Reading time: 7 mins

Getting there 

Jorge our guide who drove us up to the mouth of the volcano outside Otavalo gave us some advice on stops in Ecuador. We had Mindo in our list of places but our intended next stop at the time was the city of Quito – largely due to geography reasons and it being the next in line. Jorge advised us otherwise. He didn’t like Quito and we didn’t like the idea of another large city. We opted instead to head straight for Mindo from Otavalo. This still involved going through Quito, but a quick enough 2 hour bus from Otavalo to Quito (again boarded at a moving start) and then an hour and 45 to Mindo and we were in the sunnier than expected cloud forest by lunch time.

Bicok Ecolodge

After some deliberation, we decided to push out the budget and stay in the Bicok Ecolodge. It ticked all the boxes for what we wanted in our next stop. Mostly the ability to sit and read in comfort. 

The Bicok Ecolodge has a pool, an indoor fire, beautiful rooms and an onsite chef by request. All in a beautiful setting with views of the surrounding mountains and dozens of birds visiting the colourful gardens.

We ventured out for dinner to see the sleepy town of Mindo on our first evening after an afternoon lying by the pool. We returned to a lighting fire, a bottle of Chilean Malbec, and what appeared to be a local meeting about a development project in the area. Around 12 people from the area, the owners of the Bicok lodge included, were gathered by the fire with glasses of red wine and passionately sharing their thoughts on the development. From what little Spanish we have, we managed to decipher that most wanted to preserve the town from any large influx of cars as a result of any developments. Mindo is a Botanical garden repeated one member of the group. One sole member of the group seemed to be defending the other side of the story and pushing for whatever it was this project was. 

A bird/nature lovers paradise

It’s hard not to wish things stay the same around here nor to see why many of the locals were passionate about preserving it. The Bicok Ecolodge does indeed feel like it’s in a Botanical Garden. I couldn’t count the amount of flowers I could see from just by the poolside alone. Behind me pineapples and bananas grow. Hummingbirds are feeding on the other side of the pool and birds too quick to make out their species constantly dip in and out of the pool for a drink.


We set our alarm for 5.30am to go on our first bird watching tour. Half asleep and questioning our decision to do the tour, we were picked up by our driver, nicknamed La Tortuga, in a 4×4, and our birding guide Sandra. 

Binoculars were dropped into our laps and later to much relief, coffee was placed into our hands. I’m not sure whether it was the coffee or the practice but we were soon spotting plenty of birds. We skirted around the mountain with our guide acutely following the songs of each bird. She was able to spot and call birds from hundreds of metres away.

Every so often we jumped back in the 4×4 and drove further up the mountain in search of the elusive toucan. We saw 3 different types of toucan in total though few stayed around for us to see them for more than a few seconds.

Our tour finished with a sighting of a sleeping owl and her very much awake baby chick, perched atop a tree trunk in the outskirts of the town.

Mindo–Vía a las cascadas (Waterfall trail)

The full bird list

Depature: 6:20 a.m.
Distance covered: 14.03 km
Duration: 295 minutos

  • 3 Crested Guan 
  • 1 Squirrel Cuckoo 
  • 2 Common Potoo 
  • 1 Brown Violetear 
  • 2 Sparkling Violetear 
  • 1 Booted Racket-tail 
  • 7 Cattle Egret 
  • 2 Black Vulture 
  • 3 Turkey Vulture 
  • 2 Rufous Motmot 
  • 2 Toucan Barbet 
  • 2 Crimson-rumped Toucanet 
  • 1 Choco Toucan 
  • 1 Smoky-brown Woodpecker 
  • 1 Golden-olive Woodpecker 
  • 4 Red-billed Parrot 
  • 2 Spotted Woodcreeper (Berlepsch’s) 
  • 1 Cinnamon Becard 
  • 2 Slaty-capped Flycatcher 
  • 2 Ornate Flycatcher 
  • 2 Dusky-capped Flycatcher 
  • 2 Golden-crowned Flycatcher 
  • 3 Tropical Kingbird 
  • 3 Blue-and-white Swallow 
  • 2 Blue-and-white Swallow (cyanoleuca) 
  • 1 Orange-bellied Euphonia 
  • 1 Shiny Cowbird 
  • 2 Slate-throated Redstart 
  • 2 Flame-rumped Tanager 
  • 2 Blue-gray Tanager 
  • 2 Palm Tanager 
  • 2 Golden-naped Tanager 
  • 2 Blue-necked Tanager 
  • 2 Metallic-green Tanager 
  • 2 Flame-faced Tanager 
  • 3 Golden Tanager 
  • 1 Silver-throated Tanager 
  • 3 Swallow Tanager 
  • 1 Variable Seedeater 

Número de taxas: 39