The Best Places to Photograph Birds in Ecuador

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hoatzin | © Francesco Veronesi from Italy / Wikimedia Commons</a>
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hoatzin | © Francesco Veronesi from Italy / Wikimedia Commons</a>
Photo of Angela Drake
Founder, Not Your Average American20 July 2017

With 1,620 species of birds, Ecuador is an excellent place not just for birdwatchers but for bird photographers. If you prefer to see your birds through a camera lens rather than a set of binoculars, check out this list of great places to easily photograph birds.

Between Quito and pacific coast

Alambi Cloud Forest Reserve

Where the Quito-Mindo highway crosses the Rio Nanegalito lies a tiny property called Alambi. The garden is a collection of brightly flowering plants, tall shade trees, and well-placed perches near dozens of sugar feeders, making for excellent photo opportunities.

Red Headed Barbet, Ecuador | © Lip Kee / Flickr

Angel Paz Reserve

This small reserve is owned by Angel Paz, who might as well be known as the “Bird Whisperer.” His small lodge has become famous for two reasons: his ability to attract the small, shy ground birds of the Antpitta family and the close proximity of the lodge to two cock-of-the-rock leks. Because the birds approach Angel and have become accustomed to some human presence, they are easier to photograph. The lodge grounds include a small hummingbird garden and an overlook the canopy of a huge tree often visited by toucan barbets, crimson-rumped toucanets, and several species of tanager.

Crimson-rumped Toucanet | © Lip Kee / Wikimedia Commons

Mindo Cloudforest Foundation

Mindo Cloudforest Foundation lies just off the highway before San Miguel de los Bancos. The small garden attracts many birds—including rufous motmot, choco toucan, and several species of tanagers—while sugar feeders buzz with dozens of hummingbirds, including the striking green-crowned woodnymph.

Green Crowned Woodnymph Hummingbird, Milpe, Ecuador | © Lip Kee / Flickr

Between Quito and Amazon Basin

Guango Lodge

Guango Lodge provides a well-designed garden perfect for framing excellent photos of hummingbirds. While there are several sugar feeders, flowering plants also attract several species, making natural shots of these stunning birds easier to obtain.

Long-tailed Sylph, Guango Lodge | © Andy Morffew / Flickr

Cabañas San Isidro

The hummingbird garden at Cabañas San Isidro includes a comfortable patio where photographers can set up tripods and protect extra equipment from late afternoon rains. Great photography can also take place from the roof of the community room near the cabins; the patio there looks directly into the trees, where species like the russet-backed oropendola, green jay, and mountain cacique are commonly seen.

Green Jay | © Don Faulkner / Wikimedia Commons

Amazon Basin

Laguna Paikawe

The Amazon Basin is known for wildlife lodges in the middle of the jungle, but it is possible to photograph birds in easier to reach destinations. While there are no feeders at Laguna Paikawe, the boat ride on the waters of Lake Paikawe provides excellent opportunities to photograph wild birds in fairly close conditions. Especially exciting in this location are the prehistoric-looking hoatzins.

Hoatzin | © Francesco Veronesi from Italy / Wikimedia Commons

Wildsumaco Lodge

Wildsumaco Lodge has several locations that make for great bird photography. Its patio has views directly into the trees where tanagers regularly perch (and tamarin monkeys regularly visit), and its hummingbird garden has feeders and native plants to attract multiple species. Along the trail, guides regularly find seasonal hidden spots with sleeping owls or nesting parrots.

Golden Tailed Sapphire | © Fernando Flores / Flickr

Southern Ecuador

Jocotoco Reserves

The Jocotoco Foundation runs three different reserves in southern Ecuador, each with great locations for bird photography: Umbrella Bird Lodge (also known as Buenaventura); Urraca Lodge near the Peru border; and Casa Simpson in the Reserva Tapichalaca, one of the few east slope lodges in southern Ecuador.

Cabañas Ecologica Copalinga

In the small community of Zamora, on the border of the Podocarpus National Park, lies the tiny Cabañas Ecologica Copalinga. This lodge has an open-air dining room looking out into the forest, and a few feeders attract species closer your camera lens, but it is the native fruiting trees that really bring in birds like the white-breasted parakeet.

Copalinga Eco-Lodge, Vía al Podocarpus Km3, Cumbaratza, Ecuador, +593 99 347 7013

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