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Ecuador (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
A friend and I are off to Ecuador for our first taste of South America in February next year. This is an independent self drive trip, flying into Quito, and doing a small bit of the east slope first and finishing off with 6/7 nights in the Mindo area.
Much of it is arranged now but struggling to find information on some things and was hoping someone could help!

Several sites/reserves seem to require prior notification to visiting, how much(if any) notification is required for these sights? For example, at least several weeks in advance or can be arranged the day before.
Mashpi Amagusa
Mashpi chocolate farm
Chontal Oilbird cave
23 de Junio
Rio silanche
Narupa (prior arrangement or can be arranged at the time at comedor susanita?)

I have read conflicting things on access to Antisana/laguna de mica. Is it free entry, no prior arrangements needed just sign on arrival? Or more complicated than that?

Yanacocha reserve, have seen stated opening times 7am - 3pm, can the trails be accessed outside of these hours? Hoping to do at least 1 dusk or dawn visit here around our night in nono.

Do long-wattled umbrellabirds and club-winged manakin display only early in the morning or at other times of the day?

Any recommended apps for calls? Would rather avoid downloading all possible calls off xeno-canto! I see there is a sunbird all birds ecuador field guide app, has anyone used this?


Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Of the sites you ask about I've been to 23 de Junio and Silanche. I hired a guide in Mindo (Julia Patino) and she called 23 de Junio the previous day. I think you would need to contact them in advance but maybe not too far ahead unless they're busy. I don't think the folks there will speak much or any English so you would need to use some Spanish. I'd recommend going first thing in the morning for the Umbrellabirds. I saw them easily then but they disappeared about half an hour or so after dawn. I had Club-winged Manakin quite nicely at Milpe mid- to late-afternoon though.

At Silanche we just drove in and birded. You need to get a permit but I just paid on leaving.

Both 23 de Junio and Silanche are just about okay to drive to with a regular car (but take care). I was told I would need a 4x4 for Yanacocha.

You should probably get the Sunbird app. It's not perfect but is useful to have and the calls are generally good on it. I would still download some more from xeno-canto, particularly for the main targets or any recent splits that might not be covered on the app.

Jim M.

Choose Civility

I have a photo of a displaying Club-winged Manakin taken at 10 AM, so it appears they don't only display at the crack of dawn.

I will also note that there is a CD of MP3 recordings of Ecuador bird songs available on the U.S. Amazon site by John V Moore: Bird Sounds of Ecuador


Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
I am not sure the SUV is truly necessary: in our visit in 2015 we had a Chevy Aveo and it took us where we needed to go including Yanacocha (no prior arrangement there, nor in Rio Silanche). On our second, recent visit to Ecuador (southern) it was nice to have a Nissan Kick (2wd but SUV shape). Regarding Yanacocha, we only visited the main area, if you want to go to the outer areas (polylepis), then you might need prearrangement. The website for Jocotoco has a contact form where you can arrange things like that, but they are not necessarily answering every day. I think the road up to the main area is open almost all the way 24/7.

We did Milpe on the way to Rio Silanche, and I think we payed our dues for both places there; we could probably have used more time in Rio Silanche but still thought the combo was worth it - we stayed at Yellow House during this time.

For this visit I got the Sunbird app and agree it is not perfect but sounds actually seems like one of the better sides of the app.



Well-known member
Many thanks Niels!

I'm not sure if we will be visiting the polylepis at Yanacocha but I may contact them anyway, cheers.

We have set aside a full day for Rio Silanche, staying in Pedro Vicente the previous evening, then that evening is our first of 2 at the yellow house.


Well-known member
When I went to Narupa back in 2014, I just walked in. I was exploring by bus at the time not really sure where I was going. I went in to Comedor Susana to ask whether there was a good place to walk in the forest nearby and followed her instructions. Was great!


Wird Batcher
I went to an Oilbird cave - not sure if the one you mention - I'll have to look it up, but I rocked up to their house & they took me to it in their 4x4. No prior notice.

René Matthys

New member
I did a 3-week solo trip in December 18 - January 19. Did the east slope by bus and west slope with a hired car (Kia Picanto).

About the sites you mention:

Mashpi Amagusa: I contacted Sergio Basantes and stayed in a very nice cabin at La Delicia. The next morning Sergio showed me around at the reserve. We found loads of good birds (Indigo Flowerpiercer, Choco Vireo,...). You can bird the surroundings on your own, but to get to the feeders (with the tanagers and hummers) you wlll have to contact Sergio upfront.

Mashpi Chocolate Farm: I contacted Alejandro Solano and stayed with his neighbours who have a brand new cabin and serve excellent food at their diner table. In the early morning I walked to the Chocolate farm where I had a tour with Alejandro. 'Shungito' was very obliging, good other stuff too (Orange-fronted Barbet, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Purple-chested Hummingbird). You need to contact Alejandro to arrange the tour. Don't forget to taste the chocolate afterwards!

Chontal Oilbird Cave: I drove there after my visit to Angel Paz. It is a long drive on some of the worst roads I encountered but the Kia Picanto made it without problems. I just popped up at the farm mentioned in the birdsinecuador website. The lady went to get the key and we drove with my car to the Oilbird cave. Stunning views but lots of hours of driving put in for the Oilbirds.

23 de Junio: I stayed at the village itself at the 'Umbrellabird lodge' (a very basic room with lots of bugs). I went early morning with Luis Frejilla junior up the mountain and watched a male Umbrellabird for over half an hour. It started raining heavily so had a slippery early retreat.

I didn't visit Narupa nor Rio Silanche. If you want email-adresses for the above mentioned places please PM me. Most of the communication was in Spanish, apart from Alejandro Solano of course. I suppose it is easy to arrange all these visits (with a guide) from Mindo, but I preferred to stay close to the reserves so didn't have to drive too much in the early mornings. Arranging your own stuff and staying with the people involved gave a much more personal contact than just doing the hit and run with a Mindo based guide.

René Matthys

New member
You don't need a permit to visit Antisana/Laguna de Mica, just registrate at the checkpoints.

I used the sunbird app a lot, though only for the calls. A very interesting feature is the loop/repeat function, which allows you to tape in a bird 'hands free'.


Well-known member
Thank you Rene, that is most helpful! It sounds like the oilbird is a lot of driving for one bird. Although all options for the Mindo area are still open, as all we have arranged so far for there is accommodation, this may be one site that unfortunately could be cut for this trip.

I have not seen the birdsinecuador website before, as the where to find chapters seem to be no longer online, but thankfully stumbled upon another birdforum post about this site and was able to access it via the wayback machine. An excellent resource!

Also thank you to Halftwo for your reply too!


Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor


Well-known member
Loving that Sibley post on playback. Very very good, has it been shared more widely?

I’m not claiming to be blameless but I am always trying to improve and impact the birds less and less. Lots of what is recommended in the post reflects exactly my current approach.
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