01 October 2011

Planning: Quito to Tandayapa

Our arrival in Quito, via Seattle and Miami, would see us arriving a little before 6pm, just minutes before sunset. After a long day of travelling, and after going through customs, collecting our bags, and picking up a rental car, staying overnight in Quito was a no-brainer. It really didn't matter where we chose to stay, though I did pick a hotel relatively close to the airport and in close proximity to the direction we were going to travel the next day. The Radisson Royal Quito Hotel seemed to fit the bill.

The first 7 days of our trip are going to be spent on the western slope, ranging from the Nono-Mindo Road that starts a short ways out of Quito, to Rio Silanche about 200 kms to the west. Our first day of birding will be along the Nono-Mindo Road, a popular birding destination through a mix of rural farmland and pockets of remnant forest. The Nono-Mindo road used to be the main road heading west out of Quito, but the relatively new A Los Bancos highway, located further north, has significantly reduced the volume of traffic owing to its shorter travel time between major destinations.

Tandayapa Lodge is our first birding node. It is located about 50 km west of the Quito airport, and for the most part, specifically caters to birders.  We will be spending three nights at the lodge, but likely will spend only one day birding the immediate trails that wind through the property. Our second day will be spent birding at and near the Bellavista Lodge, another ecolodge catering largely to birders and birding. Tandayapa and Bellavista are not all that far apart, and although they share a number of similar species, there are some notable differences that apparently make spending a day at each well worth the time. Both lodges are renowned for their hummingbirds, each attracting from 15 to 20 species on any given day. They also support numerous other birder ammentities, such as blinds and fruit feeders. While too numerous too list, the birds of Bellavista Lodge can be found here, and the birds of Tandayapa Lodge can be found here.