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visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

Ontario, Canada
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visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

We have 21/2 free days in Quito for day trips. I would gladly get some advice from TA readers on the following:

Since we will be visiting Fernandina and Isabella Islands for almost 4 days, should we visit Cotopaxi or the Bellavista cloud forest for a whole day tour?

Can we see a lot of the area around Otavalo market and visit it for only 6 hours on Saturday? Our plane leaves for Canada at 6:45 p.m. and I presume we have to be at the airport 3 hours before hand.

Are there any other places that we can visit for the whole day? We are planning to visit places of interest in Quito on the first day of our stay.

Thank you.

May43

Bristol, United...
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1. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

For Bellavista if you want to see birds then you are better off staying the night so you can go on the early morning walk. Even then, you will likely see very few on one morning.

The day tour is likely to get you a walk to the waterfall which is steep in places needing you to take bamboo poles for support. The guided tour is worth doing especialy if you haven't had a rainforest tour before since the guide points out things you would just walk past on your own.

There are some humingbird feeders near the reception area but for some reason they do not allow flash photography. If you ask, you can usually get permission as long as you don't get too close. They don't seem to make any attempt to attract in other birds with food.

It is a rainforest so it could rain so take waterproofs on the walk.

The equator monument is worth doing as a half day.

Dave Peters

DP Software

Ottawa, Canada
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for Galapagos Islands
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2. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

Dear May - I'm sure you'll have no difficulties finding something fascinating to do. I would also recommend you consult the Quito forum for more advice.

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

cheshire
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3. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

I would concur with the previous poster - we did the Bellavista day trip and indeed did not see many birds during the hike (a mountain billed toucan? And another bird I never got the name of). Nevertheless the day tip was one of the highlights of our trip - the whole countryside is stunning and the guide was excellent, pointing out lots of different plants (she got us to try some Inka's earrings - quite tasty!). The food was great when we were there and the view from the dome stunning. Don't worry about bringing waterproofs, we completely forgot ours and were given some by the guide. The same goes for welly boots of which they have a great selection to borrow from. The only thing I really missed was a good pair of binoculars.

We wouldn't have felt comfortable staying over since we were with kids and

are not serious birders (most of the guests when we were there were indeed very serious!) but for a day trip it was great.

Oceanside...
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4. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

Cotopaxi and Bellavista are 2 very different experiences. So your choice depends on what you're interested in. I haven't been to Cotopaxi, so I can't comment on that. But we did the day tour to Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve and had a marvelous day. I agree with Dave that being there for the early morning liveliness would be ideal (which you can't do on a day tour), but we saw and heard a wide variety of species on our morning guided hike.

Our hike didn't go to the waterfall. Instead, we spent a considerable amount of time birding the Nono-Mindo Road. That may sound uninteresting, but it's really a great area to see birds--especially in heavily foliaged habitats. Lots of birds come to the edge of the road and you have a better chance to see them. It is still a challenging habitat for birding--and REALLY difficult for photography!--especially if your birding skills are a bit rusty. But for me, the many sounds of the birds was fascinating as well. This hike wasn't strenuous, although it had a couple of moderately steep sections.

We lazed away the afternoon staring transfixed at the continuous and lively activity at the hummingbird feeders at the lodge. The day was cloudy, in keeping with the area's name, and the light was a bit dull. But we were able to get photos without a flash--not portrait quality, but satisfactory for identification and memory evocation.

Not only is rain/mist possible at any time, it is also going to be cooler than you would expect if it were a tropical rain forest (which it isn't). So take both rain gear and a warmer layer, just in case. If you go, I highly recommend buying the small pamphlet ($8 US in 2009) that they sell in the office. It's a great help to have a smaller group of birds to choose from when trying to figure out who is who--especially back at home, looking at the photos.

You can read a write-up, some photos, and some maps of the area and the trails in our trip report. The link to the Bellavista portion is under the header photo of the Giant Tortoise.

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Edited: 14 May 2011, 16:47
Quito, Ecuador
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5. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

May:

Quito is a must.

Our city is the first Unesco site on Earth (1978).

Cotopaxi volcano is an stratovolcano which belongs to our geological age (cuaternary period).

The current Cotopaxi is the result of the last eruption of the first Grand Cotopaxi which ocurr 3.5 millions ago, at That time the volcano was 40% higher (26000 ft.)

Some of The flora and fauna that you can observe there, are:

Red buzzard eagles

Andean condors

American kestrels

Andean foxes

Andean gulls

Andean coots

Andean lapwing

Solitary sandpipers

The hike to the refuge is quit a nice challenge that deserves to be acomplished. The moon landscapes plus the views of the lavic ravines along the hike are something that will really overwhelm you.

Cotopaxi still active and is under white alert since 2001 when we experienced some small activity. Its last eruption happened on 1904, at that time the hospital in Latacunga got buried 2 stories into ground.

Bellavista is another experience which shows the north west slopes of the Andes, here as the previous posters mention you basically se tons of hummingbird species plus a few other birds. Hiking there is nice but nothing compared as hiking Cotopaxi at 15000 ft.

When booking this trips please do some research on this forums and try to book directly with Ecuadorian based travel companies in order to support the local economy. Also make sure the company you hire has inssurance for the vehicles plus passengers as well as licensed guides.

Enjoy Cotopaxi National Park.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yepez

Quito, Ecuador
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6. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

May,

you can perfectly visit Otavalo for 6 hours on a Saturday or any day. It is better to go anyway on a regular day to see less tourists and buy a bit cheaper.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yepez

Quito, Ecuador
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1,483 posts
141 reviews
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7. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

May,

you can perfectly visit Otavalo for 6 hours on a Saturday or any day. It is better to go anyway on a regular day to see less tourists and buy a bit cheaper.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yepez

Ontario, Canada
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42 posts
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8. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

Thank you very much for all the comments and advice for the three places that I am interested in visiting.

Is the hike to the Cotopaxi very strenuous? Denis mentioned it is quite a challenge. We are very fit young seniors but would really have to be aware of the conditions of the area. How long will it take to hike up the volcano? We have hiking poles with us. How cold does it get on June 16-18 for such a hike?

Thank you for all the information regarding birds along Cotopaxi and the advice for a reliable tour company based in Quito. I will look up TA to find out about local Tour operators whom I will definitely use. Have any of you heard or experienced using a tour with the group that advertises that they use ocal citizens as guides from the places that they come from? I am not clear about this as to whether they are reliable and honest.

I am glad to read that we can visit the market on other days because that it will be less stress bargaining!!! can I get any ecuadorian shawls and sweater any where else besides the market? at a good price?

Thanks for the information on The Belavista Cloud Forest . This will certainly be another place of interest that I would like to visit if time permits

May 43.

Quito, Ecuador
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1,483 posts
141 reviews
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9. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

The hike to the Refuge takes 45 min. roughly. In Jun-July it gets a bit chilly up there becuase the wind tends to be really strong,

Take ski gloves and polar fliece caps as well as waterproof jackets and hiking waterproof shoes.

I am pretty sure you can get up to the Refuge with no problems. I had take seniors up to 75 years old with no hazle.

Saludos cordiales,

Dennis Yepez

10. Re: visit to Cotopaxi or Bellavista Rain forest?

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