This is a Private Tour
14 days from £4,614 / $5,537 (Single Supplement £367 / $440) Amazon extension 5-days from £1,708 / $2,049
A birding journey starting in Quito and driving west through the Andes, to the birding paradise of Mindo. Spend three full days exploring the region, spotting hummingbirds, antpittas, umbrellabirds and the inimitable cock-of-the rock. Travel back to the highlands. Visit the volcano of Antisana and see condors. Then head to the eastern lowlands for sub-tropical species and the headwaters of the Amazon.
Bilingual naturalist guide (specialized in birdwatching)
Accommodation based on double room
Meals as described on the itinerary
Entrance fees to reserves
Tips and personal expenses
Explore Mindo Ecuador’s biodiversity hotspot
Get up close to hummingbirds and antpittas
Watch the iconic cock-of-the-rock and umbrellabirds
High Andes species like condors
Tropical toucans and parrots
To book this tour or start creating your own tailor made itinerary call us on: 0207 407 1478 (UK) or contact us.
14-days from £4,614 / $5,537 (Single Supplement £367 / $440)
Amazon extension 5-days from £1,708 / $2,049 (Single Supplement £777 / $932)
Day 1: Quito – Arrive Quito / Hotel Ikala
Day 2: Mindo – Cross the western Andes to Mindo / Sachatamia lodge
Day 3: Mindo – Vist Mashpi Amagusa reserve & Los Tayos / Sachatamia lodge
Day 4: Mindo – Milpe reserve & umbrellabirds / Sachatamia lodge
Day 5: Mindo – Rio Silanche tropical lowlands& San Tadeo / Sachatamia lodge
Day 6: Quito – Paz de las Aves refuge then to Quito / San José de Puembo
Day 7: Guango – Visit the paramo of Antisana volcano / Guango lodge
Day 8: San Isidro – Cross the eastern slopes of the Andes / San Isidro lodge
Day 9: San Isidro – Visit eastern cloud forest / San Isidro lodge
Day 10: San Isidro – Visit eastern cloud forest / San Isidro lodge
Day 11: Wildsumaco – Take the Loreto road southeast / Wildsumaco
Day 12: Wildsumaco – Explore the south eastern foothills / Wildsumaco
Day 13: Quito – Travel back up the Andes to Quito / San José de Puembo
Day 14: Flight – Transfer to the airport for flight home
Amazon Extension to Napo Wildlife Centre
Day 14: Coca – Napo – Transfer to Coca, canoe to lodge / Napo Wildlife Centre
Day 15: Napo – Explore Yasuni National Park / Napo Wildlife Centre
Day 16: Napo – Explore Yasuni National Park / Napo Wildlife Centre
Day 17: Napo – Transfer to Coca, fly to Quito / San Jose de Puembo
Day 18: Flight – Transfer to airport, fly home.
THE LONG ITINERARY
Day 1: Quito – Ecuador
On your arrival to Ecuador our guide will be waiting for you to meet and transfer you to your hotel to overnight.
Day 2: Tandayapa – Mindo
Early departure to the northwest of Quito crossing the western slopes of the Andes range heading towards Tandayapa valley. On route visit Yanacocha reserve a high-altitude cloud forest. The reserve protects Polylepis Forest, home to many bird species like the famous Black-breasted Puffleg, sword billed hummingbird, great saphirewing, purple backed thornbill, rufous antpitta, barred fruiteater. Continue down the valley and see other species such as bar bellied woodpecker, masked flowerpiercer, glossy flowerpiercer, shinning sunbeam, great saphirewing, barred fruiteater, hooded and scarlet-bellied mountain-tanagers, giant conebill, pearled treerunner.
Day 3: Mindo – Mashpi Area
After breakfast drive you to Mashpi – Amagusa Reserve, this cloud forest is rich in plants from ferns and bromeliads to myriad orchids. A staggering 500 species of birds (including some 36 endemics) as well as small mammals. It is famous for its impressive collection of Choco endemic bird species. Depart to El Chontal to look for the famous Los Tayos Cave, a deep, dark ravine where home to mysterious Oilbirds Steatornis caripensis; en-route enjoy a picnic lunch. Late afternoon return to Sachatamia Lodge.
Day 4: Mindo – Milpe Reserve
Early in the morning you will depart to Los Bancos to spot for the incredible Umbrella bird. Arrive at Luis Agila’s property where it is possible to find this vulnerable species. It’s an amazing experience when you suddenly see a group of Umbrella birds flying from one tree to another looking for insects or fruit. With luck, see the long wattle of a male getting inflated, it’s something unique.
Visit to Milpe Bird Sanctuary, an important bird area, of 62 hectares (155 acres). The altitude ranges from 1020-1150m (3350-3770 ft) and includes two small rivers and forested valley. Many local birders consider to be one of the finest sites in all of Ecuador. Here 247 species are found including many Choco endemic species: plumbeous forest-falcon, moss-backed tanager, glistening-green tanager, chocó trogon, choco 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. Return to Sachatamia Lodge.
Day 5: Silanche – San Tadeo
Head to Rio Silanche a tropical lowland reserve of with incredible species diversity. The observation tower gives an eye-to-eye view of mixed flocks. This site is in the foothills at 300-350m, one of the last remaining accessible forest remnants found in this key area. It is 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 face parrot, blue headed parrot, marron tailed parakeet, white bearded manakin, scarlet thighed dacnis, chestnut mandibled toucan, black headed tody flycatcher, slaty capped shrike-vireo, among many others. Enjoy of a picnic lunch surrounded by amazing nature.
Next stop at Mirador del Río Blanco, a place that offers an incredible view of the valley and where you can find different species of tanagers and some hummingbirds such as the tiny green thorn tail and the beautiful green-crowned brilliant. Then arrive to San Tadeo where a local family set up a hide with multiple feeders, get amazing photos of different tanagers, toucanets, barbets. Return to Sachatamia. (B/L/D)
Day 6: The Cock of the Rock
Early in the morning, after a coffee, visit the famous Paz de las Aves Refuge with the cock of the rock lek. During the breeding season, the males create a unique sound and fly like acrobats to impress a female to mate. Other specialties in the reserve are four species of antpittas, the giant antpitta, the mustached antpitta, ochre bellied, and the yellow breasted antpitta. Visit the feeding station to see black chinned and blue winged mountain tanagers, toucan barbet, dusky piha, sickle winged guan, crimsom-rumped toucanet, etc.
Return to the main house for a typical breakfast and find an ocellated tapaculo being fed with worms, yellow vented woodpecker, powerful woodpecker, crimson mantled woodpecker, orange breasted fruiteater etc. Then return to Sachatamia Lodge for lunch and in the afternoon, return to Quito. Stay at San José de Puembo, in a sunny valley. The hotel is established in a restored colonial building, which dates to the 18th Century. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Antisana – Guango
Travel to Antisana Ecological Reserve, high in the Andes. At the Mica Lake observe silvery grebe, andean teal, andean ruddy duck, yellow-billed pintail, andean coot, and as well as many land birds such as aplomado falcon, Andean gull, Andean lapwing and carunculated caracara. There is a good chance to see the majestic Andean condor and other species like black-chested buzzard-eagle and variable hawk, black faced ibis, paramo ground tyrant, paramo pipit, sedge wren, Bairds sandpiper, cinereous harrier, bar-winged and stout-billed cinclodes, black-faced ibis, shining sunbeam, red- rumped bush-tyrant, paramo pipit, giant conebill, and spectacled whitestart.
Depart 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 4000m high paramo species like the 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. Guango Lodge lies at a higher elevation of about 2,700m on the eastern slope. This area is humid temperate forest, with stunted trees, cooler climate. Stay at Guango Lodge.
Day 8: Papallacta – San Isidro
Early hike looking for species like Andean guan, plushcap, slaty finch, gray breasted mountain toucan, pale-naped brush finch, gray hooded bush tanager, hooded mountain tanager, pearl tree runner, mountain avocet bill, tourmaline sun angel, torrent duck, white capped dipper etc. After lunch continue to San Isidro Lodge to 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 ant thrush and the little-known Peruvian antpitta. In the afternoon discover more bird species. After dinner we will have a nocturnal walk looking for nightjars and owls. San Isidro Lodge lies at about 2,000m (6,800 ft.) in a zone still mostly blanketed by extensive humid forest. This means agreeable temperatures, exciting birds, and a diversity of wildlife.
Days 9 & 10: San Isidro Lodge
Enjoy two days at San Isidro lodge and its surroundings, some of the species include: montane and olive-backed woodcreepers, golden-crowned flycatcher, rufous-crowned tody-flycatcher, black-billed peppershrike, Inca jay, bluish flower piercer and subtropical cacique. Plus, antpitta feeders, where you will likely see white-bellied antpitta only feet away, and maybe even the very rare Peruvian antpitta. Others include the black-chested fruiteater, long-tailed antbird, white belied antpitta, San Isidro’s owl, chestnut breasted coronet, long tailed sylph, barred ant thrush and others. At dusk you can try to spot near the lodge night birds like the Andean potoo, rufous-bellied nighthawk (almost every dawn and dusk around the cottages) and rufous-banded and mottled owls. (B/L/D)
Day 11: Wildsumaco
Depart to Wildsumaco Lodge, via the Loreto-Coca Road, 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. Then you will 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, 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 visit the Cordillera de Los Huacamayos and walk through one of the specialized birdwatching trails. Here it is possible to see many different species and look for the black-billed mountain-toucan, white-bellied antpitta, Spillmans tapaculo, bicoloured antvireo, greater scythebill and the very local white-rimmed brush-finch among others. Late afternoon you will arrive at Wildsumaco lodge. The lodge is a comfortable place with ten rooms, each with private bathroom with hot and cold water. There are nice social areas, a restaurant, bar, and a cozy porch from where you can admire the birds and the magnificent view.
Day 12: Wildsumaco
Wildsumaco lodge is located between the Andean Foothills and the Amazon, Sumaco holds one of the richest avifauna in the world. A wonderful mix of cloud forest species, foothill and typically Amazonian birds. Plus, 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. The short-tailed ant thrush and wing-banded wren often sing, while more uncommon species like gray-throated leaftosser and plain-backed antpitta are seen occasionally. The very rare yellow-throated spadebill has a territory along the piha trail and the endangered military macaw or rare spot-winged parrotlet might fly by, or black hawk-eagle soar overhead.
Day 13: Quito
Take a last opportunity to enjoy of this amazing place, then you will return to Quito, 4 hours by car, possible stop on the way to search for orange breasted falcon and cliff flycatcher. Picnic lunch on route and late afternoon arrive to the hotel located close to the Quito’s airport for dinner and stay overnight. San José de Puembo.
Day 14: Flight home
After a long list of birds on this unforgettable expedition in Ecuador you will be transferred to the airport to catch your international flight home.
Amazon Extension to Napo Wildlife Centre
Day 14: Coca – Napo Wildlife Centre
Travel by road to Coca city located in the Amazon Basin near the Napo River at only 250 m.a.s.l (820 feet). Start your trip in the Amazon, embark on a comfortable covered motorized canoe to travel along Río Napo. Travel for approximately 3 hours to reach a creek. Change to a paddle dugout canoe. Navigate through the tree-lined creek to the beautiful lagoon of Añangu. On the way spot monkeys and birds like toucans, parrots, and macaws. Welcome drink at the lodge and briefing on the next day’s activities. (B/L/D)
Day 15: Napo Wildlife Centre
Early wake up to reach the easiest access parrot clay licks in Ecuador. Travel about 1 hour away from the lodge, arrive there just before parrot activity kicks off at the clay lick between 7:30 to 8:30. A total of 11 species of parrots, parakeets and macaws can be seen from the hides. Species include mealy, blue-headed, yellow-crowned parrots, cobalt winged, dusky-headed parakeets, orange cheeked parrot and scarlet macaws.
Later, hike along forest trail to visit the indigenous community of Añangu and spend time with a family. Return to the creek and hike through a Terra Firme Forest for about 30 minutes until arrive at the second parrot clay lick. Here, depending on the weather conditions, find different species of parrots, parakeets and even macaws.
Lunch at Napo Cultural Centre, where you share with people of the kichwa community. Then your guide will paddle back to the lodge, where you arrive at late afternoon with a delicious dinner waiting for you. (B/L/D)
Day 16: Napo Wildlife Centre
After early breakfast, we leave the lodge to experience an amazing view of the rainforest from a 36m tall canopy tower, a great way to see the life above the ground of the forest. Napo Wildlife Centre has two towers (the first is above the dining hall with great views of the lake). The second tower is 30 minutes’ walk from the lodge, deep within the forest. Climbing the 12-floor tower, you pass through different levels of the forest and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree.
Up here in the canopy, you get a true birds-eye view. The galvanized metal tower itself is carefully inspected by engineers. Safety is the priority. Flocks of colourful tanagers pass by, blue-and yellow macaws reside nearby. Spider monkeys search for fruit, toucans call in the early mornings and afternoons. Birds that are virtually impossible to see from the forest floor far below are suddenly beside you, oblivious to your presence.
Lunch served at the lodge. Afternoon visit a terra firme trail, hike along primary forest. There are good chances of finding lizards, colourful manakins or the unique and endemic Golden mantled tamarin monkeys. After the hike, explore the lake and creeks by dugout canoe, maybe running into a giant otter family.
Añangu is not only home to a great lodge, it is also the ancestral territory of a Quichua indigenous community of the same name. Añangu people are active participants in the conservation and management of a large territory within the Yasuni park and pioneers in tourism.
Day 17: Napo – to Quito
Early departure and last excursion canoeing back to the Napo River, the creek may reveal giant otters, monk saki monkeys or rare birds. Transfer to the motorized canoe to return to Coca. Check-in for Coca – Quito flight. Once in Quito, you will be transferred to a hotel in the historic Centre (or a country Inn).
Day 18: Flight home
- All itineraries are subject to change based on local conditions, weather and logistics
- A special birding itinerary at Napo can be provided upon request, led by a bilingual birding guide.
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