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You are here:2.1.2 The Tandayapa Valley

2.1.2 The Tandayapa Valley

The Tandayapa valley is a popular site along the Old Quito-Nono-Mindo road.  Even though some areas have been cleared for farming and ranching, several important conservation efforts have taken place in the last 15 years.  These successes include those by the Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge, Tandayapa Bird Lodge, the Parador Pacha Quindi and several others. The road also gives access to some pristine middle and lower montane cloud forest right along or close by the narrow and winding to the road.   This road provides access to the otherwise inaccessible 19.200 hectare Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo.   In fact, at some points and for a short stretches, you will be seeing some of the Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo forest just along the road.


Middle and Lower Montane Forest.


Tandayapa Valley

The Tandayapa valley can be accessed continuing along the Quito to Nono-Mindo road from Yanacocha and Verdecocha or can be visited by taking the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway.   At any rate the Tandayapa valley is such a good birding area that a minimum 2 nights stay to explore and bird the area in any of the two lodges is highly recommended.

The Nono-Mindo road along the TandayapaValley has NO public transportation.  Even though buses run along the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway and the lodges could be accessed by foot from it, the walk will be long and difficult  and is only recommended if you are extremely fit.  It is best either to hire a taxi to drop you off at any of the lodges, hire your own vehicle, or get the Lodges to organize the transportation for you.  The Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge has transportation on an almost daily basis from Quito-Bellavista-Quito. 

The Tandayapa valley has quite a few places to stay.  Two of the lodges, the Cabañas Rio Alambi This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and at the Hostería El Paraíso del Pescador Tandayapa, are located at a lower elevation in a more degraded area and you will have to drive some distance to the prime birding spots.

The San Jorge de Tandayapa Eco-Lodge  is a new place which I do not have much experience with as of January 2010.  The habitat around the lodge seems to be mainly old second-growth and the access to the lodge is via a steep trail.

The best two lodges are the Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge /This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">'+addy_text56758+'<\/a>'; //--> located in upper montane forest at 2230 m. located right along the road and surrounded by superb forest.   Bellavista accepts day visits to the 10km trails system and hummingbird feeders for US $5  and has good food and a knowledgeable friendly staff.  A second lodge is The Tandayapa Bird Lodge / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. located in the LowerMontaneForest at 1950 m., surrounded by tall second-growth and with access to a tall mature forest that is very close to the road, and has a good system of trails.   I have heard and read that Tanadayapa Bird Lodge accepts day visits at US $5 per person for their hummingbird feeders and US $5 a piece for the use of the trails.   I have also been told they do not allow day visits from outsiders and you are only allowed to use their facilities when you are their guest.  To bird this lodge it would be wise to double check with  them before a visit if you do not plan to stay.

Another alternative is to volunteer yourself to work at the Parador Pacha Quindi  for extended periods of time.  To find out more about this option contact owner Tony Nunnery This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   There you will have plenty time to look for birds as you help them with their projects at their beautiful home.


Tandayapa Valley

(Click here to download Map. Tandayapa Valley).

If you are approaching the Tandayapa valley from Yanacocha and Verdecocha, keep driving along the Nono-Mindo road toward Tandayapa and Mindo. The entrance to Verdecocha side road is 26.9 Km from Quito and is along the old Nono-Mindo road.   After a drive of 5 km toward Mindo, there is a house with a sign for the Chestnut- crowned Antpitta.  Apparently the people here feed the antpitta and you might be able to see it.   Guango and San Isidro Lodges in the eastern side of the Andes are however, easier places to look for this antpitta.  I never stopped at this site.  Further 5 km from here which is 10km from Veredecocha road entrance and 36,9 km from Quito (1845 m), you will find 3 power posts along the right hand side of the road.  There are twin posts near a shorter rounded one.   A stop in this site at a proper time of the day from 6:00to 8:00 AM, or 4:00 to 6:00 PM, should give the birder a chance to see the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek just across the gulley.   At these times the birds perch on exposed branches to allow great binocular and telescope views. 

(Click here to download Map. Bellavista & Tandayapa).

Driving further 6.1 km, at 43 km from Quito (1620 m), you will arrive to the picturesque little town of Tanadayapa after crossing a narrow bridge over a small stream that at times has the White-capped Dipper.   Look for the dipper along the streams in your drive from Verdecocha to Tandayapa.   After crossing this bridge, and right in town, the road forks with the right hand road heading to the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway.  The Quito-Calacalí-La Independencia Highway is located only 4.9 km from this point. Right before the highway, only 0.1km from the highway is the entrance to Cabañas El Alambi with hummingbird feeders. If you are not visiting Mindo, I recommend to stop here and look for some of the hummingbird species from lower elevations. 

The left road continues along the Nono-Mindo old road.

From the Tandyapa Village reset your odometer to 0.0 km, follow the Nono-Mindo road uphill for just 0.3 km.  Here you will find a sharp road entrance on the right side.   This steep road leads a further 0.15 k m up to the Tandayapa Bird Lodge, where nice and very well kept trails will give you great chances to see some of the specialties from the Chocó lower montane Forest.   The rare and local White-faced Nunbird has nested inside the Tandayapa forest.

Continuing along the Nono-Mindo road, there are many worthy stops along the way.   A special one is at a big quarry before you get to Pacha Quindi which is Tony´s home and Hummingbird garden.  At this quarry a pair of Beautiful Jays has a territory.  Beyond this quarry, 4.4 km from Tandayapa town or 47.4 km from Quito at 1945 m. after a sharp bend, there is an obscure trail heading down the hill on the outer side of the bend.   This short trail takes you to Tony´s home and garden. His home is known as Parador Pacha Quindi is a 30 hectare reserve which charges 5 US $ a piece to visit their feeders and the 7 km trail system. This site is one of the greatest places to look for hummingbirds in Ecuador and if you are not visiting the Tandayapa bird lodge or Mindo you must be sure stop here.

At another 2.2 km along the road you are in the middle of this Montane forest and 6.6 km from Tandayapa town, 2150 m, and 49.6 km from Quito.  Here you have arrived at the Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge where the main attractions are the hummingbird feeders, the great system of trails and the chance to look for one of the rarest birds of South America, the local and endangered Tanager Finch.

Continuing toward Mindo for 1.0 km from Bellavista at 50.6 km from Quito and 2200 m. there is a split in the road.  The right fork will lead you to the Bellavista Research Station and beyond to the small village of San Tadeo.   This road eventually connects with the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway close to the town of Nanegalito. The left hand fork will continue up to the pass and then down gradually toward Mindo.  Look for birds along the Bellavista Research Center junction back towards Bellavista Lodge.  The first 300 m look especially for the Tanager Finch, and the White-faced Nunbird.   For the first 600 m on the road toward the Bellavista Research station is an especially good place to find the Tanager Finch.  This road is easy to bird till reaching the research station at 2.2 km from the junction.

Shortly after the San Tadeo junction on the way to Mindo 1.3 km from Bellavista Lodge, at 2200 m., you will reach the first summit.  Along this section of the road, a few meters downhill on the Bellavista side of the road, at a small landslide, you want to try for the Swallow-tailed Nightjar. Look for the nightjar at dusk as the male comes out of its roosting place. Continuing along 1.9 km from Bellavista you will find a concrete water tank on the left side.  Start looking for the Tanager Finch from here all the way down the road until a point 3.3 km from Bellavista.   Try to pay special attention to the road sides where the vegetation is a dense second growth.

The forest is good until 4.4 km from Bellavista but beyond this point the habitat had been clear cut.  The forest begins again at 7.5 km from Bellavista, but I strongly recommend that you to start looking for birds at 10.5 km from Bellavista at 1825 m.   This area is good for Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, White-tailed Hillstar and Nariño Tapaculo.  Along this route the forest will come to an end at 11.2 km from Bellavista at 1735 m elevation.   Eventually at 12.2 km from Bellavista, the Nono-Mindo road joins  the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia highway.  You can continue down into the Mindo valley and beyond along the left hand side or head back to Quito up to your right.


Birds to look for

Lower Montane Forest including Tandayapa Bird Lodge and the road below the town of Tandayapa

Pastures   (P), Second-growth (2G), Forest (F), hummingbird feeders (hf)

Common: Red-billed   Parrot (2G, F) , Tawny-bellied   Hermit (2G, F, hf) , Andean   Emerald (hf), Western Emerald (hf), Brown Inca (hf) , Buff-tailed Coronet   (hf), Booted Racket-tail (hf), Violet-tailed Sylph (hf), Purple-throated   Woodstar (hf), Slaty Spinetail (2G) , Red-faced Spinetail (2G, F), Streak-capped Treehunter (2G, F), Slaty Antwren (F), Long-tailed Antbird (2G, F), Golden Tanager (2G, F), Flame-faced Tanager (2G, F), Golden-naped Tanager (2G, F), Metallic-green Tanager (2G, F),    Beryl-spangled Tanager (2G, F), Black-capped Tanager (2G), Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager (2G, F), Black-winged Saltator (2G, F).

Uncommon: Black-and-chestnut   Eagle (2G, F), Rufous-bellied Nighthawk (2G, F), Lyre-tailed Nightjar (2G, F), Empress Brilliant (hf), Green-fronted Lancebill (hf), Golden-headed   Quetzal (2G, F), Red-headed   Barbet (2G, F), Toucan Barbet (2G,   F), Crimson-rumped Toucanet (2G,   F), Smoky-brown Woodpecker (2G,   F), Tyrannine Woodcreeper (F), Strong-billed   Woodcreeper (2G, F), Uniform   Antshrike (F), Immaculate Antbird (F), Rufous-breasted Antthrush (F),   Ochre-breasted Antpitta (2G, F),   Rufous-winged Tyrannulet (2G), Barred Becard (2G, F), Scaled Fruiteater (2G, F), Olivaceous Piha (F), Andean Cock-of-the-rock   (2G, F), Golden-winged Manakin   (F), Beautiful Jay (2G), Whiskered Wren (2G), White-capped Dipper (2G,   F), Yellow-faced Grassquit (P).

Rare:Fasciated   Tiger-Heron (2G, F), Semicollared Hawk (2G, F), Rufescent Screech-Owl (2G, F),   Spot-fronted Swift (2G, F), Little Woodstar (F), White-faced Nunbird (2G, F),   Nariño Tapaculo (F), Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia (2G, F),

For a complete Tandayapa Valley Bird checklist go   to:



Upper Montane Forest including Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge

Second-growth   (2G), Forest (F), hummingbird feeders (hf)

Common:  Gorgeted Sunangel (hf), Booted Racket-tail (hf), Purple-throated Woodstar (hf) , Masked Trogon (2G, F), Spotted Barbtail (2G,   F), Long-tailed Antbird (2G, F), Spillmann's Tapaculo (2G, F), Plain-tailed   Wren (2G),  Capped Conebill (2G, F), Golden Tanager (2G,   F), Flame-faced Tanager (2G, F), Golden-naped Tanager (2G, F),  Metallic-green Tanager (2G, F),   Beryl-spangled Tanager (2G, F), Grass-green Tanager (2G, F),Dusky Bush-Tanager (2G, F).

Uncommon: Plain-breasted   Hawk (2G, F), Sickle-winged Guan (2G, F), Scaly-naped Amazon  (2G, F), Band-winged Nightjar (2G),  Rufous-bellied Nighthawk  (2G, F), Violet-tailed Sylph (hf), Golden-headed Quetzal (2G, F), Toucan   Barbet (2G, F), Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (2G, F), Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (2G, F), Rusty-winged Barbtail (2G, F), Striped   Treehunter (2G, F), Strong-billed Woodcreeper (2G, F), Ocellated Tapaculo (F), Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant (F), Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant (F), Barred Becard (2G, F), Green-and-black   Fruiteater(2G, F) , Beautiful Jay (2G),    Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush (2G, F),  Sepia-brown Wren , Western Hemispingus (2G,   F), Plushcap (2G, F),White-winged Brush-Finch (2G).

Rare: Tawny-breasted   Tinamou (F), Rufous-banded Owl (F), Swallow-tailed Nightjar (2G, F), Long-tailed Sylph (hf), Crested Quetzal (F), White-faced Nunbird (2G,   F), Star-chested Treerunner (F), Flammulated Treehunter (F), Black Solitaire (F), Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia (2G, F),   Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager (2G, F), Tanager Finch (2G).

For a list of some of the birds in Bellavista go to:


Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


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