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You are here:2.2.4 The Oilbird Cave. Pacto-Gualéa road

2.2.4 The Oilbird Cave. Pacto-Gualéa road

The Oilbird cave is on private farm with forest only in the more inaccessible slopes. The most relevant issue is the opportunity to see the Oilbird grotto. Otherwise you won´t be able to see this species.



Lower Montane Forest



The Oilbird Cave

There are many buses running on the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia Highway that goes by La Armenia where you can hire a pickup truck to take you to the Oilbird cave.

In order to assure that someone will be waiting for you and assist you with your visit, you can arrange a visit by calling the cell phone number: 082671837.   The owners do not speak fluent English. The entrance fee is $5 US per person. They also have a small, basic museum with some pottery and other items on display.

There are opportunities to bird along the road and in the area surrounding the cave.  All birding will depend on weather.   As most of the birding is in second-growth, or in the more open developed areas, I strongly recommend a visit to this site in the afternoon after you have devoted the better hours in the morning in a more productive area.

You will be watching the Oilbirds from the distance and binoculars will be sufficient to watch the birds.  For astonishing views you might think about taking a spotting scope. There is a way to enter the ravine from the upper part.  This is not recommended because is risky.  A much more important consideration, however, is that by approaching the Oilbirds grotto via the upper part you will be disturbing the birds.  Do not go this way.



The Oilbird Cave.

Drive the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia Highway from the entrance to Maquipucuna  at Nanegalito which is 56.4 km from Quito.  You begin at the Autopista. Dr. Manuel Cordova Galarza, which begins at the intersection of Av. De la Prensa and Av. Mariscal Antonio de Sucre, at the driving circle northwest of the city.   From Nanegalito (0.0km), drive for 3.5 km toward Mindo.  Here you will see a side road onto your right signed “La Armenia”.

An easier way to visit the place will be starting from The Mindo Valley.  Beginning at the “Mindo turn off”, drive for 18.7 km towards Quito.   The side road will be on your left and signed to “La Armenia”.

(Click here to download Map. Oilbird Cave).

From this entrance along the highway, 0.0 km, you will go to the small town of Santa Elena at 6.3km, then Tulipe at 9.6 km, and at 13.0 km from the highway you will find a fork. The asphalt main road heads to Gualea and Mashpi. Take the right hand dirt road that will be signed “El Chontal”.  Proceed another 5.2 km along this road or 18.2 km from the highway.   Here you will see another split in the road.   Take the left hand road heading to Bellavista which is 24.6 km from the highway. Continue along this road for 5.2 km more, or 29.8 km from the highway and you will reach to a driveway on your left.   The gate might be closed, but go ahead and enter.   Visitors are always welcome here.  The main farm house is only 100 m from the road.  From this point you will meet the owner of the property who will lead you, or you can take your own four wheel drive vehicle.  The farm owner will take you down on a wagon pulled by their tractor.  The ride will be close to 3km through the agricultural fields. Once you stop driving inside their property, you will continue by foot. The walk is not difficult, because the 1.5 km trail, each way, is well maintained.   You will have to go down some 300+ steps to access the bottom of a grotto to the place where you can view the Oilbirds.


Birds to look for

The Oilbird Cave.

Second   –growth (2G), Forest (F), Pastures (P).

Common: Band-tailed Pigeon (2G), Oilbird (F), Ornate   Flycatcher (2G), Flavescent Flycatcher (2G), Three-striped Warbler (2G), Golden Tanager (2G), Beryl-spangled   Tanager (2G), Black-capped Tanager (2G).

Uncommon: Barred Hawk (2G), Bronze-winged Parrot (2G, F), Green   Violetear (hf), Sparkling Violetear (2G), Slaty Antwren (2G), Fawn-breasted   Tanager (2G), Buff-throated   Saltator (2G), Yellow-faced Grassquit (P).

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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