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You are here:2.2.6 Refugio Paz de Las Aves

2.2.6 Refugio Paz de Las Aves

2.2.6 Refugio Paz de Las Aves.


The Refugio Paz de Las Aves is a private property of 120 hectare, of which 70 hectare are the forest protected by the Paz family. The site is located at roughly 1850 m in elevation.  Most of the protected area consists of steep primary forest.  The Paz brothers, Angel and Rodrigo, are the local guides on their land, and are certainly well able to look for the best places to find the bird specialties protected at their property.   Many of the birds from Refugio Paz de Las Aves can be also seen in the Mindo Valley, but their place is world famous because is one of the few places anywhere to see at least four antpitta species without disturbing their behavior by means of sound play back.  The brothers, nearly miraculously, call these species in with food and gentle calls.


Middle Montane Forest.



Refugio Paz de Las Aves.

This site can be visited from Quito by taking the Quito-Calacali-La   Independencia Highway.  To have a successful experience at the preserve with the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek and the Antpittas, it is necessary for you to arrive at, or slightly before, dawn.   An early visit to this private owned reserve will be more easily realized if you start from the Mindo valley or any place of lodging in the vicinity of the site, and not from Quito. The Paz family does have a place where small groups can stay at a place owned by a neighboring property of the Refugio Paz de Las Aves.  Before you visit the site, and to avoid overcrowding along the trails, it is better to pre-book prior to your visit.   It is always better if you arrange your visit at least two months prior to touring the preserve.  At times there are no visitors, but the place is quite popular among nature loving tourists.   Call 087253674 to talk to Angel.   Please be prepared to use your best Spanish as Angel´s English languages skills are a work in progress.  The number is 22116243 at Angel´s home phone number or 084503188 for Rodrigo´s cell phone number. There is plenty of public transportation along the main highway but no public transportation to the site. Angel and Rodrigo can provide transportation as they own a Mistsubishi crew cab pickup truck as of January, 2009.   Pickup trucks can also be hired from Nanegalito and the town of Mindo.

The side road heading to the site might be muddy, especially during the rainy season.  Even when visiting the place at any time, a high clearance vehicle is recommended and essential during the rainy season from December to May. 



Refugio Paz de Las Aves.

Drive along the Quito-Calacali-La Independencia Highway and from the entrance to Maquipucuna right at Nanegalito which is 56.4 km from Quito.  You begin this 56.4 km journey along the Ave. Dr Manuel Cordova Galarza which starts on the intersection of Av. De la Prensa and Av. Mariscal Antonio Jose de Sucre at a driving circle on the northwest end of the city.   From Nanegalito drive for a further 9.7 km towards Mindo and right before entering a pronounced bend to the left.    There is an obscure side dirt road on the left hand side to the Refugio Paz de Las Aves.  The entrance will be tricky and you will have to be careful because of the cars driving along the highway. 

An easier way to visit the place would be by starting from The Mindo Valley.  Taking as a reference the “Mindo turn off”, drive for 12.5 km towards Quito.   A dirt side road will be on your right when coming out of a pronounced bend to the right.   This access road that goes to the preserve is badly signed and easy to miss.  Again, the entrance will be tricky and you have to be careful because of the highway traffic.

(Click here to download Map. Refugio Paz English).


From the entrance along the highway 0.0 km, you have to drive for 4.3 km.  There won’t be any confusing side roads up to the point you reach the preserve.  You will cross over 2 streams, once across water and once on a bridge.   After this point you will have the only fork in the road. Take the left track uphill and continue for only 100 meters more.   The road continues along the developed farmland inside the Paz family land.   At the 100 meter spot you will see two houses on your left, and a place to park.  From this point the rest of the visit will be performed by foot.  Soon after the trail begins it steeply enters the forest.   The Paz brothers have put plenty of work on these forest trails, constructing railings, steps and a couple of places to rest.  They have built a blind to observe the Andean-cock-of-the-Rock lek, and a blind for fruit eating birds.  Though the trails are very well kept, they can be muddy, especially during the rainy season.   Good boots are required and walking sticks will be welcome, as the trails can be steep in places.  If you have a bad back or knees you should consider your limitations before enduring the strenuous walking on these trails.  As you consider your own physical condition, keep in mind that these steep trails might be your best, if not your only, chance to see the Dark-backed Wood-Quail, and the Giant, Yellow-breasted, Moustached and Ochre-breasted Antpittas.  The early morning walks will also require that you to bring a flash light or a headlamp that allow your hands to be free to negotiate the trails. The best months to look for the Andean Cock-of-the-rock are from September to November.   The fruit feeders are shut off during the rainy season, but the antpittas can be regularly seen year around.


Birds to look for

Refugio Paz de Las Aves.

Second–growth   (2G), Forest (F), Hummingbird feeders (hf), Grasslands (G).

Common: Band-tailed Pigeon (2G,F), Tawny-bellied Hermit (hf),   Brown Violetear (hf), Purple-bibbed Whitetip (hf), Fawn-breasted Brilliant   (hf), Brown Inca (hf), Collared Inca (hf), Velvet-purple Coronet (hf), Buff-tailed   Coronet (hf), Booted Racket-tail (hf), Violet-tailed Sylph (HF), Andean Emerald   (hf), Purple-throated Woodstar (hf), Ornate Flycatcher (2G, F), Flavescent   Flycatcher (2G, F), Three-striped Warbler (2G, F), Golden Tanager (2G, F),   Beryl-spangled Tanager (2G, F), Black-capped Tanager (2G, F), Blue-winged   Mountain-Tanager (2G, F).

Uncommon: Barred Hawk (F), Golden-headed Quetzal (2G,F), Toucan   Barbet (2G,F),

Sickle-winged   Guan (F), Red-billed Parrot (2G, F), Rufous-bellied Nighthawk ( F), Green   Violetear (hf), Sparkling Violetear (hf), Empress Brilliant (hf), Speckled   Hummingbird (hf), White-bellied Woodstar (hf), Masked Trogon ( F), Crimson-rumped   Toucanet (2G,F), Spotted Barbtail (2G, F), Rusty-winged Barbtail ( F), Uniform   Treehunter ( F), Tyrannine Woodcreeper (F), Strong-billed Woodcreeper (2G,   F), Uniform   Antshrike ( F), Slaty Antwren (2G, F), Nariño Tapaculo (F), Barred Becard (2G,   F), Club-winged   Manakin (F), Andean Cock-of-the-rock (F), Fawn-breasted Tanager (2G, F), Flame-faced Tanager (2G, F), Black-chinned   Mountain-Tanager (2G, F),  Black-winged Saltator (2G), Yellow-faced   Grassquit (G), White-winged Brush-Finch (2G).

Rare: Barred Forest-Falcon ( F), Dark-backed Wood-Quail
  ( F), Barred Parakeet (2G, F), Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet (2G, F),   Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl (F), Rufescent Screech-Owl    

( F), Crested   Quetzal ( F), White-faced Nunbird (F), Giant Antpitta (F), Moustached   Antpitta    ( F), Yellow-breasted   Antpitta ( F), Ochre-breasted Antpitta (F), Orange-breasted Fruiteater (F), Scaled   Fruiteater (F), Olivaceous Piha ( F), Beautiful Jay (2G, F).

More in this category: « 2.2.5 Mashpi Road 2.2.7 Mindo Loma »

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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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