I have a love affair with the Tandayapa Valley. It was the first place we visited after moving to Quito, Ecuador. It was a magical experience, leaving the big city, driving through the dry and dusty valley of Mitad del Mundo, and then winding through mountains thickly covered with cloud forest. The high mountain slopes are a stunning dark green with an occasional bright spot of purple flowers growing on a vine or the flashing silver of the leaves on a cecropia tree.

We have stayed in two locations in the Tandayapa Valley and both have their benefits. The Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge is high up on the slopes and has a series of trails that explore the different terrain on their reserve. A stay at their lodge includes morning and afternoon hikes with a naturalist guide and tasty meals in their restaurant. They have private rooms, a dormitory style loft, and a research station.

The San Jorge Ecolodge of Tandayapa lies lower on the mountain slope. It means they receive a different variety of birds. One of the joys of birding in the Andes is that a change of only a few hundred feet in altitude can mean spotting very different species. The San Jorge Lodge has an outdoor dining room that makes it easy to enjoy the birds, even while eating breakfast, and to spot an olinguito coming to sneak plantains from the bird feeders while you are eating your dinner.

A big plus at both lodges is that they have viewing areas that are protected from the rainy afternoons, which are more common than not in the cloud forest. And the birds, especially the hummingbirds, flock to the feeders even during heavy downpours. And every once in a while, a bird might join you under the protected roof to escape the rain.

The third must visit location is a small home that lies along the river near the small town of Nanegalito. It is called Alambi. For a $5 entrance fee, you can walk their trails and enjoy their hummingbird garden. The garden alone is worth the entrance fee as they have many species of birds that visit the feeders.

I hope these photos will encourage you to explore the Tandayapa Province, especially around Tandayapa Valley. These photos barely scratch the surface.

Click on any photo to open a slideshow with further descriptions of each photo.

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Ecuador Por Mis Ojos

Recently, the Instituto Geografico Militar of Ecuador and I released a book of photography, Ecuador Por Mis Ojos. This post shares photos from that book.

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