Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Day 6

Day #6

The Hacienda La Carriona  was something! And … our trip was now more than half-over!

Hacienda La Carriona

We left after breakfast for the climb to the paramo and Volcan Antisana, getting a view of Volcan Cotopaxi on the way. Our route brought us to the snout of a lava flow that had, presumably, originated on Antisana, where we saw that the lava was being “mined” for construction materials. The road followed along the edge of the flow for a short distance, before climbing to higher altitude, and bringing us to Tambo Condor. This lodge is situated close to the first entry station and not far below the tree line. It sits across a valley from a group of cliffs that host condor nests, and we soon spotted a soaring condor.

Condor, at about a mile away

We had some coffee and spent some time observing the feeders.

Black-tailed Trainbearer

Shining Sunbeam

Shining Sunbeam

Shining Sunbeams

Giant Hummingbird

High-altitude plant

The lava flow had dammed the stream in the valley below, creating this lake


We left Tambo Condor to continue the drive uphill to the paramo. Since the road would end in the vicinity of Volcan Antisana, we would backtrack and return here for lunch.


Carunculated Caracara. The word “carunculated” is defined as “a fleshy outgrowth on the heads of certain birds”

Fence post

On the paramo, with Volcan Sincholagua (16, 073′)) to the south.

Stout-billed Cinclodes, at the spot seen in the above photo

Volcan Sincholagua

The base of Volcan Antisana (18,713′)


Carunculated Caracara

Yellow flower

Andean Gull

We also saw, at this location, the Black-faced or Andean Ibis, but I failed to get any images that were sufficiently in-focus. The elevation here was at or over 14,000′.

Distant telephoto view of glaciers and moraines on Volcan Antisana

I would have loved to fish this very pretty creek

I still would have loved to fish this very pretty creek

At the upper entry station

Creek at the second upper entry station

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, at the upper entry station

The road ended at the boat launch on the Laguna de Mica (a reservoir), which contains, as I later learned, some good-sized rainbow trout. The reservoir sits about 5 miles away from Volcan Antisana.

Andean Teal

Slate-colored Coots

Glaciated face and summit cornice on Volcan Antisana

After this thrilling visit to the paramo and, especially, Volcan Antisana, we returned to Tambo Condor and lunch.

Tambo Condor

The cliffs opposite Tambo Condor, with a soaring condor exactly centered in the photo

Giant Humminbird

Hooded Siskin

Appetizer served with lunch

After lunch, we departed Tambo Condor downhill, and turned north, to pick up the highway to Papallacta Pass (13,000+ elevation). At the pass, Moses turned off the highway, and began some 4-wheel bus driving up a road that climbed the ridge to the north. We followed this road to an assembly of transmitters at about 14,500′ elevation, that, though looking very ramshackle, were guarded by two uniformed men. These men and their families lived up there, Edwin told us. The road and area are contained in the Cayambe-Coca National Park.

View to the south

The road, and lakes, view to the south

View of Papallacta Pass. View to the south.

There were some nice views to be had, and interesting looking dwarf flowers and cushion plants to the sides of the installations.

View to the east

View to the east

Crumbly-looking ridge, to the west

View to the south and west

Cushion plant

Cushion plant

Cushion plant

Cushion plant detail

Cushion plant detail

Lake and reservoir beyond, view to the east

Lake and road

Cushion plant

Edwin and Karen toiled further up the ridge (to 14, 600′ elevation) in search of the Rufous-bellied Seed-Snipe, which they eventually found and Karen photographed. Here are her two photos:

We started back down and then Edwin heard an Ecuadorian Hillstar.

Ecuadorian Hillstar

Ecuadorian Hillstar

This Sedge Wren was singing up a storm

We returned from Volcan Antisana to an intersection near H. La Carriona and then intersected the route to and over Papallacta Pass

We returned to the pass, and headed downhill into the cloud forest on the eastern side of the Andes. Our destination was Cabañas San Isidro, where we would spend two days and three nights.

Tropical Kingbird on the porch of Cabañas San Isidro

Link to Day #7:

About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: 2. Coyote Buttes: 3. Four Cornered, the Land: 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: 5. Rio Marañon: 6. Rio Grande:
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3 Responses to Birding in the Ecuadorian Andes, Day 6

  1. Jim Emenegger says:

    More great pics, Steve. Love the cushion plant sequence. Sweet Plumbeous Sierra Finch! And the Trainbearer. And the Sedge Wren. All good stuff!


  2. believesteve says:

    Thanks again. I love those nature abstracts.


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