I really enjoyed this trip, it’s probably the best one I’ve been on! I loved the knowledge and personalities of both our guides, Andrés Trujillo & Dušan Brinkhuizen, as well as the naturalist guides and the boat crews.
Northern Ecuador – 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, 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.
Northern Ecuador – Eastern Andes: Paramo and Cloud Forest tour is a great introduction to birding the mighty Andes of South America. We will be exploring the vast east slope for local specialities, and will visit a wide array of fascinating habitats and elevations. Travelling from snow-capped volcanoes down to pristine cloud forests will be not only an incredible experience, but will also offer superb birding and scenery every day!
Stunning species that we will be searching for include Andean Condor, Carunculated Caracara, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Giant Hummingbird, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Torrent Duck, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Inca Jay, White-bellied Antpitta, the San Isidro “mystery” Owl, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals and Masked Trogon, to mention a few! Rare species that we will also be searching for include Black-faced Ibis, Andean Potoo, Red-rumped Bush Tyrant, Greater Scythebill, Bicolored Antvireo, Peruvian and Crescent-faced Antpittas, White-capped Tanager and Masked Mountain Tanager. A great network of birding reserves, together with good infrastructure, unsurpassable scenery, fine dining and friendly people make the eastern Andes of Ecuador another key destination on the world birding circuit.
Northern Ecuador – Ultimate Amazon: Sumaco Foothills & Rio Napo tour covers the tropical foothills of the eastern Andes, and taken together with the lowlands of the Amazon basin, boast an incredibly high biodiversity and are arguably the most species-rich regions of the world. The Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary bird list alone surpasses 500 species, while the number of bird species recorded at Sani Lodge is fast approaching 600! The tour will focus on finding as many species and local specialities as possible by visiting multiple micro-habitats within the Upper Amazonian biome. Although the list of possible birds is immense, some of the more interesting species that we have good chances of seeing include: Harpy Eagle, Hoatzin, Zigzag and Agami Herons, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Sungrebe, Scarlet, Blue-and-yellow, Chestnut-fronted and Red-bellied Macaws, Gould’s Jewelfront, Wire-crested Thorntail, Great and Long-tailed Potoos, White-throated, Black-mandibled and Channel-billed Toucans, Many-banded and Ivory-billed Aracaris, American Pygmy and Green-and-rufous Kingfishers, Gilded and Scarlet-crowned Barbets, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Cinnamon Attila, Grey-tailed Piha, Screaming Piha, Golden-headed and Orange-crowned Manakins, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Black-necked Red Cotinga Spangled Cotinga and dozens of antbird species!
Southern Ecuador – Pacific Coast Extension to Southern Ecuador takes us along Ecuador’s Pacific shores visiting Isla de la Plata for spectacular encounters with both Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, possibly also Red-footed Booby, many Magnificent Frigatebirds, the odd Humpback Whale and Red-billed Tropicbird before completing our journey searching for the Endangered endemic Esmeralda’s Woodstar, Grey-and-white Tyrannulet, Necklaced Spinetail, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Collared Warbling Finch, Sulphur-throated Finch, Red-lored Amazon, Roseate Spoonbill, Chilean Flamingo and the smallest bird in South America, the Short-tailed Woodstar.
Our Southern Ecuador – Endemics tour covers an area supporting one of the most diverse habitat ranges in the world. Within 200 miles of the Pacific Coast, one can travel from the arid xerophytic habitat, through chocó and semi-deciduous tropical forest, over the continental divide’s treeless paramos and down to lush, wet, foothill forests of the eastern Andes. Within these varied, pristine habitats, the evolution of many fine endemic species has occurred; and on our comprehensive South Ecuador Endemics tour, we will sample seven distinct habitats in search of these endemics and other specialties. Targets include El Oro and White-breasted Parakeets, El Oro Tapaculo, Watkins’s and the fantastic Jocotoco Antpitta, White-headed Brushfinch, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, Elegant Crescentchest, White-tailed Jay, the fabulous Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Rainbow Starfrontlet, the vociferous, colourful and extremely localized Orange-throated Tanager – and much more besides!
Southern Ecuador – Shiripuno Amazon Adventure takes us to another very remote Ecuadorian location – the little-visited Shiripuno Lodge situated in hilly, upper Amazonia. Boasting a bird list of over 450 species within walking distance of the lodge itself, it’s no wonder that this humble, research-orientated venture has caught our attention. This tour offers prime Amazon birding with targets including Nocturnal Curassow, Rufous and Long-tailed Potoo, Ringed Woodpecker, Black-necked Red Cotinga, Black Bushbird, Lunulated, Hairy-crested and Wing-banded Antbird, and Rio Suno and Yasuni Antwrens. To reach our destination, we will travel down the mild-flowing Shiripuno River, where Jaguar, Brazilian Tapir and anacondas are regularly encountered, along with Fiery Topaz, Brown Jacamar and other riverside specialists.
By the end of our stay at Shiripuno, we will all know much more about the rainforest and the fabulous Huaorani people. The warm hospitality, good food and unique location supply an amazing experience to share with our loved ones upon our return. Join us for this one-of-a-kind tour into the true wilds of the Ecuadorian Amazon!
Western Ecuador – Choco Specialities tour covers the Chocó eco-region, a biodiversity hotspot that ranges from the Pacific coast of Colombia south to Ecuador. It supports the largest number of restricted-range birds of any Endemic Bird Area in the Americas, with 62 unique species. This tour has been carefully designed to target as many Chocó endemics as possible, including the tricky lowland species. We will venture into the vast jungle of Playa de Oro and Rio Canandé, where Black-headed Spider Monkeys, and even Jaguars, still persist. Sadly, these sites are also the final accessible lowland sites in Ecuador. Deforestation rates are accelerating and habitat destruction has been severe with African oil-palm plantation taking a heavy toll. We will travel from Andes to coast visiting a number of reserves and thereby directly supporting the conservation of this critically threatened region. The tour is very diverse and covers many different habitats and elevations.