ECUADOR: A PERFECT DESTINATION FOR BIRD WATCHERS Ecuador is one of 17 countries in the world classified as "megadiverse" by UNESCO, with an incredible variety of birds, reptiles, mammals and orchids. In fact Ecuador is the most megadiverse country per square kilometre in that list. Ecuador has recorded 1,640 species of birds (a world record per square meter), 132 species of hummingbirds, plus 38 more endemic to the Galapagos Islands. This makes Ecuador the fourth country in the world with the highest diversity of birds in the world. 18% of Ecuador’s territory is considered a protected area in order to conserve such unique biodiversity. Ecosystems in the country go from sea level to 6400 meters (20997 feets) aprox. There are 46 ecosystems formed by paramos, woods, valleys and pacific ocean, all of them located in different climatic zones . Country´s small size allows to travel and cover its territory in smaller amounts of time compared with other destinations. Going from one ecosystem to other can take less than 20 min. Additionally to all the features mentioned above , Ecuador´s wonderful scenery, good infraestructure, and warm people makes this country a birdwatcher´s paradise, one of the best destinations for birdwatching around the world. Source of information: Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism / Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment
Birds of Northern Ecuador Altitude Range 2000 to 14,000 feet aprox. Travelledarea Western slopes: Paramo, Cloud forest, Chocó lowlands, Subtropical rainforest. Eastern slopes: High andes, Cloud forest, Subtropical zone, Humid temperate forest. Highlights El Choco is one of the best rain forests in the world, more than 600 species have been recorded in this area, many of them endemics.
Cloud forest is the home to the Cock of the rocks, hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans, antpittas among other species.
Subtropical rainforest is one of the most biodiverse areas in the country.
Birds of Northern Ecuador ITINERARY DETAILS Day 1: Quito. Arrival in Quito. Meet your guide and be transferred to the hotel. Overnight: Hotel Hilton Colon Meals: -/-/- Day 2: Quito- Cloud Forest. Pick up from the hotel early in the morning. Drive to Yanacocha reserve, located on the slopes of Volcan Pichincha, just an hour outside of Quito. The reserve protects a large area (960 ha) of Polylepis woodland on the slopes of Volcan Pichincha. Much of this woodland has been removed for charcoal production and for agriculture. The reserve protects 964 ha of elfin Polylepis forest which is home to the Black-breasted Puffleg (Eriocnemisnigrivestis). The reserve contains a big world range of this very rare hummingbird. Continue your trip through the Nono – Mindo Eco Road. Arrive to Mindo in the afternoon. Overnight in the area. Overnight: SachatamiaLodgeMeals: B/L/D
Day 3: Angel Paz bird reserve – Mindo - Nambillo Protected Forest. Early in the morning depart from Sachatamia to visit Angel Paz Antpitta reserve (45 min driving), Angel is a resident from the Nanegalito area who decided to protect his property and convert it in an Antpittas and cock of the rock sanctuary. Three usually elusive Antpittas can be seen at truly incredibly close quarters, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, MoustachedAntpitta, and Giant Antpitta. Continue with a hike though the Mindo-Nambillo Protected Forest, which stretches out over 19 200 hectares, between an elevation that ranges 1 180 m to 4 780 m. Hundreds of bird species (400 species) have been recorded here. Overnight: Sachatamia Lodge. Meals: B/L/D
Birds of Northern Ecuador Day 4: Silanche Early in the morning depart to Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, an 80 hectare (200 acre) Chocó lowland. This important site, one of the last remaining accessible forest remnants found in this key area, is situated in low foothills between 300-350m. The main feature at Silanche is the incredible birding: mixed flocks bombard the visitor all day without a break. Furthermore these flocks include many important Chocó endemics like Purple-chested Hummingbird, Chocó Trogon, Double-banded Graytail, Griscom’sAntwren, Stub-tailed Antbird, Black-tipped Cotinga, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Blue-whiskered Tanager. The reserve is comprised of a mixture of primary forest, regenerating forest, former plantation and new agro-forestry parcels. In addition to the canopy observation tower, extensive trails and footbridges make for easy exploration of the forest. In the afternoon return to the lodge. Overnight: Sachatamia Lodge. Meals: B/L/D
Day 5: Milpe reserve. Leave Sachatamia after breakfast. Continue to San Jorge de Milpe Orchid and Bird Lodge. Reserve, located in the Subtropical Rainforest just outside of Mindo. .Spend the morning at the Reserve exploring the exquisite cloud forest, its magical trails, and waterfalls; find colorful birds and beautiful orchids. Return to Quito’s area. Overnight: Hacienda La CarrionaMeals: B/L/D
Day 6: Antisana Reserve. Pick up for visit the Antisana Ecological Reserve, located on the edge of the Amazon prairie making it a corridor or nexus between the Ecological Reserve of Cayambe-Coca and the Sumaco Napo Galeras National Park. It’s approximately 120,000 hectares, are a birdwatchers paradise. Due to its various ecological zones ranging from páramo (an ecosystem devoid of trees and small shrubs where bushes and flowers grow close to the ground) to the lowland rainforest with more than 70 bird species, including the endangered Andean Condor and other Andean birds as the Curiquingue. Admire the snow-capped Antisana Volcano, the fourth highest peak in Ecuador with an altitude of 5,758m (18,890 feet). Take the road that boards the Cayambe – Coca reserve and arrive to the Quijos Valley, one of the westernmost headwaters of the Amazon basin, here you will spend the next 2 days exploring the area. Overnight: San Isidro Lodge Meals: B/L/D
Birds of Northern Ecuador DAY 7: San Isidro – Rio Bermejo Explore the area accompanied by your guide. Cabañas San Isidro is surrounded by its own 1,300 forest reserve, its immediate surroundings now boast a bird list of about 310 species, many of which are more easily found here than anywhere else in the country. San Isidro Lodge is situated at about 2050 meters above sea level, but the trails lead through elevational gradients that pass through habitats from 2,400 meters all the way down to 1,850 meters. What this means to birders is an ideal base to observe Andean birds from the lower reaches of the temperate zone down into the heart of the subtropical zone. Overnight: San Isidro Lodge Meals: B/L/D
Day 8: Guacamayos Cordillera The Guacamayos range rises east of the Cordillera Oriental, this well preserved cloud forest is an important spot for birdwatchers. There are nearly 50 species of tanagers, as well as Gray breasted and Black billed mountain-toucans. Overnight: San Isidro Lodge Meals: B/L/D
Day 9: Guango Lodge – Papallacta. After breakfast, check out San Isidro and continue to Guango lodge located about 1 hour away from San Isidro, lies at a higher elevation (about 2,700 meters) on Ecuador's eastern slope, only 11 kms down the main Interoceanica Highway from the town of Papallacta. This area is centered in a zone classified as humid temperate forest, a habitat distinctly different from San Isidro and characterized by its more stunted trees (and thicker canopy), cooler climate, and different bird and plant composition. Continue your exploration of the area, including Papallacta area. Enjoy lunch at the Papallacta Thermal Spring complex. Time free to enjoy the thermal pools. In the afternoon continue your drive back to Quito. Overnight: Hotel Hilton Colon Meals: B/L/D
Birds of Northern Ecuador Day 10: Departure Transfer to the airport for the flight back home or to your next destination. MEAL CODES: /B/breakfast, /L/lunch, /D/dinner. Note: If you want to keep the program on 9 days/ 8 nights, you can omit current activities at Day #4 (silanche) Extensions recommended for this program 5 or 4 days program into an Amazon Lodge
Birds of Southern Ecuador Altitude Range 15 to 10,000 feet aprox. Travelledarea LowlandForest, MangroveEstuaries. Tumbesianregion, Sub Tropical forest, Paramo Highlights Ecuadorian Mangroves estuaries are home of various birds species.
Tumbesianregionisone of themostdiverseareasonearth.
Subtropical rainforest is one of the most biodiverse areas in the country.
Birds of Southern Ecuador ITINERARY DETAILS Day 1: Guayaquil Arrival in Quito. Meet your guide and be transferred to the hotel. Overnight: Gran Hotel GuayaquilMeals: -/-/-
Day 2: Cerro Blanco – Puerto Hondo. Early breakfast. Briefing and introduction to the program. Depart from the hotel to Cerro Blanco located approximately 20 minutes away from Guayaquil. This reserve is composed of deciduous forest, and it lies between the Tumbesian Endemic Bird Area. You will bird this area for aprox. 4 hours. Picnic lunch. Later you will drive a short distance, (10 min.,) to visit the mangrove estuary of Puerto Hondo, here by paddle canoe you will look for specialties of this ecosystem. Birding time aprox 1 1/2 hours. Drive back to Guayaquil. If time allows, cross the Guayas River by boat to visit Isla Santay to do some river edge birding there. Birding time around 1 1/2 hours. Overnight: Gran Hotel Guayaquil (Note: Cerro Blanco is not open on Monday)Meals: B/L/D
Day 3: Guayaquil – ManglaresChurute -Buenaventura Drive 1 hour from Guayaquil to visit ManglaresChurute reserve, a 49.000 ha reserve containing deciduous, moist lowland forest and mangrove estuaries. Birding time around 3 to 4 hours on three different stops. Continue driving south via Huaquillas for around 1 1/2 hours. Stop at shrimp farm pools to look for sea birds and waders of the area. Continue driving for around 2 1/2 hours towards Buenaventura reserve in the subtropical area of el Oro province. This reserve is located near Piñas and Zaruma. The area is renowned for being one of the ornithological richest and easily accessible sites in Ecuador. It protects a narrow zone of cloud forest habitat on the otherwise seasonally dry west slope of the Andes in Southern Ecuador. Overnight: Buenaventura reserve. Meals: B/L/D
Birds of Southern Ecuador Day 4: Buenaventura Reserve Full day at Buenaventura. This private reserve of 1680 ha. is located between 550 m to 1.100m above sea level. It contains two important ecosystems, lowland tropical rainforest and foothill forest. This reserve is considered the southernmost region of the Choco center of endemism, and has an influence of the dry Tumbesian center as well. Among the important species in this area we have the only Ecuadorian site for El Oro parakeet, as well as a special site for El Oro Tapaculo. Other important birds are: The most reliable leck for Long wattledumbrellabird, Club winged manakin, Song wren, Rufous headed chachalaca and others. Overnight: Buenaventura ReserveMeals: B/L/D Day 5: Zaruma - Jorupe Morning birding at Buenaventura, then drive for aprox 5 hours towards Jorupe reserve near Macará, near the Peruvian border, with birding stops on the way looking for specialties such as Watkins Antpitta, Black cowledsaltator, White tailed jay, White edged oriole and others.Arrive at Jorupe reserve late in the afternoon. Overnight: Jorupereserve.Meals: B/L/D
Day 6: Jorupe Reserve. Jorupe is a private reserve with 1050 ha., and is one of the last surviving dry forests of the southwest of Ecuador, all within the Tumbesian center of endemism. Among specialties here we have Henna hooded foliage gleaner, Rufous necked foliage gleaner, West Peruvian screech owl and others.This day or the following (depending on road conditions) there is an opportunity to visit Utuana reserve, 1 1/2 hours drive.Utuanais a private reserve (250ha) of montane forest, with an influence of Tumbesian transitional forest, located at an elevation of 2650m. above sea level. Some of the specialties here are Black crested tit tyrant, Piura Hemispingus, Gray headed antbird ,Rainbow starfrontlet , Black cowledsaltator among others. Overnight: JorupeReserveMeals: B/L/D
Birds of Southern Ecuador Day 7: Jorupe – Vilcabamba Early morning birding at Jorupe or Utuana, an continue towards Vilcabamba (5 hour drive aprox. including stops) Afternoon birding at Vilcabamba, Overnight: Izhcayluma Meals: B/L/D Day 8: Podocarpus National Park. Podocarpus National Park (Cajanuma). Cajanuma is the highland part of Podocarpus National Park, 45 drive from Vilcabamba. Is located at 2750m above sea level, this part of the park contains cloudforest, elfin forest and paramo, and appears to support the highest number of bird species of any cloudforest-elfin forest-páramoecotone in the world. Some specialties are: Golden plumed parakeet, Bearded guan, Red faced parrot, and Chestnut bellied cotinga and others. In the afternoon, return to Izhcayluma for bird observation in the area or just relax at the hotel. Overnight: Izhcayluma Meals: B/L/D Day 9: Full DayTapichalaca, and road to Valladolid Located in between 1800 to 3100m above sea level , Tapichalaca encompasses humid temperate forest , with a high level of endemism in its flora and fauna. It was here that the recently discovered JocotocoAntpitta was found. Among specialties other than the Jocotocoantpitta we have Bearded Guan, Golden plumed parakeet, White capped tanager, White faced nunbird and others. In the afternoon drive towards Valladolid, (45 min), where we enter the northern part of the Marañon center of endemism, with specialties such as the Marañon thrush, Black faced tanager and others. Overnight: Izhcayluma.Meals: B/L/D
Birds of Southern Ecuador Day 10: Vilcabamba- Loja - Zamora Road- Rio Bombuscaro Early morning birding at Vilcabamba, then drive to Loja, bird the Loja- Zamora road (3 Hours aprox. including birding) Arrive late afternoon at Copalinga lodge near Rio Bombuscaro. Loja - Zamora road is 60 Km. long, and embraces elevations between 1000 to 2800m above sea level, encompassing the eastern foothill and subtropical forests of the Andes Overnight: CopalingaMeals: B/L/D Day 11: Full day Rio Bombuscaro. Rio Bombuscaro is the low limit, of the Podocarpus National Park, and supports lower montane cloud forest rich in mixed species flocks, The bird list of the stands at almost 300 species which contain several threatened species such as the White breasted parakeet and Coppery chested Jacamar. Afternoon birding at Copalinga lodge Overnight: CopalingaMeals: B/L/D Day 12: Zamora – Catamayo - Quito. Bird the Zamora area and the low part of the Zamora - Loja road in the morning, and then drive towards Catamayo (2 1/2 hours) where the Loja airport is, Bird the Catamayo valley and catch your flight back to Quito. At night farewell dinner at the hotel. Note: Afternoon flight from Loja to Quito operates everyday except Saturday. Flight departs from Loja at 5h50PM arrives to Quito at 6h40pm. Overnight: Sheraton / Hotel Quito.Meals: B/L/D
Birds of Southern Ecuador Day 13: Departure. Transfer Hotel-Airport for your flight back home. Notes: Highly recommended to have one day in Quito before the international departure flight in order to avoid any problems due to flight delays from Loja to Quito. Total length of the program 14 days / 13 nights