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Birdwatching in the Andes - 9 Nights Itinerary

Considered by the world’s leading ornithologists as one of the most highly diverse countries in terms of bird species, Ecuador has officially registered more than 1,600 endemic and exotic species - and the list keeps growing!

This is why our tours appeal to bird-watching aficionados and experts alike - people who journey to this marvelous country to see recorded species ...and who might just discover a new one!

When most people think of a South American birding experience, they think of condors circling a high mountain pass, throngs of hummingbirds buzzing on the steep Andean slopes, or dry wastelands full of jays, foliage gleaners and finches. Then there's the Amazon: the name itself evokes images of hoatzins on an ox-bow lake; ant swarms attended by antbirds, antthrushes, small flycatchers and ground-cuckoos. The beauty is that all of the images — as numerous as they are — can be found in this compact country that's not much larger than Britain or the US state of Colorado.

 

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Testimonials

“The Samba cruise anyway was great, good boat, good food, amazing guide and friendly staff.”Federica Novellini

Highlights
Cloud Forest, more than 400 species of birds, Andean mountain
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Day 2: Quito – Yanacocha – Tandayapa – Mindo Cloud Forest
Day 3: Tandayapa – Mindo Cloud Forest
Day 4: Pedro Vicente Maldonado Area – Mindo Cloud Forest
Day 5: Birdwatching in the Mindo Cloud Forest – Milpe Reserve
Day 6: Mindo – Pedro Vicente Maldonado Area – Silanche River
Day 7: Birdwatching in the Ángel Paz Reserve – Quito
Day 8: Antisana Ecological Reserve – Papallacta Hot Springs
Day 9: Papallacta Hot Springs – San Isidro Lodge – Quito
Day 10: Quito City Tour – Flight Home
South America Map
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1
Arrival in Quito

Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and taken to the selected Hotel in the modern part of the city for your first night’s stay.    -/-/-

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Day 2
Quito – Yanacocha – Tandayapa – Mindo Cloud Forest

After an early breakfast, you will depart from your hotel around 6:00 a.m. and be driven to the Yanacocha eco-resort, situated in the 3,600-meter-high Guagua Pichincha Volcano. In this area, famous worldwide for its great diversity of tanagers and hummingbirds, you will have a chance to observe several species that won’t be found elsewhere on the tour. These species include the Black-breasted puffleg, the Rainbow-bearded thornbill, Sword-billed hummingbirds, Buff-winged starfrontlets, Shining sunbeams, Golden-crowned tanagers, the Black-chested mountain tanager, the Hooded mountain tanager, Buff-breasted mountain tanagers, scarlet-bellied mountain tanagers, Giant conebills and many others. After observing as many birds as possible, we will continue traveling along this famous route to reach the Tandayapa Lodge for your overnight stay.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3
Tandayapa – Mindo Cloud Forest

After an early 5 a.m. breakfast, we will start our tour in the areas of Bellavista and Tandayapa, located at 2,200 meters above sea level. Due to the tropical climate of this region, there's an enormous diversity of species. Most prevalent are tanagers and hummingbirds, though today you'll have the chance to see at least 20 different species of hummingbirds and at least 12 species of tanagers. You are also likely to observe Plate-billed mountain toucans, Oscellated tapaculos, Green-and-black fruit eaters, the Golden-winged manakin, Blue-winged mountain tanagers, Grass-green tanagers, the Tanager finch and others. In the afternoon you will arrive at Sachatamia Lodge for dinner and the night.   

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Pedro Vicente Maldonado Area – Mindo Cloud Forest

After another 5 a.m. breakfast, you should be ready to hit the fields by 5:30 a.m. with a packed lunch for a day of birding in the Pedro Vicente Maldonado canton. This is a tropical forest zone situated at between 400 and 450 meters above sea level. This is an incredibly lush forest that's home to many endemic tropical forest species found only in southern Colombia, northwestern Ecuador, and a few areas of Panama. Some of these are the Banded ground cuckoo, Rose-faced parrot, Choco screech-owl, Five-colored barbet, Orange-fronted barbet, Black-tipped cotinga, Choco toucan, Stripe-billed aracari, Choco woodpecker, Double-banded graytail, Long-wattled umbrellabird and many tanagers and hummingbirds. In the evening you will return to Sachatamia Lodge for dinner and to record your bird list for the day.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5
Birdwatching in the Mindo Cloud Forest – Milpe Reserve

After an early breakfast, you should be ready to leave by 5:45 a.m. for birdwatching in the Mindo Valley, situated at 1,200 meters above sea level. In this area you will find a mixture of flocks that include tanagers, Wood creepers, Fly catchers, toucans and many different types of hummingbirds. At 1 p.m. we will have lunch and take a short break to take on some more birding until we return to the Sachatamia Lodge for dinner, after which time you can again record the species you've seen during the day.  

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 6
Mindo – Pedro Vicente Maldonado Area – Silanche River

We will head out early with packed lunches for a day of birding in the Pedro Vicente Maldonado reserve. For details about the possible bird species that could be seen, refer to those listed on Day 4. In the evening we will return to Sachatamia Lodge for dinner and for you to add to your already extensive list of bird sightings.  

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 7
Birdwatching in the Ángel Paz Reserve – Quito

After breakfast at 5:30 a.m., we will head out for some birdwatching around the Nanegalito area. Here you will visit Ángel Paz’ private reserve, where the diversity of species is abundant – especially tanagers and hummingbirds. In one day it's possible to spot up to 20 different species of hummingbird, 12 species of tanager, as well as Giant antpittas, Yellow-breasted antpittas, Ochre-breasted antpittas, Moustached antpittas, Cock-of-the-rocks, Plate-billed mountain toucans, Oscellated tapaculos, Green-and-black fruit eaters, Golden-winged manakins, Blue-winged mountain tanagers, Grass-green tanagers and Tanager finches. In the evening you will return to Quito.  

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 8
Antisana Ecological Reserve – Papallacta Hot Springs

After breakfast we will pack up at the hotel and drive to the Antisana Volcano, in the eastern Andean mountain range. Living here are up to 90 different registered bird species, ranging from the world’s largest bird (the condor), to the smallest (a species of hummingbird). Also visible in this area are Andean hawks, falcons, tapaculos, ducks, Andean gulls and many other species. Antisana is a region located at 3,000 meters above sea level, where its vegetation is comprised of the dense alpine tundra undergrowth. After a morning of birding, in the afternoon it should be possible to hike in this area, which has sensational views of the Antisana Volcano. In the evening you will arrive in the “hot springs town” of Papallacta, where you will stay either the Termas de Papallacta Resort or Guango Lodge for dinner and the night.  

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 9
Papallacta Hot Springs – San Isidro Lodge – Quito

After breakfast at 6 a.m., we will pack up and leave the lodge with a packed lunch to start our descent into the Amazon, eventually reaching the San Isidro Lodge. Along the way you will encounter many species of mid-elevation birds and also those species from the temperate climate zones of the Amazon basin. Some of the species that you should see are Booted racket-tails, Blue-fronted lancebills, Rufous-vented whitetips, Sword-billed hummingbirds, Bronzy incas, Long-tailed sylphs, Shining sunbeams, Collared Incas, Buff-winged starfrontlets, White-tailed hillstars, Glowing pufflegs, Mountain avocetbills, Golden-breasted pufflegs, Golden-headed quetzals, Powerful woodpeckers, Inca jays, Black-billed mountain toucans, and Grey-breasted mountain toucans. In the afternoon you will be driven back to Quito and chauffeured to the spectacular Hacienda Rumiloma for your overnight stay.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 10
Quito City Tour – Flight Home

After a delicious buffet breakfast, we will explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historic district in the Americas. In Quito’s “Old Town,” we will visit the most important churches – such as the impressive Cathedral, the majestic La Compañía, and the iconic San Francisco – which are guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. A large part of their interiors, especially the altars and pulpits, are gilded and these churches house innumerable works of religious art. Some of their museums hold valuable collections of paintings and sculptures belonging to the artistic genre that has come to be known as the “Quito School.” We will finish your visit of colonial history at the Panecillo hilltop. Here you will find breathtaking views of both the old and modern areas of the city, all surrounded by the rolling Andean foothills and dominated by the mighty Pichincha Volcano. You will then be driven to the international airport with plenty of time to check in for your flight home. Our hope is that you will have had an amazing birding adventure here in Ecuador!  

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Breakfast
2017 - Price per person
2 Persons
Hotel CategoryDouble
First ClassUS$ 4,112
Included in the price:
  • Accommodation in double rooms at mentioned hotel or comparable ones
  • Meals as mentioned on the program
  • Safe drinking water and/or juice, and tea or coffee during meals
  • Specialized Tropical Birding guide (English/Spanish speaking) with scope and audio gear from the morning of day 2 to the afternoon of day 10
  • Arrival and departure airport transfer per person
  • Ground transport for the group to all sites in the itinerary with a local driver
  • Entrance fees to birding sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Printed and bound checklist to keep track of your sightings (given to you at the start of the tour)
Not included in the price:
  • Optional tips for guide and driver, tips for luggage porters in the city hotels (if you require their services)
  • Domestic and/or international flights
  • Snacks and additional drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Excursions not included in the tour itinerary
  • Personal expenses
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Birdwatching in the Andes

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Testimonials

“Thanks so much again! Surtrek, a realiable travel partner and service provider of Operation Earth for our Galapagos Expedition program!”Leon Chen

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