Mindo cloudforest

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The cloudforest between the highlands and coast boasts stunning orchids, hummingbirds and other species in profusion including the famous cock-of-the-rock and the rare spectacled bear.

Just a few hours’ drive from the capital is a bird-watcher’s heaven, an incredible region of rich biodiversity, especially for its vast array of vividly coloured birds amid an enchanted land of giant nodding ferns and brilliant orchids. Hike with naturalist guides through forest trails in the early morning, seeking rare bird species among the fluttering butterflies and hummingbirds.

And then there are flocks of chattering parrots to spot, or sightings of toucans up in the canopy. In this small region northwest of Quito, you can spot an estimated 500 species (roughly a third of all of the Amazon Basin spread over five countries), including some 36 endemic species, such as mannakin, jay and tanager.

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