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2.0.0 Introduction

The Northwest: Highlands to the lowlands near Quito

Starting in Quito as its gateway, the Northwest of Ecuador offers access to a great number of resorts, lodges and hotels, many private reserves and to some of the protected areas run by the Ecuadorian Government.  Many of the birding sites in the Northwest are easily accessible and provide the opportunity to look for a number of highly restricted birds found only in the lowlands and mountain forest of the Chocó region of northwestern Ecuador and western Colombia. The rainy season extends from late December to early May but the birding is good yearround.

2.1 The Old Mindo Road

The famous Old Nono-Mindo Road starting in Quito will take the birder through many different habitats from above treeline, above 3600m, to the western foothills in the Mindo Valley at 1300m.   The road has almost no public transportation and therefore access to the different lodges and Hotels requires the birder to either hire a taxi or rent his own vehicle.  

Biogeography Regions: Chocó Lowlands, North-west Slope of Andes (Montane Chocó), High Andes.


2.2The Quito-Calacali-La Independencia Highway.

Connecting Quito with the Western Lowlands and ranging from 200 m to 2870 m, the Quito- Calacali-La Independencia highway was inaugurated on 1991 and allows birders to visit many different habitats and elevations along the western slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. There is plentiful public transportation by bus, and many facilities to stay ranging from very cheap hotels in the different towns to the most exclusive hotels. 

Biogeography Regions: Chocó Lowlands, North-west Slope of Andes (Montane Chocó), Inter-Andean Valleys (Andean Montane Scrub).


2.3 The Chiriboga Road.

The Chiriboga road was once the main road connecting Quito with the lowlands in the west. This road will take you through many different habitats from above treeline to the western foothills near the Tinalandia Lodge (700 meters). Because this road has very little public transportation there are only very basic places to stay. The Chiriboga road allows you to visit the Rio Guajalito Reserve and its surrounding forest. You need to hire private transportation to visit this road.


Biogeography Regions: Chocó Lowlands, North-west Slope of Andes (Montane Chocó).


(Click here to download MAP The North West)

More in this category: 2.1.1 Yanacocha and Verdecocha. »

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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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