some of the places I will be visiting…..
Located in the Antisana Ecological Reserve, this is one of the best places to see the Andean Condor, along with several other incredible species such as the giant hummingbird, Andean Ibis, Carunculated Caracara and Silvery Grebe.
Image: Encyclopedia Britannica
The Maquipucuna Reserve is the closest pristine rainforest from Quito. It spans over 14,000 acres of privately protected cloud forests at the heart of the Chocó Andean Corridor, one of the earth’s top three biodiversity hotspots. The reserve covers a vast diversity of ecozones between 900m (2900 ft) and 2785m (9100 ft), meaning you can find a huge diversity of wildlife. The Maquipucuna Reserve is the only forest where you can watch endangered Andean Spectacled Bears, as they come to feed on ripening avocados in the surrounding trees, although I may be a little late in the season to see this at its peak.
Paz de las Aves
The Refugio Paz de Las Aves (meaning: Peace of the Birds sanctuary) is a 25-hectare (62-acre) private nature reserve in the western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes. Besides grassland and secondary forest, much of the area is covered by primary forest on steep inclines, that is protected by the owners. It is regularly visited by nature loving tourists and birdwatchers due to the ease with which some deep forest species may be observed here. Six antpitta species are present (giant, yellow-breasted, moustached, Chestnut-crowned antpitta, Scaled antpitta and ochre-breasted antpittas) An Andean cock-of-the-rock lek was discovered in 2005, and dark-backed wood-quail and lyre-tailed nightjar are other specialties. Hummingbird feeders have been placed at the edge of the forest and numerous species can be watched.
Bellavista Cloud Forest
Bellavista… located on the old Nono-Tandayapa-Mindo road, synonymous with one of the very best birding areas in Ecuador, an area that has won the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the highest number of bird species seen in one day!
The bird life here is just incredible… look at the bird list!
I will be reeling at this point and this is only the beginning! I will then be taken to my final destination, Ana-Lucia’s Lodge in the same region of Mindo.
The Tandayapa and Mindo Valleys, just 84 km northwest of Quito, are amongst the best birding sites in South America. Around 430 species have been recorded, with 370 in/around Mindo alone. The birding at the lodge looks just unbelievable! Species such as Toucan Barbet, Scaled Antpitta, Spillman`s Tapaculo, Little Woodstar, Long-Wattled Umbrellabird, Tanager-finch, Black-crowned Tityra, Golden-Bellied Warbler, Torrent Duck, White-Capped Dipper and many more. There are numerous feeding stations around the lodge and a mind-blowing number of species of hummingbirds!
Imagine what I am going to be able to capture with all of my kit! I will be setting a Birdsy camera here too, as well as my Bushnells… It is going to be mind blowing!
I will arrive at Ana Lucia’s on New Year’s eve and then stay there for a week. To say I am excited is obviously an understatement! It is only as I write this that the whole trip is beginning to sink in.
I am really going to Ecuador!!!
You can follow my trip on Twitter, FB and my blog.