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Ecuador - A Country for Birdwatchers
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Ecuador - A Country for Birdwatchers

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 9 - 14 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 8 people
Destination(s): Ecuador  
Specialty Categories: Birdwatching  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 1656 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1921 US Dollar (USD)

The smallest country in the rugged Andean highlands, Ecuador has an array of vibrant indigenous cultures, well-preserved colonial architecture, otherworldly volcanic landscapes and dense rain forest. And all that in a nation no bigger than the US state of Nevada. Ecuador is one of the premiere destinations for birding in the world, with about 1,535 known bird species in the continental area plus 38 more endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Geographic good fortune has blessed Ecuador with a wide variety of fauna zones, including some of the richest on this planet, each with its characteristic birds. Ecuador's Amazonian fauna zone alone has more than 600 species of birds, and several other Ecuadorian zones are nearly as rich.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Upon your arrival to Quito, our guides will be waiting for you to meet and transfer you to your hotel. Night at Dann Carlton, Sebastian, or Cafe Cultura Hotels. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 2: Very early in the morning we will drive to Yanacocha Reserve in the high montane cloud forest on Volcan Pichincha at 11,300ft, traveling to the northwest of Quito crossing the west slope of the Andes range to the Tandayapa region enjoying our box lunch en-route. The reserve protects 964 ha of elfin Polylepis forest which is home to the Black-breasted Puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis). As far as we are aware, the reserve contains the entire world range of this very rare hummingbird. Birds in this area may include Black-collared Jay, Barred Fruiteater, Hooded and Scarlet-bellied and the Choco Endemic Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers.

In the afternoon, we will visit the famous Tony's House, where with a cup of coffee and accompanied by Tony, we will see a great variety of birds, especially hummingbirds with more than 30 species recorded, including Green-tailed Trainbearer, Shining Sunbeam, Tyrian Metaltail, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Buff-rumped Starfrontlet, Buff-tailed Coronets, Collared Inca and White-tailed Hillstar, Choco Endemics here may include Brown Inca, Violet-tailed Slyph and Gorgeted Sunangel. Whilst on Tony’s Balcony we will look skywards for the rare Spot-fronted Swift in amongst the common Chestnut-collared Swift and we will seek raptors such as Plain-breasted Hawk and Barred Forest-Falcon. Late afternoon departure to Maquipucuna Reserve. Night at Maquipucuna Lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 3: We will arise very early and, after a cup of coffee or tea and a quick bite, we will hike one of the trails close to the lodge. Here we will likely encounter a great deal of bird activity. Exciting birds we hope to encounter include Golden-headed Quetzal, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Violet-tailed Sylph, and Broad-billed Motmot. After breakfast we will visit some of the projects of this foundation. Later we will have lunch and then take a short walk in the area to spot more incredible birds. Night at Maquipucuna Lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 4: Birding in the morning around Maquipucuna Lodge, followed by breakfast and departure to the outstanding Mindo, one of the best known birding localities in Ecuador, with an impressive bird list of 360 species, highlights including Maroon-tailed Parakeet, Toucan Barbet, Nariño Tapaculo, Golden-headed Quetzal and Golden and Flame-faced Tanager.Along the way to Mindo, more exactly, Sachatamia Lodge, we will be keeping an eye open for many species that we may observe from roadside flocks. On arrival at Scahatamia a delicious lunch will be waiting for us. In the afternoon, we will walk near Sachatamia seeking out the beautiful Long-wattled Umbrellabird and other species such as Giant and Scaled Antpitta, Choco Toucan, Scaled Fruiteater, Tanager-Finch and Club-winged Manakin.

Target birds here include Wattled and Sickle-winged Guan, Bronze-winged Parrot, Sparkling Violet-ear, Andean Emerald, Booted Racket-tail and Long-tailed Sylph. We will also investigate their hummingbird feeders, which attract many of the resident hummingbirds of the Mindo region, but also include the rare Choco endemics Empress Brilliant and Velvet-Purple Coronet. Night at Sachatamia Lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 5: Early in the morning, we will have the opportunity to have one of the most amazing experiences, visiting the Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek. In the breeding season, the males produce a special sound and fly and dance about like acrobats waiting for the female to choose one of them to mate with. This is truly one of the most awe-inspiring sights in the neotropics. After breakfast we will walk through the different trails of Mindo-Nambillo Reserve. This is an excellent area for birding. We will have lunch in Mindo Gardens thus enabling us to continue exploring this beautiful forest where highlights are likely to include Toucan Barbet, Sunbittern, and Cloud-forest Pygmy-owl before returning to Sachatamia. Night at Sachatamia Lodge. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 6: We will have breakfast and time to walk in the area looking for more bird species such as Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crested Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Choco Toucan, and Powerful Woodpecker. Other colorful birds we may see here include Blue-winged Mountain-tanager,, Green and Black Fruiteater, and Moss-backed Tanager. After lunch we will continue our trip back to Quito. On the way, we will stop at the Mitad del Mundo "Middle of the World" to have the unusual opportunity to be in two hemispheres at the same time! Night - Dann Carlton, Sebastian, or Cafe Cultura Hotels. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 7: After breakfast we will be transferred to the Antisana Ecological Reserve (Volcano Antisana is the 4th largest volcano in Ecuador at 5758m, 17274ft), where we will observe many representative bird species of the highlands including Shining Sunbeam, Red- rumped Bush-Tyrant, Paramo Pipit, Giant Conebill, and Spectacled Whitestart. In the morning we will go to Mica Lake in order to see Silvery Grebe, Andean Teal, Andean Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Coot and other high Andean waterfowl, as well as many land birds such as Aplomado Falcon, Andean Gull, Andean Lapwing and Carunculated Caracara. Here we have a high probability of connecting with the majestic Andean Condor and while we are looking upwards for this we will also be on the lookout for Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and Variable Hawk. We should also find both Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes here and Black-faced Ibis, an extremely rare species in Ecuador, all of this set amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

We will enjoy a nice lunch in Hacienda Antisana. After lunch, we will travel to the Papallacta region. This area has well conserved patches of Polylepis forest and is an excellent place to observe high mountain bird species. The 4000-meter high páramo holds a fascinating group of high-altitude species. We hope to see Variable Hawk, Many-striped Canastero, Tawny Antpitta and, perhaps, an Andean Condor or two. We search nearby "polylepis" groves for specialties such as Black-backed Bush-Tanager. Lower down near the town of Papallacta, we watch for the spectacular Sword-billed Hummingbird as well as a host of other great birds like Great Sapphire-wing, and the colorful Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. We will also scan the Río Papallacta for the "torrent trio" of Torrent Duck, Torrent Tyrannulet and the superb White-capped Dipper. From here, we will continue our trip to Cabañas San Isidro. Night Cabañas San Isidro. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 8: Early in the morning we will begin our hike trough some of the different trails of the lodge, searching for bird activity. We will seek out specialties such as Black-chested Fruiteater, Long-tailed Antbird, Barred Antthrush and the little-known Peruvian Antpitta, a nest of which was discovered right on the property! We will return to the lodge for breakfast and later we will travel to the Cordillera de Los Huacamayos where we walk one of the trails specialized for birdwatching. Here it is possible to see many different species and we’ll look for Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, White-bellied Antpitta, Bicolored Antvireo and the very local White-rimmed Brush-Finch among others. We will have a box lunch en route on our way back to San Isidro. Night at Cabañas San Isidro. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 9: Breakfast and departure to Quito after a enlightening trip of birding, full of a variety of ecosystems, beautiful views, cozy places, wonderful food, and the most spectacular, colorful birds. In Quito we will have time to rest or visit the city followed by a Farewell dinner party. Night at - Dann Carlton, Sebastian, or Cafe Cultura Hotels. Includes: (B), (L), (D).

Day 10: After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for flights home. Or if you chose, you may continue for 5 days to the rainforest area of Napo (see below). Napo Wildlife Center is located in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon region (250 Mts., 820 ft above sea level), 82 kilometers (51 miles) from Coca, one of the most important cities of the region known as Oriente. A visit to the Napo Wildlife Center will guarantee observations of many rainforest birds and other wildlife. Napo Wildlife Center is one of the most beautiful locations in the Ecuadorian rainforest. This eco-lodge was created in a closed partnership by the initiative of Añangu Quichua local community with the support of the association Tropical Nature Conservation. This project includes the conservation of over 52,000 acres (over 21,400 hectares) of the most pristine Amazonian Rainforest within the Yasunì National Park, an important biosphere reserve. More than 560 bird species have been recorded at the Napo Wildlife Center making a trip here a definite highlight on any tour to Ecuador.

To get to Napo Wildlife Center, we will fly by jet from Quito to the town of Coca (officially known as Francisco de Orellana ) on the Napo River. After a short drive from the airport to the dock, we board a large, motorized, covered canoe for a scenic two-hour trip down the Napo River. Upon arriving at the entrance to the Nwc Reserve, we switch to smaller, dugout canoes and are paddled up the black-water creek to the lake and lodge (no motorized transport is allowed on the creek or lake so that wildlife isn't disturbed).The trip can take anywhere from one to three hours. Along the way, we might see river otters, potoos, kingfishers, hoatzins, jacamars, hawks, and several species of monkey. We will eat lunch en route and arrive at the lodge by late afternoon.

There are many activities to keep you well occupied at Napo. However you chose to spend your time on this rainforest extention tour, you are sure to be richly rewarded! Come see why at the 2004 British BirdFair, Victor Emanuel declared this lodge "One of the Ten Best Birding Areas of the World".

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Accommodations
- All meals
- Private transportation
- Bilingual naturalist guide (specialized on birdwatching)
- All entrance fees.

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South America   Ecuador   Nature & Wildlife   Birdwatching