Overview

Our new Chocó Specialities birding tour completes our tour coverage of this incredibly diverse country. Long ignored and historically tricky to reach, the lowland Chocó forests of Northwest Ecuador and the coastal littoral now make for a very appealing tour. The Chocó is an eco-region and biodiversity hotspot that holds the largest number of restricted-range birds of any Endemic Bird Area in the Americas, with 62 species being endemic to the area. Habitats are typically characterised by tropical humid lowland forests and wet cloud-forests. Unfortunately, the Chocó region is also one of the most threatened areas in South America. Deforestation rates are accelerating and habitat destruction has been most severe in the lowlands, especially the coastal plains and foothills. Departing Quito we are introduced to the Andean region of the Chocó with a bevy of normally difficult species including Moss-backed Tanager, the Indigo Flowerpiercer, Beautiful Jay, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Chocó Vireo, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Black Solitaire, Star-chested Treerunner, and Purplish-mantled and Glistening-green Tanagers. We also make a chance to see a few enigmatic antpitta species like Giant Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta and Moustached Antpitta. As we move into the Chocó lowlands, we target Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Brown Wood-Rail, Banded Ground Cuckoo (if it is showing), Ocellated and Stub-tailed Antbirds, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, and Scarlet-and-white, Blue-whiskered and Lemon-spectacled Tanagers. Five-colored Barbet, Black-tipped Cotinga, Lita and Chocó Woodpeckers, Yellow-green Bush and Golden-chested Tanagers provide the supporting cast to the drab but monotypic Sapayoa and the exceedingly tricky Rufous-crowned Antpitta.

2023 Tour price is an estimate and will change. Tour dates could be adjusted.

Tour Facts Top Birds
Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Baudo Guan, Brown Wood Rail, Ecuadorian Rail, Dark-backed Wood Quail, Berlepsch's Tinamou, Pinnated Bittern, Roseate Spoonbill, Red-lored Amazon, Rose-faced Parrot, Chocó Trogon, Five-colored, Orange-fronted & Toucan Barbet, Black-breasted & Barred Puffbird, Plate-billed Mountain-toucan, Black-tipped & Blue Cotinga, Red-capped Manakin, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Guayaquil, Lita & Chocó Woodpecker, Ochraceous Attila, Jet, Spotted, Esmeralda’s, Ocellated & Stub-tailed Antbird, Giant Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Moustached Antpitta, Streak-chested Antpitta, Sapayoa, Chocó Poorwill, Chocó Screech-owl, Cloud-forest Pygmy-owl, Beautiful Jay, Chocó Vireo, Short-tailed Woodstar, Humboldt Sapphire, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Velvet-purple Coronet, Brown Inca, Violet-tailed Sylph, Hoary Puffleg, Empress Brilliant, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Star-chested Treerunner, Black Solitaire, Dagua Thrush, Stripe-throated Wren, Chocó & Nariño Tapaculo, Subtropical Doradito, Pacific Flatbill, Rufous Mourner, Rufous Piha, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Moss-backed & Golden-chested Tanager, Yellow-green Bush Tanager, Purplish-mantled, White-winged, Scarlet-and-white, Blue-whiskered, Lemon-spectacled, Glistening-green & Gray-and-gold Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, and chances for Banded Ground Cuckoo & Rufous-crowned Gnatpitta (both very rare)
Top Mammals
Brown-headed Spider-monkey, Mantled Howler
Habitats Covered
Chocó tropical lowland forest, Chocó cloud-forest, Tumbesian dry forest, highland lakes
Expected Climate
warm to hot and humid
Max Group Size
8 with 1 Rockjumper leader & local birding leader
Tour Pace & Walking
This Ecuador tour requires a HIGH level of fitness, and participants should be in VERY GOOD physical and general health as most of the birding will be done on foot, and may require walking for several hours at a time, often on muddy and sometimes steep trails. The tour is not suitable for anyone with physical or mobility limitations. Our Mega tours are very fast-paced birding adventures designed for the dedicated lister and serious birder. The focus of the tour is to see as many of the endemics and area specials as possible in our given time. In order to cover the necessary route to maximise the species list we tend to spend a single night at most sites and travel large distances. There is very little down time aside from that spent driving from one site to the next. These tours are not suitable for dedicated or avid photographers; inexperienced or new birders; as well as anyone with serious mobility or health challenges.
Accommodation
basic to comfortable lodges
Ease of Birding
moderate birding with some tricky species
Number of Species Expected
400+
Photographic Opportunities
can be difficult inside humid forest but excellent in other habitats
Tour Route Map Route Map Client Testimonials

"This tour was great and Dusan was fabulous, an incredible birder, guide and person. I don't need to say more because I'm sure you've heard many accolades about him. It was a great tour though harder than I expected but I'm old and age makes a difference. I definitely would go again with Dusan. There was a disparity of physical abilities among the clients and Dusan handled the situation very well, taking care of the one person who could do the least physically and I think keeping her happy under the circumstances. This really speaks to his people skills. The three of us who were the weakest physically were the oldest. I was elated because I saw the oil birds and Sapayoa(s!!) and why I signed up not even considering the difficulty of canopy birding and what hilly jungle trails entailed. I'm so glad I went and would have hated being dissuaded. So thank you..."

[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.

An excellent tour with an excellent guide. Dušan's knowledge of all the vocalizations is exceptional and he made sure I saw almost all the birds the group managed to see.

I have just finished a very successful snipe day with Dusan. I got all three species I was after, which was a result of some excellent guiding by Dušan Brinkhuizen. I cannot commend him highly enough. He can fill you in on the detail but looking for an Andean Snipe in the rain and cold wind at 4300m takes some effort!  I will certainly need my rest day tomorrow.

Dušan is an excellent field ornithologist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of bird song, taxonomy, and field identification marks. Ornithology is Dušan’s passion. He is also excellent with the clients – friendly, courteous, patient, and anxious that everyone sees all the birds and enjoys the tour. It was a great tour!

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2022 DEPARTURES
2023 DEPARTURES
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