We would concur with a previous reviewer that Birdwatcher’s House is not recommended. As that reviewer stated, the lodging has moved out of Mindo, and is now located a $10+ taxi ride from Mindo, 5 km. from San Tadeo up a long cobbled/dirt road then 1 km. down a rocky road. The owner and bird guide, Vinicio Perez, does have a long history of birding in Ecuador but perhaps is burned out. He enjoys taking photographs but is slow to share what he knows about local birds. It's confusing to us why Sr. Perez would be in the hospitality business as he does not have a welcoming personality.
The positives are that the rooms are pleasant (hot water temperamental, wi-fi erratic) and the views across the valley when the clouds lift are beautiful. There are good walking opportunities up and down the road and the birding is good where there are remnant forest patches. When asked, the owner did drive us a few km. down the road so we could walk to better birding habitat.
Birdwatcher's House is located just off the Nono-Mindo Road, a famed birding site. Unfortunately, it's on a stretch of the road that has been heavily cut over and converted to pasturage. It's a long walk in either direction to get to extensive intact forest. To be fair, Vinicio's land does include some good forest with a short trail through it, but you won't want to confine your birding to just that patch.
Note that the website offers a volunteer opportunity for birders (at $15/pp/day) but it’s unlikely you will be doing much related to birding. The lodging at this point has few guests so you will not be helping with tours, which we were very disappointed to learn upon our arrival. Volunteers before us planned to stay a month and left angrily after 1 week; we had planned to stay 6 weeks but left (on good terms) after 3 weeks. In both cases the owner wanted more money than was due him at the end of our stays.
Our work consisted of cooking and washing dishes, heavy hoeing and weeding (no gloves), teaching some English to his one employee, graphics, creating a bird checklist, and website editing. Meals are mostly in silence and the atmosphere is not one of joy. Sr. Perez hadn’t paid his electric bill so we were without power for 2 days and he was reluctant to use the generator. Note: the cloud forest can be cold, rainy and damp.
Our recommendation for here: stay at Bellavista Lodge 7 km. down the road as it’s in great birding habitat, the people are positive and helpful, the food better, and overall it’s a better value. If you’re wanting to volunteer somewhere, keep looking.
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