Ecuador is a small country, yet boasts a whopping 1,632 species of birds, and 133 species of hummingbirds, the most of any country in the world! Whether you’ve been to the tropics five times or this is your first journey, Ecuador’s bird life and breathtaking scenery will leave you wanting more.
Our carefully crafted 10-day tour explores a variety of habitats including: high-elevation grasslands, foggy Andean cloud-forests and the Amazonian influenced foothills just down slope.
Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries on earth, with over 70 different species of endemic birds. Our tour focuses on seeing as many birds as possible, however we combine a moderate pace, excellent accommodations and integrate big picture topics such as sustainable forestry, tropical ecology, and bird migration physiology to provide an unparalleled experience in just 10-days!
Dates: 18 Jan- 28 Jan (10 days)
Price: $3,550 per person/double occupancy
Single supplement: $550.00
Type: Bird watching and Wildlife Viewing
Length: 10 days
Starting city: Quito, Ecuador
Ending city: Quito, Ecuador
Pace: easy to moderate
Physical difficulty: easy to moderate
Focus: Bird Watching and Wildlife viewing
Max group size: 8 + 1 leader + local guide(s)
Ecuador is a paradise for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Boasting a whopping 1632 species of birds, hundreds of orchid species, striking wildlife and a vibrant culture, Ecuador has so much to experience. Throughout our time together we will visit a variety of different and unique habitats as we search for some of the most beautiful birds this special country has to offer.
Today we’ll pick you up from Quito International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre) and transfer you to your comfortable and proximal hotel for the evening.
The official start of our amazing trip begins today at the mystical Yanacocha Reserve. Located in the Northwest Andes, a short drive from Quito, this high elevation cloud forest and paramo habitat will provide chances to take pictures of Scarlet-bellied, Hooded, and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers, Spectacled Redstart, Gray-browed Brush-Finch, Great Sapphirewing, Tyrian Metaltail, Sapphire-vented and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Sword-billed Hummingbird and others. We will spend the morning here and enjoy a delicious lunch with a view.
After lunch we’ll drive about two hours to our next stop at Alambi Hummingbirds Garden in the beautiful Tandayapa Valley. At this locale we’ll have chances to see and photograph a different assemblage of cloud-forest hummingbirds including Green-crowned & Fawn-breasted Brilliants, White-whiskered & Tawny-bellied Hermits, Booted Racket-tail, White-necked Jacobin, Crowned Woodnymph, Purple-throated Woodstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip and Tanagers like Flame-rumped, White-linned, Golden and Blue-gray Tanagers. Following our visit to Alambi we will head back to our near-by lodging to freshen up, have a delicious dinner and get settled in for the night.
Refugio Paz de las Aves is run by the talented and world famous Angel Paz. This former farmer has developed a thriving eco-tourism business capitalizing on his renowned bird-whispering skills. At his reserve we will observe the unique and entertaining behavior of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. We will see if the usually elusive Giant, Moustached, Yellow-Breasted, Ochre-Breasted, and Chestnut- Crowned Antpittas will grace us with an appearance. These special birds often respond by name, and yes one of them is actually named Shakira! If we’re lucky we’ll get to see all five Antpitta species here! Additional birds in this area include; Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Golden-Headed Quetzal, Golden Tanager, and Dark-backed Wood-Quail.
After lunch we’ll head over to the Bellavista area and look for the endemic Tanager Finch, and other specialties like the Toucan Barbet, Plate-Billed Mountain-Toucan, Gorgeted Sunangel, Collared Inca, Green-and-Black Fruiteater, Grass-Green Tanager, Dusky Bush-Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, Plain-Tailed Wren, Striped Treehunter, Rufous-Headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Ocellated Tapaculo, Chestnut-Crowned Antpitta, Rusty-Winged Barbtail, Collared Inca and more!
Today will provide excellent opportunities to see many cloud forest specialties up close and personal, so make sure your camera batteries are charged!
Our first of two stops today will bring us to a special spot! This private residence has two different bird photography blinds where we’ll have great opportunities to view and photograph insect loving birds like Golden-Crowned and Cinnamon Flycatcher, Masked Trogon, Turquoise Jay, Strong-Billed and Montane Woodcreepers, Uniform Antshrike, Slaty-Backed Nigthingale-Thrush, Russet-Crowned and Three-striped Warblers, Slate-Throated Redstart, Yellow-Breasted Antpitta and more. Following this early morning session, we’ll be able to photograph fruit eating birds like Flame-faced, Golden, Blue-capped, Golden-naped, and Black-capped Tanagers, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Dusky Chlorospingus and more. This an excellent location for up-close hummingbird viewing. At this locale we’ll keep our eyes peeled for Buff-winged & Velvet-purple Coronets, Violet-tailed Sylph, Speckled Hummingbird, Empress and Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Booted Racket-tail, Gorgeted Sunangel, Collared Inca and many others. After a productive first half of the day, we’ll drive a short distance to another small private residence set-up for photographing birds and up-close viewing.
Our next and final stop of the day is to the famous feeders of San Tadeo. This private residence was converted to another excellent cloud forest bird viewing and photography site. This efficiently laid out private residence features two different feeder set-ups. The first area features fruit eating birds such as Blue-winged and Black-chinned Mountain-Tanagers, Golden-naped and Black-capped Tanagers, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and Black-striped Sparrow. After we’ve had our fill of electric tanagers and colorful toucanets, we can walk a few minutes to their exciting hummingbird feeder array. Here we can expect to see the dazzling colors of Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown Inca, Empress Brilliant and many other stunning hummingbird species on tap here.
Today we have a full day birding the pacific lowlands with visits two different sites. We will look for Blue-tailed and White-tailed Trogons, Olivaceous Piculet, Red-rumped, Cinnamon and Black-checked Woodpeckers, Tawny-crested, Scarlet-and-white, Rufous-winged and Blue-whiskered Tanagers, Scarlet-thighed and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Squirrel and Little Cuckoos, Black Vulture, Choco Toucan, Masked Tityra and many more birds. After lunch we’ll head over to Milpe Bird Sanctuary where Chestnut-mandibled and Choco Toucans, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Green Honeycreeper, Green-crowned Brilliant, and Green Thorntail can be seen and photographed. Here we will also talk about the reforestation and conservation efforts undertaken by the project managers right here in the pacific lowlands.
Today our journey begins along an easy dirt road that passes through verdant cloud forest, loaded with some absolutely superb Chocó endemics not easily see elsewhere. Species possible here include Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Moss-backed Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, and Buffy Tuftedcheek. With luck, this area could also produce Uniform Treehunter, Black Solitaire and Esmeraldas Antbird. Other targets in the Mashpi area include Ochre-breasted and Rufous-throated Tanagers, Red-faced Spinetail, Scaly-throated, Buff-fronted and Lineated Foliage-gleaners, Choco Warbler, Slaty Antwren, Tawny-breasted Flycatcher, and Cinnamon Becard. In the afternoon we’ll move to the Chontal area where we can photograph the unusual Oilbird.
Today begins at prompt hour of 6:00 am. Why are we starting so early? It is of course to arrive in time to view the massive Andean Condors taking flight from their roosting sites. At this hotspot, we will also look for highland specialists including Black-faced Ibis, Carunculated Caracara, Andean Gull, Giant Hummingbird, Andean Lapwing, Tawny Antpitta, Many-striped Canastero, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Ecuadorian Hillstar, and many more. In the afternoon depending on the weather, we’ll explore Papallacta Pass in search of Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill and more.
This beautiful Paramo habitat is composed of sweeping grass-land landscapes, ponds, and short shrubs, making for relatively easy bird watching opportunities. The absolutely breathtaking scenery of Antisana and Papallacta are unlike anything we’ve seen on the trip, so get excited!
Just down slope from Papallacta Pass we will spend the day exploring the beautiful trails at Guango Lodge. Here tumbling mountain rivers, lush cloud-forest and paramo habitat provide excellent opportunities to look for; Sword-billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Long-tailed Sylph, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Rufous Antpitta, Torrent Duck, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Andean Potoo, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Beryl-spangled Tanager, and many more birds from this montane subtropical cloud forest. This unique lodge has a quaint European wood-cabin feel with good coffee and great birds!
Today we’ll send the first part of the day looking for birds on the scenic Oyacachi Road in search of Masked Mountain-Tanager, Black-backed Bush-Tanager, Giant Conebill, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Agile Tit-Tyrant. In the afternoon we’ll continue our exploration of the eastern slope of the Andes, filled with new species for our trip. We will then make our way to the San Isidro area with a stop near Baeza in search of Sunbittern, Olivaceous Siskin, Fasciated Tiger-Heron and other great birds from this special area.
Today we’ll continue exploring more excellent East Andean bird-watching destinations. At the Cabañas San Isidro trails we’ll spend the morning searching for birds around the lodge such as; Inca Jay, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Black-billed Peppershrike, Mountain Wren, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager. After lunch, we’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the easily accessible trails of the lodge and Las Caucheras road looking for Emerald Toucanet, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Saffron-headed Tanager, White-caped Tanager, Golden-headed Quetzal, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet and many more wonderful birds that join feeding mixed flocks. After dinner we will strap on our headlamps and look for the famous San Isidro Owl!
The first part of the morning we will be spent birding San Isidro where a White-bellied Antpitta is fed every morning. Following this unique opportunity to observe a usually quite reclusive bird, we will look for Crested Quetzal, White-capped Tanager, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Black-chested Fruiteater, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Saffron-crowned Tanager and Bronzy Inca. From here we’ll move to the famous Guacamayos ridge where we will be on the lookout for Greater Scythebill, Peruvian Antpitta, Barred Antthursh, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Dusky Piha, Powerful Woodpecker and more.
After our last full day of bird watching in fabulous Ecuador, we will load back into our vehicle and make our way back to Quito for airport/hotel drops-off, and goodbyes to all our new friends!
Our top-notch local guide is a prolific bird watcher, readily able locate thehighly diverse Ecuadorian bird life by sight and sound. He brings a wide array of knowledge about the environment and is a highly-skilled naturalist. His patience, humility and comprehensive knowledge of the natural world will definitely enrich your experience.
With luck we should see many endemic species and several of the most charismatic residents including Andean Cock-of the Rock, Toucan Barbet, Plate Billed Mountain Toucan, Andean Condor, and the Giant Hummingbird. Expect to have your mind blown when you see the Velvet-purple Coronet and Violet-tailed Sylph!
Nelson Apolo lives and works full time in his native Ecuador with his loving wife and young daughter. Apolo has quickly become a pre-eminent bird and wildlife guide in Ecuador. He holds a National Tourism Guide Certification and 9 years guiding for high-end ecolodges like Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve and Tandayapa Bird Lodge. With his extensive experience and interests, Apolo consistently delivers high-caliber bird watching trips throughout Ecuador.
He has been actively watching birds since 2009, and has been guiding professionally since 2012.
Nelson has a heart of gold and genuinely loves sharing his passion for the birds of Ecuador with his clients. He is patient, dedicated and most of all humble. We love working with Nelson and know you will too!
He has currently seen 1263 species in his country and hopes to see more!