Our classic Choco Cloud Forest tour covers all the important birding sites found north-west of the capital city of Quito. This area is part of the Chocó bioregion that hosts a great number of endemics and specialities that are only shared with neighbouring areas of Colombia to the north. We will be based in the Tandayapa and Mindo valleys from where we will set out to bird the various renowned private reserves, affording us an outstanding opportunity to support local conservation projects for long-term habitat protection. A wide array of habitats will be birded, starting with the mystical elfin forest of the temperate zone, followed by bird-rich subtropical cloud forests. We will also venture deeper into tropical foothill forests to reach the mega-diverse lowlands. Iconic species that we will be searching for include Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Giant Antpitta, Plate-billed Mountain and Chocó Toucans, Toucan Barbet, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Club-winged Manakin, Glistening-green Tanager, Orange-breasted and Scaled Fruiteaters and Velvet-purple Coronet, to mention but a few. In case rarities such as Banded Ground Cuckoo or Rufous-crowned Antpitta show up in the area, we will do our very best to fit in a twitch. A great network of birding reserves together with excellent infrastructure, unsurpassable scenery and friendly people make the Northwest of Ecuador one of the planet’s most delightful birding destinations.
Dark-backed Wood Quail; Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove; Pacific Parrotlet; Rose-faced Parrot; Cloud-forest Pygmy Owl; Sword-billed & Purple-chested Hummingbird; Golden-breasted Puffleg; Purple-bibbed Whitetip; Empress Brilliant; Brown Inca; Velvet-purple Coronet; White-booted Racket-tail; Violet-tailed Sylph; Golden-headed Quetzal; Chocó Trogon; Barred Puffbird; White-whiskered Puffbird; White-faced Nunbird; Orange-fronted & Toucan Barbets; Pale-mandibled Aracari; Plate-billed Mountain & Chocó Toucans; Olivaceous Piculet; Cinnamon & Guayaquil Woodpeckers; Pacific Tuftedcheek; Black-crowned Antshrike; Checker-throated & Pacific Antwrens; Chestnut-backed Antbird; Black-headed & Rufous-breasted Antthrushes; Giant, Moustached, Yellow-breasted & Ochre-breasted Antpittas; Nariño & Ocellated Tapaculos; Chocó Tyrannulet; Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant; Andean Cock-of-the-rock; Orange-breasted & Scaled Fruiteaters; Golden-winged, White-bearded & Club-winged Manakins; Beautiful Jay; Black Solitaire; White-capped Dipper; Chocó Warbler; Yellow-tufted, Scarlet-thighed & Scarlet-breasted Dacnises; Indigo Flowerpiercer; Yellow-collared Chlorophonia; Glistening-green, Moss-backed, Grey-and-gold, Rufous-throated, Blue-whiskered, Black-chinned Mountain, Scarlet-browed & Ochre-breasted Tanagers.
Olingito; Tayra; White-fronted Capuchin; Spectacled Bear (rare)
temperate tree line forest, subtropical cloud-forest, tropical foothill forest and tropical lowland forest all in the Chocó bioregion
chilly to hot and humid (very pleasant temperatures on most days)
8 with 1 Rockjumper leader & local birding leader
easy birding with some tricky skulkers
300 - 350
excellent at sites with feeders
[To Dušan Brinkhuizen] Truly, it was the very best birding trip I have ever been on, including several other Rockjumper trips which have all been great. As I think back on it, I can only marvel at your amazing ability to hear and identify the "chips" and "tsits" of birds calling or singing from deep in the understorey or high in the canopy of mature cloud forest while walking with a noisy group of folks or, even more unbelievable, from a moving vehicle. And if this wasn't amazing enough, you would then expertly call the desired individual bird into view and, with incredible calm and patience, succeed in making sure that everyone of us on the tour got a crippling look (and maybe even a spectacular photo) of the target bird -- that as often as not -- was not only beautiful but also both rare and furtive. And to further blow our minds, you often would pull out your vegetation clippers and create a setting and stage on which the bird would perform for us -- even sometimes, like some magician, telling us on which perch it would sit!! As a measure of your expertise as a trip leader, let me tell you that on the two back-to-back trips with you I "got" 110 life birds (101 seen and 9 heard) and only missed 1 species that would have been a life bird for me (Blue-mantled Thornbill). Never on any trip before in my life had I experienced such a high rate of success!! But above and beyond all of the uncanny skill and expertise that you exhibited, was the kindness, friendship, and humanity that you showed to each us. For this I am so very grateful. Thank you!!! Moreover, I'm sure everyone on the trip felt this way and I'm sure it created a safe and happy feeling among all of us that made the trip even more enjoyable. I truly hope that I can go with you on another trip sometime. And finally thank you also for the wonderfully detailed and beautifully illustrated trip report you sent. I remain amazed at how you could remember so clearly all the details of the trip.
We really enjoyed the tour. Lev did a great job. We will look forward to booking again
Dušan Brinkhuizen is a fantastic guide! He is incredibly talented as a birder but equally important, he is very patient and he managed our group perfectly. We had a great time together based on his leadership. He is an asset to Rockjumper.
"Really very positive indeed. I really liked Dusan, and there was no question he was an astonishing birder. I'd love to do another tour with him."
We were so fortunate to be able to experience the top notch birding skills of Dušan. He is very professional but also so personable. It is a tricky thing to manage many different personalities and keep everyone happy but Dusan made our trip so enjoyable.
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