Cotopaxi National Park Cotopaxi National Park is an ecological sanctuary surrounding the Cotopaxi Volcano - one of the world's highest active volcanoes. The permanently snow-covered peak towers 5,897 metres above the valley and is located 75 kilometres south of Quito in the Ecuadorean Andes. Typical mammals frequenting the park include red brocket deer, Andean fox, Andean puma and white- tailed deer, while rarer species include the Andean speckled bear found on the eastern slopes of the park. There are also huge herds of guanacos. Birdlife is plentiful here too with the orange- faced falcon and Andean gull present to around 4,000 metres, and if you are lucky Andean condor. Cotopaxi is easily visited and highly recommended as a day trip from Quito or, for a real treat, stay in our suggested property. San Agustin de Callo HIGH Built on top of a former Inca temple during the colonial times, this is perhaps one of the most stunning haciendas in Ecuador. At 3,000 metres with beautiful views of Cotopaxi itself, this magnifi cent hacienda has 11 unique rooms, a wonderful restaurant, exceptional cuisine and a range of activities on offer from horse- riding to walking and mountain biking. If you'd like even more time exploring the valleys, the Chiva Express is a purpose- built ' bus on rails' that does various journeys taking in Cotopaxi and the attractive towns of Cuenca and Riobamba. Mindo Cloud Forest Heading north- west from Quito is Mindo Cloud Forest. Considered to be one of the most important birding areas in South America, it hosts over 500 species of birds and is a paradise of orchids and waterfalls. Here, you may even be fortunate enough to see the elusive Andean cock- of- the- rock. It is possible to visit Mindo as a day trip from Quito, but for the serious naturalist and those with a little more time we recommend a two- night stop. Suspendisse lorem tellus. Sachatamia Lodge MID Satchatamia Lodge is a well- placed lodge from which to enjoy Mindo. In its own private forest adjacent to the nationally protected reserve it offers nice rooms and good wholesome cuisine as well as guided activities. Suspendisse lorem tellus. Septimo Paraiso MID Septimo Paraiso is a simple lodge with 24 rooms, adjacent to the forest. The food is good and the rooms comfortable. Papallacta & Antisana Less than two hours east of Quito is Papallacta, nestled at the foot of Mt. Antisana, Ecuador's fourth highest mountain. An hour's drive south- east from Quito the scenery becomes spectacular with views of rocky peaks and a vast sweep of paramo vegetation above the tree line. You will have a chance to see the impressive lava fl ow at Antisanilla, and the gigantic wall of cliffs across a narrow canyon, where Andean condors are regularly seen. Around the many paramo lakes and ponds are lichens, gentians and orchids. For birders there is the opportunity to see black- faced ibis, cinereous conebill, Andean teal, Andean lapwing, carunculated caracara and black- winged dove. Guango Lodge MID Guango Lodge is set in a forested area 11 kilometres from Papallacta. Its surrounding environment offers an array of bird and plant life, and the lodge itself serves good food. You'll be accommodated in comfortable en- suite rooms. THE AMERICAS | ECUADOR & THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS 141 Fact! We work with a local partner in Ecuador and the Galapagos who helps to keep these precious environments pristine by participating in clean- up events and other practical measures to help Galapagos conservation. Or visit us on the web www. wildlifeworldwide. com Fact! If you're visiting Ecuador between June and September, visit Machalilla. It is peak whale- watching season and it's estimated that some 300 humpback whales pass through the area on migration.
Otavalo This beautiful area of lakes and mountains, indigenous communities and lots of handicrafts is approximately two hours north of Quito. Whilst it makes a perfect full day trip from Quito, we also recommend staying overnight in a colonial hacienda. lorem tellus. Hacienda Zuleta HIGH Hacienda Zuleta is a small estate and working farm with only 15 rooms available to guests. It is intimate, cosy and private, and the hospitality here is superb. Each of the rooms has a fi replace for added warmth in the cold evenings. A particular attraction of this hacienda is that it is home to an important Andean condor rehabilitation programme. The Condor Huasi project aims to conserve condor populations by observing their behaviour and protecting wild colonies from hunters. Education of local communities is also a key part of the project. The Amazon This vast region protects more species of plant and mammal than almost any area of a similar size. It is home to a simply astonishing wildlife repertoire - 15% of all the bird species on the planet, over 100 species of mammal and 300 species of fi sh. And that's not to mention the 1000 species of butterfl y, freshwater dolphins, caimans, 10 monkey species and innumerable exotic fl owers. Of particular interest to you may be to try and sight the mystical and enigmatic jaguar. . Sacha Jungle Lodge HIGH OUR CHOICE The 26 individual en- suite cabins at Sacha Jungle Lodge are constructed using local materials and traditional methods. There is a main dining and observation area all surrounded by 2,500 hectares of privately- owned jungle. All excursions are accompanied by an English- speaking naturalist guide and a local Indian guide. The lodge has a spectacular 275- metre canopy walkway, which allows you to get an unprecedented look at the rainforest's animals and birds. llus. Napo Wildlife Centre HIGH Napo Wildlife Centre is run in conjunction with the local Anangu Quichua Community and is involved in many different conservation projects. The 12 cabanas have been designed with comfort in mind, with private porches for relaxing when you're not in the rainforest. La Selva MID La Selva is a simple and rustic lodge built to a native design. The lodge accommodates a maximum of 40 guests and offers forest walks and excursions by motorised and dugout canoe. 142Talk to an expert 0845 130 6982 Amazon cruises For more information on cruises in the Amazon, please see page 152, or see our website.