A short distance west from Quito, as the condor flies, lies Yanacocha or the Inca’s lagoon. Though this pre-hispanic irrigation system has log dried up the old road that passes by here is a gem for nature lovers and bird-watchers. It makes an ideal half-day away from the city. Situated on the slopes of volcano Pichincha, this is a tranquil spot set among high Andean forests, with giant gunnera leaves, native polylepis trees and rare birds such as the Black-breasted puffleg, a kind of hummingbird only found here. We failed to spot one of these but saw about 30 other species including dozens of hummingbirds, a nightjar snoozing a metre from the path. I also saw a tawny antpitta a rare bird indeed. It is a great place for a picnic though watch the altitude as it is over 3,000m. Fortunately the path is quite gentle. For tailor-made birding tours of Ecuador please contact us.