Cloud Forest Discovery Tours

Explore and experience the mystical cloud forests of the pristine and unique Maquipucuna reserve, at your own pace, focus on your interests, accompanied by one of our passionate and knowledgeable local bilingual guides. Maquipucuna’s all-inclusive programs offer, at no additional cost, Andean Spectacled Bear watching during bear season, early morning bird watching, two daily guided hikes through our extensive trail system, dipping in natural pools and waterfalls, and guided night hikes.

These sample itineraries will give you ideas to customize your trip using our exclusive online booking system, which is very easy to use. It will walk you through the reservation process where you will be able to choose the number of nights you visit Maquipucuna, transportation options, food preferences, and add-on tours. If you have more than 2 nights to visit, you could consider booking add-on tours to our community projects in Yunguilla or Santa Lucía or natural attractions in the Mindo area. If you feel that our programs don't have what you need, please check with us to tailor-make your itinerary for unique life experiences.

Daily activities are subject to change due to weather conditions, safety, particular interests of guests or to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities. Because we are aware that you may have particular interests and fitness levels, during the welcome talk and at the end of each day, your guide will plan with you your activities for the next day.

 
Birding tours

Maquipucuna is the true birder’s paradise in Ecuador. It's home to more than 400 Chocó and Andean bird species and holder of a Cornell's annual Global Bird Day record number of 157 species recorded at walking distance from the lodge. The Maquipucuna lodge lies at the ecotone of lowland and highland forests and enjoys the perfect combination of open areas, viewing spots, as well as 30+ km of manicured trails within the forest. 

Maquipucuna is undoubtedly the best birding spot in the Mindo region although Maquipucuna Reserve was declared an IBA (Important Bird Area) in its own right. Some of Maquipucuna’s specialties include Rufous motmot, Torrent duck, Choco toucan, Guayaquil woodpecker, Cock-of-the-rock, Golden headed quetzal, Lanceolated monklet, Esmeraldas antbird, Giant antpitta, Rufous throated tanager, Cloud forest pygmy owl, Barred puffbird, White-faced nunbird, Pale-mandibled araçari, Club-winged manakin among many others as well as dozens of hummingbirds. Our local knowledgeable and skilled bilingual bird guides have an intimate knowledge of the forest and passion to show its birds to our visitors. We recommend at least 3 days exploring Maquipucuna’s birds, and an additional night to visit Santa Lucia Cloud forest lodge located at 1900 meters (6250 feet). While we build access to our Cock-of-the-rock lek, we organize visits to Angel Paz refuge, where you can have a close look at Moustached antpitta, Giant antpitta and Yellow-breasted antpitta.

The links will take you to sample itineraries. However, our exclusive online booking system will walk you through the reservation process and you will be able to choose the number of nights you visit Maquipucuna, transportation options, your private birding guide, and food preferences. If you have more than 2 nights to visit, you could consider booking add-on tours to Santa Lucía or Angel Paz. If you feel that our programs don't have what you need, please check with us to tailor-make your itinerary for a unique life experience.

Daily activities are subject to change due to weather conditions, safety, particular interests of guests or to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities. Because we are aware that you may have particular interests and fitness levels, during the welcome talk and at the end of each day, your guide will plan with you your activities for the next day.

 
Adventure & Community Tours

Maquipucuna's award-winning ecotourism program is unique in that in parallel with the development of the Maquipucuna lodge, it involved the communities of Yunguilla and Santa Lucía to create their own world-class ecotourism operations. If you want to experience farm and community life in the Ecuadorian cloud forest in a safe, fun and educational way and in great comfort, you should choose these add-on tours. The Yunguilla-Maquipucuna option includes a visit to community projects, homestay with a family in Yunguilla and a guided trek through a pre-Inca Yumbo trail that starts at 2800 meters and terminates at Maquipucuna at 1280 meters. This strenuous hike lasts approximately 6 - 8 hours.  You only hike with a day pack and your luggage is transported by car to Maquipucuna. Another option is to visit Yunguilla to do the same activities as the first option and the next day you hike for about 5 hrs down to Sta Lucía lodge at 1900 meters. The Santa Lucia lodge specializes in birding and research. Spend a day exploring Santa Lucía and the next day hike down to Maquipucuna. If you are short in time, it is possible to start with one night at Maquipucuna, then hike for two hours to spend the night at Santa Lucia and end with a night at Maquipucuna. You must plan to spend at least one night at each of these locations if you add on any of these community oriented tours.

 
 

2 Days / 1 Night Cloud Forest Discovery Tours

Day 1: Our shuttle will pick you up from main hotels in Quito between 7 and 7:30 am (definite time will be confirmed to you a few days before your trip).  We take the highway north of Quito, passing the Equator Monument and Latitude 0, and then we climb over the pass and from here on, it's downhill. Enjoy the changing views from dry landscapes to the stunning virgin lush cloud forests of Maquipucuna. About an hour after you leave your hotel, the first real forests that you encounter will be the protected highlands of the Maquipucuna Reserve. You will witness the classic example of a "rain shadow"effect created by the Andes on the moist air masses coming from the Pacific - dessert on the east slope of the mountains and lush wet forests on the pacific slopes. The drive lasts about 2 hours from Quito. Check-in to Maquipucuna Lodge, receive the welcome talk and get fitted with rubber boots and prepare yourself for an introduction trek on one of our various trails.

Before lunch:  We will take a guided short walk to learn about some of Maquipucuna's medicinal and useful plants. Do you have a cut on your finger? There is a natural Neosporin-like plant for that. Interested in a natural bug repellent? Or, in preventing baldness? It’s all here. Also, find out where novel plants, such as the lengua de la suegra (tongue of mother-in-law), get their names. The medicinal properties of Maquipucuna plants are endlessly fascinating. You will run out of time before you run out of plants, and those are only some of the ones we are already aware of.

After lunch: We will walk through the Bear trail and part of the Palmito or River trails in search of Spectacled bears or their traces. This is a moderate hike through Secondary and some Primary Forest. The most incredible birding and wildlife can be expected along this hike as Emblematic birds such as the Lanceolated Monklet, the Choco Toucan, the Esmeraldas Antbird, the Guayaquil Woodpecker, various species of raptors, and the occasional Cock-of-the-rock are possible to see along this trail. This trail can be thought of as a journey through the progression of forest regeneration from secondary forest to primary forest. One of the tree species typical of a regeneration forest is a Lauraceae tree, known locally as Pacche. When in season, these trees carry in abundance mini avocado fruits. This is the fruit responsible for attracting unusually high numbers of bears yearly. One can see several individuals feeding on the top of the Pacche trees as close as 15 minutes away from the lodge. A local guide is mandatory during Spectacled Bear season.

6:00 pm Bar opens officially; however, if you desire a drink before then, please let our staff know and they will be happy to serve you.

Optional guided night hike.

Day 2: Wake up to the calls of a concert of birds and get ready for an early start. After enjoying a cup of our own freshly brewed coffee,  we have the first birding hike from 6:30 - 8:30 am to enjoy the sounds and sights of dawn in the forest – which is when most birds are active and calling. 

Take a short break by the waterfall for a refreshing dip and check check out before taking lunch at the Lodge.

Leave for Quito after lunch.

Optional suitable add-on activities and supplements (if you opt for any of these, they must be booked and paid at the time of making the reservation):

  • Private transfer (Mitad del Mundo and Intiñan Museum). Whether doing this tour when going in or out from Maquipucuna, please allow 2 hrs for this activity and consider that Intiñan closes at 5 pm.

  • Chocolate massage in the afternoon.

Notes:
 * Add-on tours and unscheduled transfers are subject to additional charges. If you need transportation from places or at times different from our shuttle's, please add the respective transportation supplement.

 * There is no additional cost for bear watching tours

 * Your guide will do his best to plan your hiking schedule according to your interests and fitness level. 

3 Days / 2 Nights Cloud Forest Discovery Tours

Day 1: Same as 2 Day / 1 Night

Day 2: Wake up to the calls of a concert of birds and get ready for an early start. After enjoying a cup of our own freshly brewed coffee,  we have the first birding hike from 6:30 - 8:30 am to enjoy the sounds and sights of dawn in the forest – which is when most birds are active and calling. 

Before lunch: We will take the Humedal trail learning further about plants and watching birds as we progress into the the pre-Inca trail used by the Yumbos.  As a reward, we will reach the Yumbo waterfall or swimmming hole where you will have the opportunity to take a swim.

After lunch: Visit the coffee orchard, the orchid garden and the organic garden.  Then, at the coffee house learn what it takes to process great coffee.

Alternatively: After breakfast, you could take a half day or full day tour to the ziplines, Tulipe archeological site or Mindo butterfly garden. 

6:00 pm Bar opens officially; however, if you desire a drink before then, please let our staff know and they will be happy to serve you.

Optional guided night hike.

 

Day 3: Birding between 6:30 and 8:30 before breakfast or sleeping in.

Before lunch: you may chose to explore additional more demanding trails, an expedition to the Cloud forest with a packed lunch, a break by the waterfall for a refreshing dip and check out before taking lunch at the Lodge, or alternatively you can book to partake in activities outside Maquipucuna such as zipline, Tulipe, Mindo, Middle of the World.

 Leave for Quito after lunch.

Optional suitable add-on activities and supplements (if you opt for any of these, they must be booked and paid at the time of making the reservation):

  • Private transfer (Mitad del Mundo and Intiñan Museum). Whether doing this tour when going in or out from Maquipucuna, please allow minimum 2 hrs for this activity and consider that Intiñan closes at 5 pm.

  • Half day or full day tours to Zipline, Tulipe and or Mindo Butterfly garden on the second day.

  • Chocolate Massage in the afternoon

  • Private transfer from or to Otavalo or Haciendas. Keep in mind that travel time to or from Maquipucuna from Otavalo or Haciendas near Cotopaxi will be around 4 hours.

Notes:
 * Add-on activities are subject to additional charges. If you need transportation chose between our shuttles or the other options.

 * There is no additional cost for bear watching tours.
 * Your guide will do his best to plan your hiking schedule according to your interests and fitness level.

 

3 Days / 2 NIGHTS BIRDING TOUR

Day 1: 

Our shuttle will pick you up from main hotels in Quito between 7 and 7:30 am (definite time will be confirmed to you a few days before your trip).  We take the highway north of Quito, passing the Equator Monument and Latitude 0, and then we climb over the pass and from here on, it's downhill. Enjoy the changing views from dry landscapes to the stunning virgin lush cloud forests of Maquipucuna. About an hour after you leave your hotel, the first real forests that you encounter will be the protected highlands of the Maquipucuna Reserve. You will witness the classic example of a "rain shadow"effect created by the Andes on the moist air masses coming from the Pacific - dessert on the east slope of the mountains and lush wet forests on the pacific slopes. The drive lasts about 2 hours from Quito. Check-in to Maquipucuna Lodge, receive the welcome talk and get fitted with rubber boots and prepare yourself for an introduction trek on one of our various trails.

Before lunch: Depending on the time of the year, this could be the opportunity to spot Torrent ducks right below the Umachaca River bridge, across the lodge and to watch up to 8 species of hummingbirds that flock around the dining room. 

After lunch: We could walk through the Bear trail and part of the Palmito or River trails in search of Spectacled bears or their traces. This is a moderate hike through Secondary and some Primary Forest. The most incredible birding and wildlife can be expected along this hike as emblematic birds such as the Lanceolated Monklet, the Choco Toucan, the Esmeraldas Antbird, the Guayaquil Woodpecker, various species of raptors, and the occasional Cock-of-the-rock are possible to see along this trail. This trail can be thought of as a journey through the progression of forest regeneration from secondary forest to primary forest. One of the tree species that characterize the regeneration is a Lauraceae tree, known locally as Pacche. When in season, these trees carry an abundance of mini avocado fruits. This is the fruit responsible for attracting unusually high numbers of bears yearly as well as parrots, toucans, and recently the Long-wattled umbrella bird and Oilbirds.

6:00 pm Bar opens officially; however, if you desire a drink before then, please let our staff know and they will be happy to serve you.

Optional guided night hike.

Day 2 or more: The second day can start either with an early rise to watch the Cock-of-the-rock lek or alternatively birding from 6:30 am at the Reserve. The Cock-of-the-rock tour* starts at 4:45 am, when coffee and a cake will be served. 

Alternatively, you may want to start birding at 6:30 am.

Before lunch: You may want to rest or take on more birding after breakfast.

After lunch: Your guide will be available until 6 pm, and how much birding you do will only depend on you.

* Cock-of-the-rock tours are only available for children older than 11 years old and always accompanied by an adult. Currently, we are still taking our guests to Angel Paz, so a visit to the Cock-of-the-Rock has an extra cost.

Leave for Quito after lunch of the last day of the tour.

 

Mandatory supplements for this itinerary:

  • Private local bilingual bird guide supplement.

Optional suitable add-on activities or supplements (if you opt for any of these, they must be booked and paid at the time of making the reservation):

  • Private transfer (Mitad del Mundo and Intiñan Museum). Whether doing this tour when going in or out from Maquipucuna, please allow minimum 2 hrs for this activity and consider that Intiñan closes at 5 pm.

  • Chocolate Massage in the afternoons.
  • Private transfer from or to Otavalo, Haciendas, San Isidro or other birding lodges. 
  • Angel Paz de las Aves - add - on.

Notes:
 * Add-on activities and unscheduled transfers are subject to additional charges. If you need transportation from places or at times different from our shuttle's, please add the respective transportation supplement.

 * There is no additional cost for bear watching tours.

 
Adventure & Community Tours

5 Days / 4 Nights Adventure and Community Tours

 

Day 1: Our van will pick you up at 7:30 am.  We take the highway north of Quito, passing the Equator Monument and Latitude 0, and then we climb over the pass and from here on, it's downhill. Enjoy the changing views from dry landscapes to the stunning lush cloud forests. About an hour after you leave your hotel, you will arrive at the Yunguilla.

Before lunch: Arrival and welcome at Tahuallullo house, introductory talk about community processes and the organization, visit the community shop and introduction to your host family and accommodation in their home and explanation of the day's activities.

After lunch: Visit the community small holding and the small businesses​.

Dinner: with your host family.

 

Day 2: After breakfast, you will depart with your Yunguilla guide in a pick- up truck to the area Chichipunta, will stop by the viewing point El Chochal and hike the trail once used for the exchange of goods between indigenous people of the coast and the highlands. Time for your box lunch and observation of different species of flora and fauna. After a 5 hour hike you will arrive at the Santa Lucía community lodge. We will arrange for a truck to deliver your luggage to Maquipucuna; therefore you should only take a day pack with your essentials for the hike and the night that you will spend at Santa Lucía.

Welcome and dinner at Santa Lucía.

Day 3: After breakfast, you can go birding and explore Santa Lucía's trails or just rest enjoying the breathtaking views from the lodge.

After lunch: Hike down for about 1.5 hours to Maquipucuna, where you can enjoy a dip in the cyrstalline Umachaca river.

Day 4: Wake up to the calls of a concert of birds and get ready for an early start. After enjoying a cup of our own freshly brewed coffee,  we have the first birding hike from 6:30 - 8:30 am to enjoy the sounds and sights of dawn in the forest – which is when most birds are active and calling. 

Before lunch: We will take the Humedal trail learning further about plants and watching birds as we progress into the the pre-Inca trail used by the Yumbos.  As a reward, we will reach the Yumbo waterfall or swimmming hole where you will have the opportunity to take a swim.

After lunch: Visit the coffee orchard, the orchid garden and the organic garden.  Then, at the coffee house learn what it takes to process great coffee.

Alternatively: After breakfast, you could take a half day or full day tour to the ziplines, Tulipe archeological site or Mindo butterfly garden. 

6:00 pm Bar opens officially; however, if you desire a drink before then, please let our staff know and they will be happy to serve you.

Optional guided night hike.

 

Day 5: Birding between 6:30 and 8:30 before breakfast or sleeping in.

Before lunch: you may chose to explore additional more demanding trails, an expedition to the Cloud forest with a packed lunch, a break by the waterfall for a refreshing dip and check out before taking lunch at the Lodge, or alternatively you can book to partake in activities outside Maquipucuna such as zipline, Tulipe, Mindo, Middle of the World.

 Leave for Quito after lunch.

 

Mandatory supplements for this itinerary:

  • Private transport from Quito

  • Homestay at the Yunguilla community

  • Tour to the Clouds - Overnight at Santa Lucía

​Suitable add-on activities and supplements (if you opt for any of these, they must be booked and paid at the time of making the reservation):

  • Private transfer (Mitad del Mundo and Intiñan Museum). Whether doing this tour when going in or out from Maquipucuna, please allow minimum 2 hrs for this activity and consider that Intiñan closes at 5 pm.

  • Half day or full day tours to Zipline, Tulipe and or Mindo Butterfly garden on the second day.

  • Chocolate Massage in the afternoon

  • Private transfer from or to Otavalo or Haciendas. Keep in mind that travel time to or from Maquipucuna from Otavalo or Haciendas near Cotopaxi will be around 4 hours.

Notes:
 * Add-on activities and unscheduled transfers are subject to additional charges. If you need transportation from places or at times different from our shuttle's, please add the respective transportation supplement.

 * There is no additional cost for bear watching tours 

 

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CONTACT US

Office - Quito: +5932- 2507200 / 2507201

24 hrs Tel/Whatstapp +5939 – 94218033

Lodge Tel  +5939 – 94218033

info@maquipucuna.org

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