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National Parks

Charlotte, North...
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1,930 posts
48 reviews
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National Parks

Which national parks can most easily be visited independently with a rental car. We are willing to hike some, but will not do any overnight hikes. I also do not want to get in to long heights at high elevations that will be very strenuous for us. A few kilometers we can manage, but not 15 km. I am most interested in the mountains and coastal areas. I would consider visiting the Amazon, but have not found much information on costs. This will be a family trip, so I will be paying for 3 of us.

I have found several tourism websites that list the parks, but I have not been able to find much detail beyond maybe 3 very broad paragraphs. I would appreciate any help on websites that will provide some more details such as road access, easy to moderately strenuous hikes, and possible accomadations in or near some of the parks.

My son is interested in parks that will give him the best chance to spot mammals and birds.

Thanks for any tips.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
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1. Re: National Parks

There is good birding to be had anywhere in Ecuador, not just in the national parks.

The only NP that I know of that requires a guide is Cotopaxi. A couple of people have mentioned going to the gate, paying a guide already there to go in with him, then going off on their own. There's a lodge inside the park. There is some good birding along Limpiopungo lake and in the páramo around it.

Yanacocha preserve, just an hour from Quito, is on the flanks of Pichincha volcano. There is a small hostal near the entrance but you can also make it a day trip. Yanacocha is very easy walking on well-groomed trails dotted with hummingbird feeders. Besides the very rare Black-breasted Puffleg (which only lives in that area) there are many other exciting species.

Mindo, of course, is the most famous of the birding hotspots and is a two-hour drive from Quito. There are plenty of lodges to choose from. I highly recommend hiring a good guide which will increase your life list by 500%.

Along the coast, Machalilla N.P. is wide open and includes Isla de la Plata, where you can pick up sightings of boobies among other species, including the spectacular Waved Albatross at certain times of year. You don't say when your trip is, but humpback whales are in residence off Puerto López between June-Sept. There is good birding in nearby Ayampe and along that area.

This is obviously a starter list of places. I suggest you look up posts by TA member Mfuwe, who made a dedicated birding trip to Ecuador several years ago.

Charlotte, North...
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1,930 posts
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2. Re: National Parks

Thanks for your help.

Ghent, Belgium
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3. Re: National Parks

Hello,

check out www.cloudbirders.com for bird trip reports. When searching trip reports you can check 'more filters' and there chose for independent trips to get an idea about what is easily self organized. Also check a forum thread for Amazon prices on birdforum: www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=280694 Off course these very good birding lodges might be somewhat overkill if you are not a keen birder, and cheaper options are probably more suited. I'm also doing some research on Amazon places for birding an mammals and Shiripuno lodge is until now our favorite (still searching for other lodges) with affordable prices. As I have not jet visited Ecuador, I have no experience with one of these lodges myself!

4. Re: National Parks

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