'Birds of the Northwest Andes'

What makes this trip special?

High temperate zone

High temperate zone

Yanacocha forest & Nono-Mindo road

In this region hummingbirds are the highlight, Shining Sunbeam, Mountain Velvet breast, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet and the rare endemic Black-breasted Puffleg and Purple-backed Thornbill.

Lower temperate zone & subtropical forest

Lower temperate zone & subtropical forest


Nearly 300 species are listed in this area including, 35 species of tanager, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Powerful Woodpecker and Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

The Antpitta farm

The Antpitta farm

Refugio de los Aves

Sit back and watch the normally elusive Giant, Moustached and Yellow-breasted Antpittas come onto the farms paths to feed.

Western Andean slopes

Western Andean slopes


The region around Milpe is home to Choco Trogon, Pale-Mandibled Aracari, Yellow-collared Chlorohonia, Broad-billed Motmot, Moss-backed Tanager, Choco Toucan and Club-winged Manakin.

Lowland tropical forest

Lowland tropical forest

Rio Palenque Biological Centre

The centre at Rio Palenque offers some great birding, with highlights including Pacific Parrotlet, Pallid dove, Bronzy, Baron's and Stripe-throated Hermits, Ecuadorian and Northern White-tailed Trogons and Choco Toucan.

Lowland habitat

Lowland habitat

Rio Salinche road

The Rio Salinche Bird Sanctuary is home to Purple-chested Hummingbird, Choco Trogon, Double-banded Graytail, Griscom's Antwren, Stub tailed Antbird and Black-tipped Cotinga amongst others.

Itinerary map for Ecuador & Galapagos 'Birds of the Northwest Andes' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Tandayapa
  • 1 Quito
  • 2 Tandayapa
  • 3 Mindo
  • 4 Mindo
  • 5 Milpe
  • 6 Rio Palenque
  • 7 Pedro Vicente Maldonado
  • 8 Quito
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Birds of the Northwest Andes'


Yanacocha Forest and the Nono-Mindo Road

Starting your trip with a bang, you depart from Quito before dawn to bird the Yanacocha forest at around 3300m on the northwest slope of Mt Pichincha - a high temperate zone with hummingbirds a major feature. Look for Shining Sunbeam, Mountain Velvet breast, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Purple-backed Thornbill, plus the rare endemic Black-breasted Puffleg among 3 puffleg species here. There are good chances of foraging tanager flocks, flower piercers, and furnariids. Listen for antpittas and tapaculos. Continue birding down the ‘Eco-Ruta’ Nono-Mindo road in lower temperate and subtropical forests to Tandayapa, your base for 2 nights.


Tandayapa and Bellavista

A full day’s birdwatching along forest trails and small roads around Tandayapa and Bellavista, with a visit to Tony Nunnery’s fabled garden. Nearly 300 species are listed in this area, including 35 species of tanager, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Powerful Woodpecker and Andean Cock-of-the- Rock. You’ll be mesmerized as up to 20 species of hummingbird whizz around the feeders


Tandayapa and Mindo Loma

A memorable day’s birding at Tandayapa and at the Herrera family’s Mindo Loma Reserve, whose hummingbird and fruit feeders attract specials such as Velvet-purple Coronet, Bufftailed Coronet, Fawn-breasted and Empress Brilliant, Violet-tailed Sylph, White-Bellied Woodstar and Hoary Puffleg (which has a lek here). There are also records of Pacific Tuftedcheek, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Orange-breasted Fruiteater and Purplish-mantled Tanager. Descend to Mindo for 2 nights at Septimo Paraiso cloud forest reserve at 1600m


Refugio Paz de las Aves (the ‘Antpitta farm’)

A while ago, local farmer Angel Paz started putting out worms for antpittas. Now his Refugio Paz de las Aves has trails and viewing shelters for you to sit and watch the rare and normally elusive Giant, Moustached and Yellow-breasted Antpittas. Darkbacked Wood-Quails come on to the path to feed. Also found here are Sickle-winged Guan, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Tucan Barbet, Olivaeous Piha, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager and the Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager. An Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, most active at dawn, is reached down a steep muddy trail


Mindo down to Milpe

Now well into your stride, there’s a morning birding in Septimo Paraiso’s productive reserve and other Mindo sites before birding down the western slopes to Milpe (1100m), where you stay the night. This is home to Chocó Trogon, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Broad-billed Motmot, Moss-backed Tanager, Chocó Toucan and Club-winged Manakin.


Rio Palenque Biological Centre

Early morning birding at Milpe then travel down to the Rio Palenque Biological Centre. This small patch of lowland tropical forest at about 100m offers great birding. On its many trails you will find yet another new set of species. Highlights include Pacific Parrotlet, Pallid Dove, Bronzy, Baron’s and Stripe-throated Hermits, Ecuadorian and Northern White-tailed Trogons, Chocó Toucan, Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner, Red-billed Scythebill, several ant birds, Black-headed Antthrush, dozens of flycatchers, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, White-bearded Manakin, Whiskered and Song Wren, Black-lored Yellowthroat, Grey-and-Gold Warbler, Golden-hooded and Tawny-crested Tanagers and Scarlet-rumped Cacique. Overnight at Rio Palenque lodge at 220m.


Palenque and Pedro Vicente Maldonado

Bird the humid lowland rainforest for Chocó endemics such as Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove, Double-banded Greytail, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Emerald and Scarlet-and-white Tanagers and the near-threatened Blue-whiskered Tanager. Overnight at a comfortable lodge outside Pedro Vicente Maldonado


Rio Silanche road

Morning birding at Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary: 80ha of Chocó lowland habitat at 350m that is home to Purple-chested Hummingbird, Chocó Trogon, Double-banded Graytail, Griscom’s Antwren, Stub-tailed Antbird, Black-tipped Cotinga, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Blue-whiskered Tanager. Your afternoon transfer back to Quito takes about 3 hours, but time permitting you could stop to bird the temperate forest of the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve: a vast volcanic crater close to the equatorial line. Rusty-Breasted, Undulated, Chestnut-Crowned, Chestnut-Naped, and Rufous Antpittas, White-Browed Spinetail, Ocellated, Ash-Colored and Unicolored Tapaculos, Plain-Tailed Wren and Stripe-Headed Brush-Finch are all possible here. For more time to bird the reserve you could add a night at Pululahua.

Guide prices for 'Birds of the Northwest Andes'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Driver 2 people sharing £call
Bird guide 2 people sharing £call
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Ecuador
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Birds of the Northwest Andes'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average customer rating 100%


Seasonal information for 'Birds of the Northwest Andes'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Tandayapa 23°C rainfall 257mm
1 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm
2 Tandayapa 23°C rainfall 257mm
3 Mindo 23°C rainfall 342mm
4 Mindo 23°C rainfall 342mm
5 Milpe 23°C rainfall 342mm
6 Rio Palenque 28°C rainfall 423mm
7 Pedro Vicente Maldonado 27°C rainfall 488mm
8 Quito 15°C rainfall 117mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Birds of the Northwest Andes'

Days 1 - 2

Tandayapa Lodge

high elevation near Mindo

A birders lodge. Proudly designed by birders, owned by birders, and run for birders by birders. Not really suitable for people with more general interests. However, everyone would enjoy the long list of hummingbird species that can be seen at their feeders.

Downside: functional. Few comforts and only the very smallest  outside communal  patio area to relax on as this is a very steeply sloped site seventy metres from the forest edge. Rooms are a good size, plain, clean with private bathroom. Meals are served at times to suit birders I.e. early breakfasts and early dinners.

Tandayapa Lodge
Day 3

Septimo Paraiso

Mindo valley bottom

Average rating 4.4 (23 ratings)

This charming lodge in the valley bottom at Mindo is like an assemblage of rambling Swiss chalets. It offers comfortable well-maintained and characterful wood-walled rooms, each with private bathroom.

The lodge is set in a 300 hectare private reserve at 1,050-1,650m. A selection of short and long trails run from the lodge, and it has a swimming pool.

Note: the resident bird guide doesn't speak English.

Septimo Paraiso
Day 6

Rio Palenque Reserve biological station

near Pedro Vicente Maldonado

A rustic naturalists' lodge situated within the Rio Palenque reserve beside the Palenque River. Bedrooms have private facilties and hot water showers.

Rio Palenque Reserve biological station
Lodge exterior
Day 7

Hosteria El Paraiso, P V Maldonado

Pedro Vicente Maldonado

A comfortable mid-range hotel with 19 rooms with lush surroundings. It is situated beside the river outside Pedro Vicente Maldonado with a garden setting and swimming pool.  There is horseback riding, billiards, table tennis, fishing and a river beach. Rooms have TV, private bathrooms with hot water, fans, minibarand private porch.

Hosteria El Paraiso, P V Maldonado
Pool area