ECUADOR - The East and West Slopes of the Andes

OCTOBER 2018 - 14 days / 13 nights (dates to be confirmed) - possible to run this in October 2017

TOUR COST (Excluding flights - c.£580 return)

5 participants - $3.695

6 participants - $3.300

7 participants - $3.015

The above prices are for staying in a hotel outside of Quito near the airport. There are options for staying in central Quito but the price is a little higher.

Although we do not yet have a firm departure date there has been quite a bit of interest in this trip and we have five participants already.

PRICE INCLUDES: Private transportation, transfers airport – hotel – airport, bilingual naturalist guide (specialized in birdwatching), accommodation based on double room in all hotels and lodges detailed in the itinerary (single supplement upon request); meals as described in the itinerary, entrance fee to Yanacocha Reserve, Alambi Reserve, Oilbird Reserve, Milpe Reserve, Silanche Reserve, Luis Agila property, Rio Blanco, Paz de las Aves Reserve, Antisana Ecological Reserve, Cayambe Coca Reserve (Papallacta area), Huacamayos Reserve, Narupa Reserve.

NOT INCLUDED: meals not specified (dinners in Quito), soft and alcoholic drinks, tips, and personal expenses.

 

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN QUITO

On your arrival in Ecuador our guide will be waiting to meet us and transfer us to our hotel to for an overnight stay.

(Dinner not included)

 

DAY 2: THE LAND OF HUMMINGBIRDS: QUITO – TANDAYAPA - MINDO

Very early in the morning we shall travel northwest of Quito crossing the western slopes of the Andes heading towards Tandayapa Valley. En route we’ll visit Yanacocha Reserve, home to the Black-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Saphirewing, Purple-backed Thornbill, Rufous Antpitta and Barred Fruiteater. Continuing our trip we hope to see other species such as Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Masked Flowerpiercer, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Shinning Sunbeam, Hooded and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanagers, Giant Conebill, Pearled Treerunner and others. 

We’ll have a box lunch en route to Alambi Cloud Forest Reserve where shall have the opportunity to walk around the trails – over 250 species of birds have been recorded at Alambi. This is one of the highest totals for any private reserve in the region. This is because Alambi covers a large range of altitudes (1450-2200masl), with several different habitats.

Recent rare or special sightings include: White-faced Nunbird, Crested Guan, Long-billed Starthroat, Maroon-chested Ground-Dove in the garden, Undulated, Yellow-breasted and Giant Antpittas, Uniform Treehunter (building a nest within 50 metres of the guesthouse), Lyre-tailed Nightjar in the parking space, Long-wattled Umbrellabird and Tamandúa Anteater. 32 hummingbird species have also been seen at Alambi, either at the feeders or in the reserve. Late afternoon you will depart to Sachatamia Lodge for dinner and overnight.

(Breakfast, Box-Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 3: MINDO: MASHPI AREA – THE OILBIRD RESERVE

After breakfast our guide will be waiting for us in order to drive us to Mashpi Reserve - this cloud forest is rich in plant species, from ferns and bromeliads to thousands of orchid species. A staggering 500 species of birds (including some 36 endemics) as well as small mammals can be seen here. This area provides some great birding and it’s famous for its impressive list of Choco endemic bird species.

Then we’ll leave for El Chontal to visit for the famous Los Tayos Cave. Actually the ‘cave’ is a deep, dark ravine where as many as 100 Oilbirds make their homes; en route you will enjoy a delicious box lunch. In the late afternoon we shall return to Sachatamia Lodge for diner and overnight.

(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 4: MINDO: RIO SILANCHE RESERVE – MILPE RESERVE 

After an early breakfast our guide will drive us to Rio Silanche, a tropical lowland reserve that covers 70 hectares (175 acres) where it is possible to see an incredible diversity of species, especially from its 15 metre high observation tower that puts one eye-to-eye with awesome mixed foraging flocks.

This important site, situated in low foothills between 300-350m, is located along an all-weather road, and it is one of the last remaining accessible forest remnants found in this key area, home to many important Choco and Tumbesian endemic bird species, including Dusky Pigeon, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Little Woodstar, Choco Trogon, Double-banded Graytail, Stub-tailed Antbird, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Gray and gold Tanager, Rose-faced Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, Maroon-tailed Parakeet, White-bearded Manakin, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Black-headed Tody-flycatcher, Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo, among many others. We’ll enjoy of a boxed lunch surrounded by this amazing nature. 

In the afternoon we will visit Milpe Bird Sanctuary; a reserve that is considered by Birdlife International as ‘An Important Bird Area’. It comprises 62 hectares (155 acres) that cover an altitudinal range from 1020-1150 m (3350-3770 ft) and includes two small rivers that converge at the bottom of a steep, forested valley. It is located along an all-weather road that many local birders consider to be one of the finest sites in all of Ecuador. Here 247 species have been found, including many of the most spectacular Choco endemic species, such as Plumbeous Forest-falcon, Moss-backed Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Chocó Trogon, Chocó Toucan, Club-winged Manakin, Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove, Double-banded Greytail, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Emerald and Scarlet-and-white Tanagers, the near-threatened Blue-whiskered Tanager and Long-wattled Umbrellabird. Late afternoon return to Sachatamia Lodge where we will diner and overnight.

(Breakfast, Box-Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 5: MINDO: THE INCREDIBLE UMBRELLABIRD – RÍO BLANCO

Early in the morning we’ll set off for Los Bancos to look for the incredible Long-wattled Umbrellabird, arriving at Luis Agila property where it is possible to find one of the few populations of this vulnerable specie.

Here we will have an amazing experience when, as we wait in silence, suddenly we shall see a group of Umbrella birds flying from one tree to another looking for insects or fruit. We may hear a bird singing somewhere and when we find it you can see how the long wattle of the male gets inflated as it sings - it’s something unique.

We shall enjoy a box lunch surrounded by the amazing nature, before returning to Sachatamia Lodge, stopping en route at Mirador del Río Blanco, a place that offers an incredible view of the valley and where we can find different species of tanagers and some hummingbirds such as the tiny Green Thorntail and the beautiful Green-crowned Brilliant. Arriving at Sachatamia Lodge we can, if we want, have a short hike around this place to see some species like the Giant and Scaled Antpittas, Chocó Toucan, Scale-headed Fruiteater, Tanager-Finch and Club-winged Manakin.

Target birds here include, Golden headed Quetzal, Toucan Barbet, Masked Trogon, Golden-naped Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Black-and-white Owl, Wattled and Sickle-winged Guan, Bronze-winged Parrot, Sparkling Violet-ear, Andean Emerald, Booted Racket-tail and Long-tailed and Violet tailed Sylphs.

Dinner and overnight.

(Breakfast, Box-Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 6: THE AMAZING COCK OF THE ROCK

Early in the morning, after a cup of hot coffee, we’lll visit the famous Paz de las Aves Refuge where we shall have the opportunity to have a truly amazing experience - visiting a Cock-of-the-rock lek, where, during the breeding season, the males produce a special sound and fly acrobatically waiting for the female to choose one of them as a mate.

Here it is possible to see four species of Antpitta – Giant, Moustached, Ochre bellied and Yellow-breasted. Then we shall visit a feeding station to see Black-chinned and Blue-winged Mountain-tanagers, Toucan Barbet, Dusky Piha, Sickle-winged Guan, Crimsom-rumped Toucanet and many more.

Returning to the main house of this reserve we’ll enjoy a typical regional breakfast and keep birding to find an Ocellated Tapaculo being fed with worms. Yellow-vented, Powerful and Crimsom-mantled Woodpeckers are all regular here as is Orange breasted Fruiteater.

We shall then head back to Sachatamia Lodge for lunch and in the afternoon we’ll return to Quito for the night.

(Breakfast and Lunch included – dinner in Quito not included)

 

DAY 7: QUITO - ANTISANA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE – GUANGO LODGE 

After breakfast we shall set off for Antisana Ecological Reserve, where we’ll visit Mica Lake in order to see Silvery Grebe, Andean Teal, Andean Ruddy Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Coot as well as many land birds such as Aplomado Falcon, Andean Gull, Andean Lapwing and Carunculated Caracara.

Here you have a high likelihood that we shall also come across the majestic Andean Condor and other species like Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Variable Hawk, Black-faced Ibis, Paramo Ground-tyrant, Paramo Pipit, Sedge Wren, Bairds Sandpiper, Cinereous Harrier, Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes, Shining Sunbeam, Red- rumped Bush-tyrant, Giant Conebill, and Spectacled Whitestart.

We’ll enjoy a delicious packed lunch en route and then we’ll continue on to Guango Lodge through the Papallacta region. This area has well conserved patches of Polylepis forest and it is an excellent place to observe high mountain bird species. The 4000-meter high paramo holds a fascinating group of high-altitude species such as Variable Hawk, Many-striped Canastero, Tawny Antpitta and Andean Condor. Other species expected in this area are the Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphire-wing, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager, Torrent Duck, Torrent Tyrannulet and the superb White-capped Dipper.

Dinner and overnight in Guango Lodge.

(Breakfast, Box-Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 8: PAPALLACTA – SAN ISIDRO LODGE

Early in the morning we’ll hike through the trails of this lodge looking for more bird species like Andean Guan, Plushcap, Slaty Finch, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Pale-naped Brush-finch, Gray-hooded Bush-tanager, Hooded Mountain-tanager, Pearled Treerunner, Mountain Avocetbill, Tourmaline Sunangel, Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper and others.

After lunch we’ll continue our trip to San Isidro Lodge where we’ll seek out specialties such as Black-chested Fruiteater, Long-tailed Antbird, White belied Antpitta, San Isidro’s Owl, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Long tailed Sylph, Barred Antthrush and the little-known Peruvian Antpitta.

In the afternoon we shall take a walk close to the lodge discovering more bird species. After dinner we will have a nocturnal walk looking for nightjars and owls. Overnight.

(Breakfast, Box-Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 9: SAN ISIDRO LODGE TRAILS 

After breakfast we shall have full day birding around the lodge. Some of the regular species include: Montane and Olive-backed Woodcreepers, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Tody-flycatcher, Black-billed Peppershrike, Inca Jay, Bluish Flowerpiercer and Subtropical Cacique! After about an hour of this, we will want to visit the Antpitta feeders, where we are likely see White-bellied Antpitta only feet away, and maybe even the very rare Peruvian Antpitta.

At dusk we shall try to spot Andean Potoo and Rufous-banded Owl.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight. 

(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 10: SAN ISIDRO LODGE AND ITS SURROUNDINGS – WILDSUMACO LODGE

After breakfast we shall depart for Wildsumaco Lodge, en route visiting the Loreto Road, officially known as the Jondachi-Hollín-Loreto-Coca Road. This road is famous for its birding opportunities. Some notable target birds along the upper Loreto Road include: Dark-breasted Spinetail, Ash-browed Spinetail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Lined Antshrike, Foothill Antwren, Olivaceous Greenlet, Yellow-whiskered Chlorospingus, and Bronze-green Euphonia. 

We shall then visit Narupa Reserve which protects a large block of eastern Andean foothill forest. Narupa has a growing list of birds that currently includes over 300 species. Five globally threatened species have been recorded here, including its flagship species, the Cerulean Warbler, a long-distance migrant that breeds in eastern North America and spends the boreal winter in northwestern South America.

In the afternoon we’ll visit the Cordillera de Los Huacamayos where we’ll follow one of the specialized birdwatching trails. Here it is possible to see many different species and we’ll look for Black-billed Mountain-toucan, White-bellied Antpitta, Spillman’s Tapaculo, Bicolored Antvireo, Greater Scythebill and the very local White-rimmed Brush-finch among others. We shall arrive at Wildsumaco Lodge in the late afternoon where we’ll have dinner and overnight.

 (Breakfast, Box-Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 11 & 12: WILDSUMACO WILDLIFE SANCTUARY  

During these two days we’ll walk the trails of this Sanctuary. Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary is located on a ridge in the Eastern Foothills of the Andes close to Sumaco National Park and Napo Galeras National Park. This lodge is located at about 1400m (4600 feet), and the reserve ranges from 1200 to 1500 m (3900 to 4900 feet) with an incredible panoramic view of the Rio Pucuno Valley and to the Andes beyond.

Considering the strategic location of this place between the Andean Foothills and the Amazon, the Sumaco area holds one of the richest avifaunas in the world. A wonderful mix of cloud forest species, foothill specialties, and typically Amazonian birds share Wildsumaco's lush subtropical rainforest with a myriad of other animals.  Many of the birds here are rare, endangered, or very difficult to see elsewhere. 

Some of the species include: Gray-tailed Piha, Blue-rumped Manakin, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Military Macaw, Buff-breasted Tody, Blackish Rail, Tropical Screech Owl, Black-banded Crake, and Chestnut-crowned Gnateater. Short-tailed Antthrush and Wing-banded Wren often sing, while more uncommon species such as Gray-throated Leaftosser and Plain-backed Antpitta are seen occasionally. The very rare Yellow-throated Spadebill has a territory along the Piha Trail and at any time the endangered Military Macaw or rare Spot-winged Parrotlet might fly by, or Black Hawk-Eagle soar overhead.

(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included)

 

DAY 13: WILDSUMACO – QUITO

After breakfast we shall have the final opportunity to enjoy this amazing place, beore returning to Quito (a four hour drive) stopping on the way to search for Orange-breasted Falcon and Cliff Clycatcher. Box lunch en route and by late afternoon we shall arrive at our hotel in Quito where we shall spend the night.

(Breakfast and Lunch included – Dinner in Quito not included)

 

DAY 14: QUITO - HOME FLIGHT.

After we have gotten a long list of birds in this unforgettable expedition to Ecuador we will be transferred to the airport to catch our international flight home.

(Breakfast included)