Birding Tour Ecuador: The North, with Optional Extension to the Amazon 2018
Ecuador has the highest bird species diversity per square kilometer on the planet and offers some of the best birding of South America. Due to the short distances to drive, good tourist infrastructure, and wonderful lodges and other facilities for birders, including a multitude of hummingbird and anpitta feeder stations as well, Ecuador is perhaps the most obligatory destination on the continent.
Our Birding Tour Ecuador offers the best of the country: The west and east slopes of the Andes together make for an exciting 15-day tour.
We will start birding at higher elevations in the Yanacocha Reserve near Quito, where species like Sword-billed Hummingbird, Tyrian Metaltail, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Rufous Wren, and Rufous and Tawny Antpittas are expected.
We will continue birding the renowned old Nono-Mindo Road along the Tandayapa Valley and the town of Mindo, spending four nights at our favorite Septimo Paraiso Lodge as our base to explore different reserves in the area, like the famous Angel Paz Reserve, where we have excellent chances to have close-up views of four anpittas in one morning, namely Giant, Yellow-breasted, Moustached, and Ochre-breasted Antpittas, and with luck even the secretive Rufous-breasted Antthrush and Ocellated Tapaculo. We will also enjoy our first view of Andean Cock-of-the-rock and of a good number of fruit-eating birds like Crimson-rumped Toucanet and several flocks of tanagers. For one night we will stay at the famous Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve to maximize our chances for Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Ocellated Tapaculo, and the mythical Tanager Finch.
Then we will explore the Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, looking for some low-elevation and Chocó specialists like Orange-fronted Barbet, Dusky Pigeon, Choco Trogon, Rose-faced Parrot, Blue-lored Antbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Red-headed Barbet, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Red-faced Spinetail, Double-toothed Kite, Toucan Barbet, and many more.
The Milpe Bird Sanctuary will provide species such as Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Club-winged Manakin, and Moss-backed Tanager, while a visit to the Rio Palenque Reserve may yield Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Barred and White-whiskered Puffbirds, Ecuadorian Trogon, Scarlet-backed, Guayaquil, and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner, Dot-winged Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, and Black-headed Antthrush. Finally, birding the Mashpi Reserve might provide views of Indigo Flowerpiercer, Glistening-green Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, and Grey-and-gold Tanager.
After a week of birding the western lowlands we return to Quito and from there continue our trip, exploring Antisana National Park in search of Andean Condor, Carunculated Caracara, Andean Ibis, Paramo Pipit, Paramo Ground Tyrant, Andean Tit-Spinetail, and Ecuadorian Hillstar among other high-Andes specialists. Before descending into the eastern lowlands we will explore the famous Papallacta Pass, where we will search for the highly-prized, endemic race of Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe.
Next we will explore the cloudforest mountains, visiting famous Cabañas San Isidro, where we will look for White-bellied Antpitta, the mysterious “San Isidro Owl”, Andean Motmot, Masked Trogon, Spillmann’s Tapaculo, and others.
Further in the upper tropical forests the fine Wildsumaco Lodge will be a delightful place to stay, looking for species like Fiery-throated and Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, Yellow-throated Toucan, Many-banded Aracari, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Orange-eared, Paradise, and Green-and-gold Tanagers, Plain-backed Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Roraiman, Tropical, and Rufescent Screech Owls, Band-bellied Owl, and several species of hummingbirds on the feeders, including Gould’s Jewelfront, Booted Racket- tail, and Wire-crested Thorntail.
Finally, we have an extension tour to the Amazon basin to explore Gareno Lodge, which is probably the best place to see Rufous Potoo, and Napo Wildlife Center, where we have chances to see the most beautiful and representative Amazon species such as Blue-and-yellow, Scarlet, and Red-bellied Macaws, Black-necked Red Cotinga, Agami Heron, Hoatzin, and forest skulkers like Banded Antbird.
Duration: 15 days
Limit (Group Size): 4 - 8
Date Start: January 06, 2018
Date End: January 20, 2018
Tour Start: Quito
Tour End: Quito
The dates for the Amazon extension are 19 – 25 January 2018.
We ask you to look for flights that arrive in Quito in the afternoon and depart late in the evening. If you arrive early in the morning on the first day you might have to wait at the hotel until check-in, which is at 16:00. We will arrive in Quito back from Wildsumaco on the last day at about 17:00, and you have to be at the airport three hours before the flight.
Quito is located 2850 meters above sea level (9350 feet), and the highest places of the tour are Antisana at 3100 meters above sea level (10170 feet) and the Papallacta Pass at 3300 meters (10826 feet).
Most of the birding is from the road, but we have to explore several steep trails throughout the trip, which can go from easy to moderate.
Gareno Lodge provides basic service with rustic, wooded cabins with private bathroom, but neither electricity nor hot shower. The food is also very simple. We will bird by the road and along the trails. Some of the trails might be a bit steep for people who have walking difficulties. However, birding is extremely good, and we decided to stay two nights to see as many species as possible, including Rufous Potoo. For those for whom luxurious or comfortable accommodation is an important factor on their holiday, this place might not be the best choice.
Galo Real will lead the main trip as well as the extension. Those of our clients that are not joining the extension will be escorted by a staff member from Wildsumaco on the last day on their transfer from Wildsumaco back to Quito.
Price: Main tour: US$6831 per person sharing (4 people), US$6096 (5 people). US$5900 (6 - 8 people); Extension: US$3240 per person sharing (4 people), US$3020 (5 people), US$2985 (6 - 8 people).
Single Supplement: Main tour: US$863, Extension: US$1012
Accommodation (hotels and lodges)
All meals (except where indicated)
Water supply during the tour
Transfer to and from the airport
Any activity or service on day 1 (if arriving in the morning)
Dinner the first day in Quito and the last day in Quito
Hotel in Quito on Day 15 if necessary
Drinks and personal expenses
International flights and airport taxes
All ground and boat transportation
Domestic flight ticket from Coca to Quito
All accommodation at Gareno and Napo Wildlife Center lodges
All meals (except where indicated)
Drinks at the lodges
Additional night in Quito on the last day
Dinner the last night in Quito
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Featured Guide - Galo Real
Tour Leader for Birding Ecotours Galo Real was born and raised in the heart of the Andes in Quito, Ecuador. After graduating with a degree in Eco-tourism from Catholic University in Quito (PUCE), he ...See guide details
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What our clients say
I have travelled thousands of kilometres with Raul driving. I have never seen him do anything hazardous or make a mistake while at the wheel. His van is clean and well maintained. He has the good sense to stop and ask for directions when needed. He stops for regular rests when on long journeys. Raul is very interested in birds and we were able to add a few species to our lists. He got very excited when I spotted a male Lesser Rhea with seven young close to the road. He does not compromise our security by leaving the van unattended despite wanting to join us birding. Raul is very good company and has made great progress with his English.