Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve


After lunch, we had until 3 p.m to ourselves, either to walk other paths or just sit on the benches outside the lodge and watch the hummingbirds at the many feeders that Bellavista maintains.  We opted for the lazy route, in part because it began to rain.  (Aha—now this is a cloud forest.)  But since the benches were covered, the rain was gentle, and the hummers didn’t seem to care about the rain, we had a great time and got a number of decent hummer photos. Andrea even sat down with us and helped with the identification of the various species.  (I hope I’ve translated that teaching into correct IDs here.)

Below are 2 photos of a Collared Inca.  The one in the photo on the right is probably a male, since a female has a lighter or white throat.

Here is an Andean Emerald (on the left).  Note the bi-colored bill. (Click on the photo to see a larger version; use your browser’s “back” button to return to this page.)

I think the most interesting species was the Booted Racket-tail.  (Some books refer to this species as a Racket-tailed Puffleg.  However, it’s a different genus than the rest of the Pufflegs—and Andrea called it a Booted Racket-tail.  So I’m sticking with that name.)  In these 2 photos you get a close-up of the body and you can see the eponymous feathery white “boots.”  These are males; a female would have a lighter chest.

But the boots are only part of the story.  This bird also has 2 very long tail feathers, which end in large rounded “rackets.”  You can see that tail in the photo below.

Below are 2 photos of a female Purple-throated Woodstar (on the left in the first photo and in the middle in the second photo) and a male Booted Racket-tail (on the right in the first photo and at the top in the second).

And finally, a photo of a Sparkling Violetear (sparkling there on the left) and a Buff-tailed Coronet (on the right).  To really appreciate the beauty of the Violetear, you should click on the photo to see the larger version.

Continued on p. 5; click below.

5 Responses to Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve

  1. shamda says:

    I was in Bellavista late in April. It is truly wonderful. I am not particularly a bird person and went for an overnight and was very happy to have gone. Given what you write, I suspect Mindo might be better if you’re going for a couple of nights because there is more to do. Not that I couldn’t have done another night at Bellavista! It is one of the most relaxing places I have ever been. Very beautiful. I didn’t think I would get mesmerized by hundreds of hummingbirds but I did! The more I watched them the more fascinated I got. The rest of the birding wasn’t spectacular when I was there but the trails are magnificent and the staff is extremely accomodating to all levels of physical rediness. I was tempted to go zip lining but after falling off the trail and being saved by the vines I rolled into, I decided to forgo it for this particular trip.
    You’ll be happy with either I suspect. Ecuador is a beautiful country!


  2. John & Jan Belz says:

    My wife & I are doing the same Road Scholar trip this coming March. Like you, we plan to arrive in Quito a couple of days (actually 3 nights) ahead of the program. We too are birders. We’re thinking of two nights in the Andes/cloud forests. Do you wish you had had more time to spend at the Bellavista lodge? Would two nights there be overkill? Any other birding recommendations outside of Quito?

    Your blog is excellent. We have shared it with several other couples we know that will join us on the Tip Top III. You’ve done us all a real service. Thank you.

    Tina writes:

    Excellent decision to arrive in Quito a bit early. There’s so much to do in the city and in day trips out and about. I could easily have spent 2 full days (rather than our 1 half-day) at Bellavista. (My husband, who is not quite so excited about birds, might have had a different opinion—although he really enjoyed our time there.) I would imagine the morning chorus is something to behold. There’s a lot of hiking trails available at various levels of difficulty. One caveat—you’ll be there during a wetter time than we were. So be sure to be prepared for rain (although not as much rain as you would find in a rain forest). The rain can be cumbersome for the humans and their optics, but the birding is spectacular once the rain stops. If it’s sufficiently wet/muddy, I think they provide Wellie-type boots for some of the trails. Given the naturalist’s schedule when we were there, they offered at least 2 guided hikes a day. I could have done the same hike many times, since there was so much to see and hear and it was all new to me. Be sure to purchase the small pamphlet on birds of Bellavista, available at the office. Definitely worth it to narrow down the likely options of what you’re seeing.

    On the other hand, if you want to do more than birding, you might look into Mindo (which is just a bit further down/up the road). They have rafting, zip lines, a canopy cable car over the river, and lots of birds too. From what I’ve heard folks say, Bellavista is primarily good for harder-core birders while the Mindo area let you do a variety of things during your stay.


  3. Nell says:

    Tina thank you for the information. I’ve left a message with my Travel Agent to see if they will handle booking Bella Vista for us.


  4. Nell< says:

    When you booked your tour to the Cloud Forest how was the payment arranged. I’m somewhat concerned about the request for a check that is to be mailed or overnighted to a US bank in another state than the one they live in.

    Tina wrote back:

    Our trip to Ecuador/the Galápagos Islands was organized through Elderhostel (now Exploritas). They worked with a US travel agency (Holbrook Travel) that had direct connections with the various operators in Ecuador. So for our day trip to Bellavista, we simply gave a credit card number to the Holbrook agent and she handled the reservations. But many of the tour operators based in Ecuador are not set up to accept US credit cards (or, if they are, they tend to charge a hefty transaction fee). As a result, people from outside the country who deal directly with businesses in Ecuador often have to do a SWIFT money transfer to move money from one country to another. This is a perfectly appropriate way to send money (your bank should know all about it). But it is a bit unnerving, since the funds leave your bank account and (seem to) just disappear temporarily. So you really have to trust the folks you’re dealing with. If you are working directly with the Bellavista folks, I found them to be very straightforward and reliable. They operate a lodge that gets good reviews; their reputation is important to them and I’ve seen no evidence of problems on their end. If, however, you’re booking it through a 3rd party, you might do some searching on the Internet to see if others have had good dealings with that organization. Personally, I have found the TripAdvisor travel forum to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful. This URL should take you directly to the Ecuador forum, where you can search for whatever information you might want or post your own question:

    The international transfer of money is an anxiety-provoking process. You’re wise to be cautious up front.


  5. shamba says:

    great post! i’m going to quito in a couple of weeks and have been trying to decide what to do with 4 days in quito. bellavista is high on the list – along with otavolo. i’m thinking of an overnight in bellavists – does it seem like a good idea to you (having been there)? i’m not a knowledable birder but i like looking at them. with a guide i’m sure i’ll learn more and likely get more intersted! i also love taking photos. i have asthma (no really serious attacks – yet) and my back isn’t great but i’m working on strengthening it before the trip. i think i’m going to the same islands that you went to but on a different boat. any suggestions appreciated.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s