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You are here:3.10.3 San Lorenzo Area

3.10.3 San Lorenzo Area

The small town of San Lorenzo, situated at sea level, presently has about 20,000 inhabitants.  Before construction of the Ibarra-San Lorenzo Highway, this was a nearly inaccessible little village near the Colombian border.  Presently, San Lorenzo can be used as a base camp to explore and bird some of the Chocó lowland rainforest in the area.  This town gives access to bird species that elsewhere are very difficult to find.  Unfortunately, population growth, as well as immigration by Colombian citizens, is endangering the integrity of the few local protected areas.  The landscape is rapidly changing from what formerly was a lush and virtually pristine rain forest.  Some of the best areas to visit are the Yalare Reserve, Tundaloma Lodge and La Chiquita Road.   From San Lorenzo you can also access the Playa de Oro community and the Canandé Reserve.



Chocó Lowland Rain Forest, the “Pluvial Forest”.



San Lorenzo Area

There is plenty of public transportation from Ibarra to San Lorenzo and vice versa, and for further info read  Once in San Lorenzo you can hire a taxi or a pickup truck to move around the different areas.

You can also get to San Lorenzo from Esmeraldas city.   Esmeraldas has an airport and flights connecting with the major cities in Ecuador. There is bus transportation from Esmeraldas to San Lorenzo.  You can stay in any of the various Hotels in San Lorenzo.  You may find information regarding hotels in San Lorenzo at, I strongly recommend the Hotel Puerto Azul, phone number (6) 278 0220, with air conditioning, restaurant and accommodating staff.   Another of the best places to stay is the Tundaloma Lodge, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  You can also call their cell phone at 0977 88743.  Tundaloma lodge is a more upscale lodging and located some 17km away from San Lorenzo.  This lodge provides easy access to the different birding sites included in this chapter. The Tundaloma Lodge staff can also help you with transportation while you are staying in the lodge. Regardless to where you stay, I recommend at least a couple of days to explore the area.



In order to visit these sites you must take the Ibarra-San Lorenzo road continuing down to the lowlands after you have visited Lita and Alto Tambo and Palacara River and Tumbambiro Valley.   See the birding instructions in that chapter on how to get there.

Once leaving Alto Tambo, 91.7 km from the Pan-American Highway, head towards San Lorenzo for 41.7 km more or 133.4 km from the Pan-American Highway.   Here you will see the entrance to Tundaloma lodge on your right. 

(Click here to download Map. Areas near San Lorenzo).   

After entering the road to Tundaloma you will have to drive for only 0.3 km before you reach to the Tundaloma parking lot.  There is plenty bird activity around the lodge, as the Tululbí River is close to the lodge and has a road that runs along the shore.  This road is a good place to look for birds.  The inside forest trails are difficult to bird because they are very steep.   The main attractions of the lodge itself are the large, old tall trees which can be seen from various points at the lodge.  Views of these trees are especially good from the different decks in front of the social hall and dining room.   The big tree very close to dining room is a tall fig that is quite productive when fruiting.   With good fruiting conditions, look for:  Scaled Pigeon, Orange-fronted Barbet, Stripe-billed Araçari, Chocó Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Ecuadorian Thrush, White-vented, Thick-billed and Fulvous-vented EuphoniasRed-legged Honeycreeper, Blue-Dacnis, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Scarlet-browed and Gray-and gold Tanagers.

In September 2007 we found a nest of the rare and local Double-banded Graytail here.  Search the trees for the bulky nest made of thin twigs.  Once they have nested in a tree, the graytails tend to use their nests year after year. 

The tall trees toward the entrance from the highway are good places to look for the Blue Cotinga. A pair tends to perch on the exposed branches of the tree tops. The Tundaloma grounds, including the open areas, forest edges, and second-growth, provides habitat for many species that are widespread in this region.  These will be commonly seen also in La Chiquita road and the Yalare Reserve.

Look for:  Double-toothed kite, Pallid Dove, Crested Owl,  White-whiskered Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Pied Puffbird, Dusky Antbird, Chocó Tyrannulet, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Masked Water-Tyrant, Piratic,  Boat-billed, Rusty-margined and Gray-capped Flycatchers, Cinnamon Becard, Masked Tityra, Buff-rumped Warbler, Golden-hooded Tanager,  Lesser Seed-Finch and Orange-billed Sparrow. The Great Jacamar has also been seen visiting the tall trees by the lodge.  This seems to be an exceptional record, as this habitat is marginal for this species.

At dusk look for the Short-tailed Nighthawk flying and feeding through the canopy of the trees in front of the lodge.  Another species regularly seen in the lodge grounds is the Pacific-Parrotlet.  This is a species that is expanding its range from the Tumbesian region far to the south due to habitat disruption.  This species will undoubtedly soon be recorded in Colombia.

From the Tundaloma Lodge main entrance, point 133.4 km from the Pan-American Highway turn to the right when leaving and drive toward San Lorenzo.  You will cross a bridge over the Tululbí River, and at 1.4 km or 134.8 km from the Pan-American Highway, there is a turn to the left.  We will use the turn at this point for future references, as this is the start of the “Ruta del Spondylus” formerly known as Ruta del Sol, a highway that goes to the south along the coast of Ecuador.  This highway is also known as the Carretera Costanera, E15.  We will name it point 0.0 km from the start of The Ruta del Spondylus.

From the beginning of the The Ruta del Spondylus turn to the left and drive for 16.9 km. Remember, this highway heads south toward the city of Esmeraldas.

At this spot along the road there is a group of small houses with a dirt road crossing the main highway.  Take the road to your left leaving the highway behind.   Here we reset the odometer to 0.0 km, as this road proceeds to the small town of Concepción.   Along this road there will be many opportunities to look for birds, particularly where the road approaches the forest which begins at 3.4 km from the highway.  At 4.9 km on this road, there is a crossroad close to a house on the right.  The road to the left is closed by a chain hanging across.  Continue driving for another 1.1 km or 6.0 km from the highway, and at small wooden bridge over a stream look for birds along the road for 200 meters up and down the road on both sides of the bridge.

Of special interest here are two Ecuador rarities, Five-colored Barbet and Yellow-eared Toucanet. There are good chances for many other species here including;  Dusky Pigeon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Western White-tailed Trogon, Northern Violaceous Trogon, Black-breasted Puffbird, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Double-banded Graytail, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Western Slaty Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Western Sirystes, Gray Elaenia, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, White-ringed Flycatcher, Rufous Mourner, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, and Tawny-crested Tanager.

The highway going beyond the entrance road to Concepción or 16.9 km from the beginning of the Ruta del Spondylus, has good habitat along each side.   Only 1.3 km further south from the entrance to Concepción or 18.2 km from the start of the the Ruta del Spondylus, the forest stretches for 4.6 km until you reach a big bridge over the Santiago River.  This forest has new evidence of increasing deforestation.  This is very disturbing, as this area is theoretically part of the Yalare Reserve.  Many of the birds occurring along the way to Concepción are also here, and at times certain populations are better represented in this area.

At the Yalare Reserve along the highway look primarily for:  Dusky Pigeon, Red-lored Amazon, Bronzy Hermit, Stripe-billed Araçari, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-necked Puffbird,  Black-breasted Puffbird, Pied Puffbird, Western Slaty-Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, DuskyAntbird, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Black-tipped Cotinga, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis.

After returning to the beginning of the Ruta del Spondylus or 0.0 km, drive toward San Lorenzo for 4.5 km.  There will be a side road on your right.   This road cuts through the Chiquita Preserve.  Unfortunately, the Chiquita preserve area is shrinking as well, due to forest cutting. This road eventually goes to the small town of Ricaurte.  Many of the birds from Yalare also occur here. Worth mentioning especially are:   Semiplumbeous Hawk, Plumbeous Forest-Falcon, Rose-faced Parrot, Pacific Flatbill, Black-tipped and Blue Cotingas.

San Lorenzo is ahead only 11.5 km from the Chiquita road entrance, and only 16.8 km from the start of the the Ruta del Sol Higway.  After a visit to the San Lorenzo areas, while staying in the Tundaloma Lodge or any of the Hotels in San Lorenzo, a visit to Playa de Oro- Reserva Los Tigrillos will give you a great chance for many deep forest Chocó lowland specialties.


Birds to look for

Yalare Reseve, Tundaloma Lodge, La Chiquita Road.

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

Common: Pacific Parrotlet(2G), Chocó   Toucan (2G, F), Black-cheeked Woodpecker (2G, F), Western   Slaty-Antshrike (2G, F), Dusky Antbird(2G, F), Chestnut-backed   Antbird (F), Chocó Tyrannulet(2G, F), Sooty-headed Tyrannulet (2G), Scale-crested   Pygmy-Tyrant (2G), Ochre-bellied Flycatcher (F), Masked Water-Tyrant (G),   Piratic Flycatcher (2G, F), Boat-billed Flycatcher (2G, F), Rusty-margined   Flycatcher (2G, F) Gray-capped Flycatcher (2G), Cinnamon Becard (2G, F), White-bearded   Manakin (2G), Bay Wren (2G, F), Lesser Greenlet (2G, F), Ecuadorian Thrush (2G),   Green Honeycreeper (2G, F), Blue Dacnis (2G, F), Yellow-tufted Dacnis (2G,   F), Lemon-rumped Tanager (2G, F), Thick-billed Euphonia(2G, F), Lesser Seed-Finch (G) and Orange-billed Sparrow (2G).

Uncommon: Gray-headed Kite (F), Double-toothed Kite (2G, F), Bat Falcon (F),   Scaled Pigeon(F), Dusky   Pigeon(F), Pallid Dove(2G, F),   Blue Ground-Dove (2G, F), Red-lored Amazon (F), Bronzy Hermit(2G, F), White-whiskered Hermit (2G, F), Stripe-throated   Hermit (2G, F), Purple-chested Hummingbird(2G, F), Blue-chested Hummingbird (2G, F), Bronze-tailed   Plumeleteer (2G, F), Purple-crowned Fairy (2G, F), Western White-tailed   Trogon (F), Slaty-tailed Trogon (F), Northern   Violaceous Trogon (2G, F), White-necked Puffbird (F), Black-breasted Puffbird (F), Pied   Puffbird (2G, F), Orange-fronted Barbet(2G,   F), Stripe-billed Araçari (2G, F), Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (2G, F), Lita   Woodpecker (2G, F), Cinnamon Woodpecker (F), Guayaquil Woodpecker (2G, F),   Black-striped Woodcreeper(2G, F), Brown-capped Tyrannulet (F), Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant (2G),   Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher (2G, F),   Gray Elaenia (F),Yellow-margined Flatbill (2G), Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher (F),   Gray-capped Flycatcher (2G), White-ringed Flycatcher(F), Western Sirystes (F), Masked Tityra (2G, F), Purple-throated Fruitcrow (2G,   F),  Tawny-faced Gnatwren (F),   Buff-rumped Warbler (2G, F),    Red-legged Honeycreeper (2G, F), Golden-hooded Tanager (2G, F),   Tawny-crested Tanager (2G, F), Dusky-faced Tanager (2G, F), Gray-and-gold   Tanager (2G, F), Scarlet-browed Tanager (2G, F),White-vented Euphonia (2G, F),    Fulvous-vented Euphonia (2G, F).

Rare: Semiplumbeous Hawk (F),   Plumbeous Forest-Falcon (F),   Rose-faced Parrot (F),   Short-tailed Nighthawk (F), Great Jacamar   (F), Five-colored Barbet (F),   Yellow-eared Toucanet (F), Chocó   Trogon (F), Double-banded Graytail (2G, F), Inmaculate Antbird(2G, F),   Pacific Flatbill (F), Rufous   Mourner (F),Slate-throated   Gnatcatcher (F), Black-tipped Cotinga (2G,G), Blue Cotinga( F), Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (2G,   F), Scarlet-breasted Dacnis(2G, F).

For further information on the birds of Tundaloma and some of the areas near it visit //

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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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