On our last full day of adventure in Ecuador, we booked a day trip with Tropical Birding, a tour company which offers birding trips in several exotic locales, based on the amazing trip report I found at the Accidental Birder. We were extremely happy with our decision to use this particular company; the service was amazing, and the trip was, well, let me just show you where we went:
We have a blissfully quiet morning, sleeping in until the sun is high at 8am. The morning markets of Quito is already bustling when we get breakfast at the panaderia. We walk from Old Town to the Mariscal Sucre district, pausing at Foch Plaza. A hopeful sunglasses salesman follow us for 3 blocks attempting to get us to buy something from him.
Our real destination is the Jardín Botánico de Quito, the botanical gardens. It seems much smaller than its grand name announces, though it is very restive and beautiful regardless. Well, except for the giant bug statues everywhere, but those are just fun.
We wake up at 5:45am, a welcome respite from the last few early starts we have had. At 6:15 every morning, there is a guided morning walk around the lodge driveway, where many birds can be seen. Several pairs of masked trogons and turquoise jays flit around the signposts, gates, and woven lamps to capture the few moths who are too slow to move out of their havens with the sunrise.
Gah, this post didn’t get scheduled with the others. It will forever haunt me that this is out of order, but it will make me even more haunted to know that it is sitting in my already-full draft folder for eternity. So here it is, for your reading pleasure.
Palabra del día: mojado
We must get up at 5:00am again so that we can eat breakfast and meet our guide at the canoe dock by 6am. We say our goodbyes to our native guide and begin the walk back to the Rio Napo. Unlike the other groups walking nearby, we have no guide on the walk back (our guide was already with the couple and older gentleman), so we are free to walk as fast or slow as we want.
We wake up at 4:30am, ready to start the day with a trip to Refugio Paz de las Aves, commonly known as Angel Paz, a private reserve with a cock-of-the-rock lek, several rare birds, and a very intriguing family of owners. We arrive at the cock-of-the-rock lek just before sunrise and meet one of the owners, Angel, who explains to us that we will have a fantastic day today and that we will also be joined in the blind by a professional photographer. In only a few moments, I am impressed by Angel’s candor and fervor for his land and the creatures living on it. Our guide for the day interrupts our short conversation to tell Angel I don’t understand a word he’s saying. Before I can respond, Angel pops off that I know perfectly well what he is saying and that the guide should ask before he assumes there’s a language barrier.
I already know it’s going to be an interesting day.
After a fitful night’s sleep, we wake up at 5:30am to eat breakfast before we meet the van from Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge at 6:15am. We drive up by the Mitad del Mundo, and our guide Cristina offers to stop at the attraction if we haven’t seen it yet. We decide instead to stop at several vistas on the way up to the cloud forest.