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You are here:4.2.9 Loreto Road and Narupa Reserve

4.2.9 Loreto Road and Narupa Reserve

The Loreto road, officially known as the Jondachi-Hollín-Loreto-Coca Road, connects the cities of Baeza in the eastern Andes with the town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana in the Amazonian lowlands. Puerto Francisco de Orellana is commonly known as “Coca”. The total extension of the road is roughly 136 km. The road sides do not have any conservation status and portions are developed for farming and ranching. A few important forest areas still remain in the area and most of the birding will be along different stages of second growth forest.

This famous birding area was open to the public in 1987 and besides providing access to good birding just along the road it is also the gateway to visit the Wildsumaco Lodge and the Narupa Reserve. The Narupa Reserve was created in 2006 and is protected by the Jocotoco Foundation.  It is a 400 hectare preserve but there are plans to increase its size in the near future. The birding areas range from 1150 m to 700 m of elevation, near Loreto in Napo province.



Foothill Forest



Loreto Road and Narupa Reserve

The birding sites along the Loreto road are near Jondachi village and Hollín River.  There is sporadic bus transportation running from Baeza to Loreto.  It is always better to hire a vehicle from either Baeza or Archidona.  The best way of accessing the Loreto road is to have your own vehicle. You can visit this area starting from either Baeza or Archidona.  Using Cabañas San Isidro, Orchids Paradise Lodge or Wildsumaca Lodge as point to access the road is probably the best approach to visit the site.  Read the respective chapters describing how to get to these lodges them in each of their chapters in this book.



Loreto Road and Narupa Reserve

You can visit the Loreto road after visiting the Guacamayos Ridge or the Orchid’s Paradise Lodge.  To get instructions as for how to get into these sites, again, please see the birding instructions on the respective chapter on how to get there.  

The small village of Jondachi, which is the beginning of the Loreto road, is located 23.1 km from the Guacamayos ridge trail or 24.4 km from the small town of Archidona.

At the start of the Jondachi-Hollín-Loreto-Coca road along the along the Baeza-Tena highway or E45 reset your odometer to 0.0 km.  

(Click here to download Map. Loreto Road and Narupa Reserve).

Drive toward the east and stop at any patch of forest you are able to find, particularly at those at abandoned quarries.  Near the first quarry at 2.7 km, the rare Pink-throated Brilliant and Fiery-throated Fruiteater have been seen. Here along the road, in any of the steeper and forested gullies with running water, you might find the White-tailed Hillstar

In tall second-growth you can find Gray-chinned Hermit, Wire-crested Thorntail, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Ash-browed Spinetail, Dark-breasted Spinetail,  Dusky Spinetail, Buff fronted Foliage-gleaner, Equatorial Graytail, Black-billed Treehunter, Yellow-breasted Antwren, White-backed Fire-eye, Blackish Antbird, Northern White-crowned Tapaculo, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Olive-chested Flycatcher, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Yellow-cheeked Becard, Wing-banded Wren, Olivaceous Greenlet, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Bronze-green Euphonia, Orange-eared Tanager, Golden Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager and Magpie Tanager. You can walk down the road for a further 1.4 km or 4.0 km from the start of the Loreto Road until where the forest gives away to pasture land. Continue driving for a further 6.6 km or 10.6 km from the start of the Loreto Road until you pass a big quarry. From this point there will be forest and you continue downhill birding on foot.

As you bird your way to a site 11.2 km from the Baeza-Tena Highway, or E45, you will get to a place just before entering a pronounced bend to the left.  Park here and look for birds at the outlook.  You can see a tall cliff on the left side of the road that is a product of the deep road cut along the forested ridge.  Here on the cliff face look for the Cliff Flycatcher, and at dusk for Lyre-tailed Nightjar.   At times the Blackish Nightjar can be also seen in the bare grounds surrounding the area.

The outlook on the right hand side of the road is also a good place to look for birds, as you will see the forest canopy below you.  At this spot there is also a forest trail that climbs along the ridge and goes into the forest.   It follows the top of the ridge and descends after reaching the summit of the ridge.  This forest trail is muddy and can be difficult to walk.  You will need rubber boots.  You must also have good knees and condition to take this trail and back.

There is good birding here, and many of the above mentioned bird species occur here. Along this trail also look for Napo Sabrewing, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Striolated Puffbird, Black-mandibled Toucan, Golden-collared Toucanet, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Long-tailed Woodcreeper, Foothill Antwren, Plain-backed Antpitta, Chesnut-crowned Gnateater, Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, Blue-rumped Manakin, Gray-mantled Wren, Fulvous Shrike-Tanager and inside the better forest Short-tailed Antthrush, Rufous-breasted Antthrush and Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant.

This forest overlook along the road, and other overview sites are good places to look for the rare Military Macaw and Spot-winged Parrotlet. The start of the trail is also a good place for the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

Drive down the hill for another 1.9 km, or 13.1 km from the Baeza-Tena Highway (E45).  Stop here and search the cliff way up on the mountain to the left.  In recent years this cliff has had an active nest of the Orange-breasted Falcon. Remember that the falcon can also be seen perched in surrounding areas particularly at the bend located a further 0.6 km down the road or 13.6 km from the start of the Loreto Road.

Drive for further 1.9 km toward Loreto or 15.0 km from the Baeza-Tena Highway (E45). Here at a sharp bend to the right there is a wide spot on the left where you can park. Here at this parking site you will find the beginning of a nice trail cutting through forest. This trail gives you access to the Narupa Reserve own by the Jocotoco Fundation. The trail runs parallel to the Hollín Chico River where you can look for the Fasciated Tiger-Heron and the White-capped Dipper. The trail carries on to a bridge over the river. From the bridge the trail heads up the mountain into forest. The first section of trail once you cross the bridge is an excellent place to look for the recently described Foothill Elaenia. The section of trail from this second-growth  back to the highway is a good place to look for birds, not only because it is an easy walk but also for the number of species that you can find along it. Look here for Lafresnaye´s Piculet, Ash-browed Spinetail, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Ornate Flycatcher, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Bronze-green Euphonia, Paradise Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, Golden Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager and Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager. The dipper forest trail will give you the opportunity to search for much harder to see birds: Gray Tinamou, Black Tinamou, Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Gould´s Jewelfront, Russet Antshrike, Spot-backed Antbird, Short-tailed Antthrush, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Plain-backed Antpitta, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Blue-rumped Manakin, Wing-banded Wren and Fulvous Shrike-Tanager.

Continuing along the highway for further 1.1 km or 16.1 km from the Baeza-Tena Highway (E45) you will get to “Comedor Susanita”. This restaurant is a good place to eat. Here you can pay your entrance to visit the Narupa Reserve. Comedor Susanita has a few hummingbird feeders and the White-tailed Hillstar is quite reliable.


Birds to look for

Loreto Road and Narupa Reserve

Second Growth Forest (2GF), Forest (F), River (R).            

Common: Little Tinamou (2GF, F), Gray-chinned Hermit (2GF, F), Violet-headed   Hummingbird (2GF, F), Fork-tailed Woodnymph (2GF, F), Golden-olive Woodpecker   (2GF, F), Dark-breasted Spinetail (2GF), Ash-browed Spinetail (2GF, F), Lined   Antshrike (2GF), Blackish Antbird (2GF), Olive-striped Flycatcher (2GF, F),

Ornate Flycatcher (2GF, F), Olive-chested Flycatcher (2GF),   Smoke-colored Pewee (2GF, F), Inca Jay (2GF, F), Olivaceous Greenlet (2GF,   F), Canada Warbler (2GF, F), Blue-necked Tanager (2GF, F), Golden Tanager   (2GF, F), Paradise Tanager (2GF, F), Green-and-gold Tanager (2GF, F), Spotted   Tanager (2GF, F), Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager (2GF, F), Grayish Saltator   (2GF), Chestnut-bellied Seedeater (2GF), Orange-billed Sparrow (2GF).

Uncommon: Fasciated Tiger-Heron (R), Barred Hawk (F), Foothill Screech-Owl   (F), Lyre-tailed Nightjar (2GF), Blackish Nightjar (2GF), Green Hermit (2GF,   F), Napo Sabrewing (F), Wire-crested Throntail (2GF, F), Golden-tailed   Sapphire (2GF, F), Ecuadorian Piedtail (2GF, F),  Rufous-vented Whitetip (2GF, F),   White-tailed Hillstar (2GF, F), Coppery-chested Jacamar (2GF, F), Striolated   Puffbird (F), Red-headed Barbet (2GF, F), Golden-collared Toucanet (2GF, F),   Chestnut-tipped Toucanet (2GF, F), Lafresnaye´s Piculet (2GF, F),   Black-billed Treehunter (2GF, F), Long-tailed Woodcreeper (F), Russet   Antshrike (2GF, F), Stripe-chested Anywren (2GF), Foothill Antwren (2GF, F),   Yellow-breasted Antwren (2GF, F), Black Antbird (2GF), Spot-backed Antbird   (F), White-backed Fire-eye (2GF, F), Short-tailed Antthrush (F),   Rufous-breasted Antthrush (F), Plain-backed Antpitta (F), Chesnut-crowned Gnateater   (F), Northern White-crowned Tapaculo (2GF, F), Ecuadorian Tyrannulet (2GF,   F), Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant (2GF, F), Foothill Elaenia (2GF, F),   Fulvous-breasted Flatbill (2GF, F), Cliff Flycatcher (2GF, F), Rufous-tailed   Tyrant (2GF), Lemon-browed Flycatcher (2GF, F), Yellow-checked Becard (2GF,   F),  Andean Cock-of-the-rock (F),   Blue-rumped Manakin (F), Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo (2GF, F), Wing-banded Wren   (2GF, F), White-capped Dipper (R), Blue-naped Chlorophonia (2GF, F), Blue   Dacnis (2GF, F), Black-faced Dacnis (2GF, F), Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer (2GF,   F), Bronze-green Euphonia (2GF, F), Bay-headed Tanager (2GF, F),Orange-eared   Tanager (2GF, F), Golden-eared Tanager (2GF, F), Yellow-bellied Tanager   (2GF), Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager (2GF, F), Fulvous Shrike-Tanager (F), Slate-colored   Grosbeak (2GF, F), Olivaceous Siskin (2GF, F).

Rare: Gray Tinamou (F), Black Tinamou (F), Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail (F),   Military Macaw (F), Spot-winged Parrotlet (2GF, F), Many-spotted Hummingbird   (2GF, F), Pink-throated Brilliant (2GF, F), Gould´s Jewelfront (F), Black-mandibled   Toucan (F),Equatorial Graytail (2GF, F), Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (2GF, F),   Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant (F), Fiery-throated Fruiteater (2GF, F),   Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater (F), Gray-mantled Wren (2GF, F), Cerulean Warbler   (2GF).

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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