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3.8 La Bonita road

La Bonita road is a remote un-surfaced road running almost parallel to the Colombian border in Ecuador. The road in true connects the cities of Julio Andrade, along the Pan American highway (E35) in El Carchi province, with the small towns of Santa Barbara, La Bonita and Lumbaquí along the Quito-Puerto Francisco de Orellana Highway (E45) in Sucumbios province, ranging from 3400 m to 500 m. The section of the road that is most important from the birding point of view is the habitat ranging from 2900 m to 2300 m located near by the town of Santa Barbara where Middle Montane forest patches can be accessed close by the road. There is not a current conservation status for the area and for many years the area was considered to be dangerous due the proximity with the Colombian border and the influence of Colombian Guerrillas on the area.



Upper & Middle Montane Forest.



There is no reliable public transportation along the road and a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance is essential. No special arrangements are needed but actualized information regarding the safety of the place should be asked before visiting the site.

The way to access the site will be to stay in Julio Andrade at a basic hotel and take a very early morning drive to pass Santa Barbara for a couple of hours and then return to Julio Andrade for the afternoon and continue your trip along the Pan American highway. You can stay in the very basic Hotel Alejandra on Calle Sucre.:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::



La Bonita Road.

You could try to visit this place after you have visited any of the other northernmost sites in Ecuador, Reserva Guanderas, Cerro Mongus, Chilma Alto or Paramo de El Angel.

A good point to start with instructions is the start of the side road entrance to El Angel city along the Pan American Highway, this point of reference is described in any of the sites mentioned above. We will call this point 0.0 km for future references. From this point keep on driving toward San Gabriel and beyond toward Tulcan for 33.9 km, at this point you will be in the town of Julio Andrade.


Birds to look for

La Bonita Road.


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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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