I’ve already written about a local hummingbird reserve a mere 45 minutes outside of Quito, Yanacocha. It’s a treasure of a place. To get there, I drive through the crowded streets of the city until they slowly turn into the narrower and tighter road circling up the mountain around the north side of Pichincha. The last five kilometers of the road is dirt and gravel with an occasional sign reminding the traveler that they are on the right path. On a clear day, I can see mountainside after mountainside of cleared farms, herds of black and white cows, and fields full of flowering lupine. Most visits, however, are cloudy, as befits the name of the habitat where so many hummingbirds thrive, the cloud forest.
My latest visit was with a friend who had only a short stop in Quito. He was on his way to the Galapagos, like most travelers from the US, and had scheduled only a couple of days in Quito. That will be another blog piece – why Americans need to take more time to explore the high Andes. There is so much here to discover.
The day he arrived, it was threatening rain, so we hiked with full gear, just in case. Always a good idea in the fast changing weather of these mountains. And though we didn’t see tons of birds, we saw enough to get a couple of truly wonderful pictures. And, for the first time, I hiked one of the lower trails, The Spectacled Bear. It’s a trail that demands close attention as it was muddy and slick in many a place, especially where the small rain-fed streams come pouring off the mountain side. We were a tad early for orchids and I only saw one small variety. But mushrooms were every where, encouraged by the recent rains.
I’m ready to return again now that it is April. I want to see the rare Black-breasted Puffleg hummingbird. Most sources agree that he begins to show himself more often starting in April with repeated sightings throughout the summer and sometimes into the early fall. And I hope to photograph more orchids in the wild. But either way, I know that when I go, I will discover something new. I have no doubt of that at all.
If you would like to see any of these photos in a larger format, just click on it!
Here is an updated map (February, 2018). The map below marks the turn off and the Yanacocha Reserve. Please view in satellite mode to see the dirt roads. Don’t worry about getting lost; the reserve is well known and has great signage to get you all the way there.
Turn-Off from the Nono-Mindo Road
- Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Nono, Pichincha, Ecuador. You will turn off well before reaching Nono.
- Direction by Public Transportation While you can take the bus to the turn off point on the main road, the hike up is considerable. We recommend hiring a local taxi or birding guide with car.
Information For Your Trip
Although this trip can be managed in a normal car, we recommend a high clearance vehicle. The last few kilometers are poorly graded and are generally in bad condition during and immediately after the rainy season. Expect lots of dust in the dry season. There is currently a small restaurant on site but please call ahead if you want to arrange for a meal. We recommend hiring a local guide with access to a car or driver.