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You are here:2.2.5 Mashpi Road

2.2.5 Mashpi Road

From the birding perspective Mashpi Road is a recently discovered site.  In 2008 ornithologist Alejandro Solano surveying the area was able to find a healthy population of the rare and range restricted Indigo Flowerpiercer.  Subsequent investigation has demonstrated the area to be of high importance for the conservation and birdwatching.  The road is located in Pichincha Province and covers elevation ranging from 1600 m to 800 m.  Metropolitang Touring has an 1162 hectare private reserve but the reserve is not open to visitors.  The dirt road connecting the Quito-Calacalí-La independencia with the Mashpi reserve is a place where many Chocó range restricted specialties can be seen.



Lower Montane Forest.



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 Mashpi Road.

This site should be combined with the visit to the Oilbird Cave.  A good strategy would be to visit Mashpi road in the early morning, and during the afternoon dedicate the less active birding time to look for the Oilbird.  No special arrangements are needed to visit the road. The road can be driven yearround, and high clearance vehicle is not needed but is recommended.



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 Ave. De la Prensa and Ave. Mariscal Antonio de Sucre, at the driving circle northwest of the city.  From Nanegalito, at 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. Mashpi Road).

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 divide.  The dirt road heads to Chontal, and the Oilbird cave.  Take the asphalt main road heading to Gualea and Mashpi.  Drive on for 3.5 km, or 16.5 km from “La Armenia”.   Here you will drive through Gualea.

Continue for 8.2 km, or 24.7 km from La Armenia.  At this point you pass through Pacto. Continue on 1.2 km, or 25.9 km from La Armenia.  Here you will find another split in the road. The right hand road is signed to Paraiso, and the left road is signed to Delicia.  Take a left turn and drive on for 2.5 km, or 28.4 km from La Armenia.  At this point you will pass through Pacto Loma.

Drive on another 4.3 km, or 32.7 km from La Armenia.  If you see any off roads or divides along the way, just stay on the main road.   At this point you will arrive to a place where the road starts descending and forest patches occur in both sides.  This low “pass” is at an elevation of 1600 m.

Park here and explore the forest patches down the road.  The first place to look for the Indigo Flowerpiercer is some 1.1 km on down, or 33.8 km from La Armenia.   The road cuts having scrubby vegetation are particularly preferred by this flowerpiercer.  The road continues with several habitat places to look for the flowerpiercer along such road cuts, and these forest patches stretch for a quite a good distance.

Continue driving for 3.8 km, or 37.6 km from La Armenia.  Here you will find yet another road divide.  The left fork goes to Metropolitang Touring’s reserve.  As of June, 2010, the reserve was not open to the public.  The main road continues downhill where you should also concentrate you efforts at the forest patch some 6.0 km further ahead or 43.6 km from La Armenia.  This forest patch extends for 0.7 km, to a point 44.3 km from La Armenia, and is at an elevation of 865 m.   A morning of birding along this road will give you the chance to find birds that are hard to come by in other regions of the Northwest.  Look here for:  Pacific Tuftedcheek, Uniform Treehunter, Russet Antshrike, Golden-winged Manakin, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Chocó Warbler, Glistening-green Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Moss-backed Tanager and Yellow-collared Chlorophonia.

The road continues down to a much lower elevation, but the areas ahead had been mainly developed for farming and ranching.


Birds to look for

Mashpi Road

Forest (F), Second-growth (2G).

Common: Streak-necked   Flycatcher (F,2G), Ornate Flycatcher (F,2G), Cinnamon Flycatcher (F,2G), Chocó Warbler (F,2G), Glistening-green Tanager (F,2G), Rufous-throated Tanager (F,2G), Black-chinned   Mountain-Tanager (F,2G), Moss-backed Tanager (F).

Uncommon: Pacific   Tuftedcheek (F),   Uniform Treehunter (F),   Russet Antshrike (F,2G), Golden-winged Manakin (F), Orange-breasted Fruiteater (F), Indigo   Flowerpiercer (F,2G), Yellow-collared   Chlorophonia (F,2G).

Rare: Beautiful   Jay (F,2G), Black Solitaire (F).

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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