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Ecuador with Wild Insights

  • Quito
  • Papallacta
  • Wild Sumaco
  • Napo River
Ecuador with Wild Insights Ecuador with Wild Insights

Few countries can offer such altitudinal variation as Ecuador and, not surprisingly, this is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. The list of bird species is staggering with over 1600 being recorded including impossibly psychedelic tanagers, a bewildering array of hummingbirds, skulking antbirds, woodcreepers, tyrant flycatchers, manakins, parrots, macaws and the weird and rather prehistoric Hoatzin.

 Our tour starts in the high snow-capped Andes where the gigantic, iconic Andean Condor soars over unspoilt paramo. Gradually we work our way down in altitude, staying in comfortable lodges selected for their position, each level offering a different array of species. We have deliberately chosen each part of the tour accordingly, finishing in the steamy lowlands where our last few days will be spent quietly paddling around creeks in the Yasuni National Park - home to Caimans, Anacondas and Giant Otters.

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15 days from
per person
Tour Date:
17th November 2019 -
30th November 2019

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Ecuador with Wild Insights

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Day 1-2 London / Quito
London / Quito

Outbound flights to Quito via Amsterdam depart from most UK airports early morning using the scheduled services of KLM, arriving in Quito late afternoon. Check in to Garden Hotel San Jose where we will be staying for two nights.

We then check in to Garden Hotel San Jose where we will be staying for two nights. For those with any energy the garden of the hotel may provide first bird sightings such as Sparkling Violetear, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and Great Thrush.

Overnight at Garden Hotel San Jose.

Day 2-3 Quito / Antisana / Papallacta
Quito / Antisana / Papallacta

Today we will be heading to the nearby Antisana Ecological Reserve exploring some of the highest altitude areas on the tour. The snow-covered top of Antisana Volcano is located at 18,886 ft and is the fourth highest peak in Ecuador.

We may see many high altitude and local specialties including Ecuadorian Hillstar, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, Tawny Antpitta, Tufted tit-tyrant, Red-crested Cotinga, Paramo Pipit, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch and Black-winged Ground-Dove. In the extensive stretches of open country, we will look out for Carunculated Caracaras, Andean Gulls, Andean Lapwings and the rare Black-faced Ibis. This reserve is also the best place to see collosal Andean Condors sailing out from the cliffs where they breed.

Lake “La Mica” is a reliable site for Andean Coots, Andean Teals, Andean Ruddy Ducks, and Yellow-billed Pintails. This is also the best place in Ecuador to observe closely the elegant Silvery Grebe. Lunch at the reserve and return to Quito. Overnight at Garden Hotel San Jose.

The following day we travel along the Papallacta Pass with birdwatching stops on the way. This relatively treeless area is a key site for the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Andean Snipe, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Shinning Sunbeam, Masked and Black-backed Mountain-Tanagers, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Giant Conebills and Curve-billed Tinamou. Overnight at Termas de Papallacta.

Day 4-6 San Isidro
San Isidro

After breakfast we travel a short distance to Guango Lodge where, in the garden, multitudes of hummingbirds await, including Sword-billed, Mountain Velvetbreast, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Tourmaline Sunangel and Glowing Puffleg. Further explorations of the grounds may produce Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Torrent Duck, White-banded Tyrranulet and both Black and Masked Flowerpiercers. After Lunch at Guango Lodge we descend further down the slope, arriving at San Isidro Lodge, our base for the next three nights. This is in the sub-tropical zone with correspondingly luxuriant vegetation and taller trees, full of life. During our stay here, we should be treated to an extravaganza of bird species from various families such as jays, oropendolas, flycatchers, woodcreepers, trogons, quetzals and warblers, many of which feast on the insects which are drawn to the lodge lights. Mixed flocks move through the forest and along roadside trails, extraordinary flashes of colour coming from Blue-winged Mountain-tanagers, Blue and Black and Saffron-crowned Tanagers. This is also the site for the little-known and so far, unclassified San Isidro Owl. Some of the most difficult birds to see are the Antpittas but we have some of our best chances here including White-bellied and Plain-backed. Overnights in San Isidro Lodge.

Day 7-8 Wild Sumaco
Wild Sumaco

Today we move from one bird paradise to another, and although we only travel less than three hours, we descend another 3000 feet to Wild Sumaco a beautiful lodge which has been created with birdwatchers in mind and where we spend the next two nights. Here the hummingbirds and the tanagers compete for our attention. Amongst the array of tanager species, we will be looking out for Golden-eared, Orange-eared, Paradise, Magpie, Spotted, Green-and-gold and Golden whilst the flowers and feeders provide a constant source of interest to multiple hummingbird species including Napo Sabrewing, Wire-crested Thorntail, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Gould’s Jewelfront, Violet-fronted Brilliant and Ecuadorian Piedtail. As if these were not enough we will also be exploring the forest where we might encounter Military Macaw, Gilded Barbet, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Lined Antshrike, Ornate Antwren, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Blue-rumped Manakin and Golden-collared Honeycreeper. Overnights Wild Sumaco Lodge.

Day 9-13 Coca, Napo River
Coca, Napo River

The next stage of our tour takes us logically down further in altitude – to the Napo River which is a tributary to the Amazon and to an area with the greatest biodiversity on earth. Our journey by road finishes at Coca after which we transfer initially to motor boat, along the huge Napo River and then into paddle canoes which take us along the Ananguyacu Creek to our fabulous lodge built by the Anagu tribe. The Napo Wildlife Centre has top-class accommodation and an amazing tower with a platform on top from which we can scan over the surrounding forests and lagoons, looking out for Bare-throated Fruitcrows, Spangled Cotingas, Blue-and-yellow Macaws and raptors such as Ornate Hawk-eagle and, if we are very lucky, Harpy Eagle.

Our full three days here will enable us to explore the quiet waterways, gliding along silently by paddle canoe. An extraordinary 600 species have been recorded within the grounds of the NWC which is continuous with the Yasuni National Park. Amongst the birds we may encounter are Yellow-billed Jacamar, Black-necked Red Cotinga, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Great-billed Hermit, Black-fronted Nunbird, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Castelnau’s Antshrike, Black-faced Antbird, Screaming Piha, Oriole Blackbird, Fulvous-crested Tanager and Opal-rumped Tanager to name a few.

Canoes and forest trails will take us to amazing spots where hundreds of parrots and macaws visit to salt licks. Other fauna includes Giant Otter, Caiman and Anaconda while in the forest we may see Red Howler Monkey, Monk Saki Monkey and Golden-mantled Tamarin. Overnights Napo Wildlife Centre.

Day 14 Coca/ Quito / London
Coca/ Quito / London

On our final day we make an early start, firstly by canoe and then by boat back to Coca, connecting with a short flight to Quito then connecting to international flights home via Amsterdam arriving the following day.

Day 15 Amsterdam / London

Connecting flight from Amsterdam arriving back at UK Regional airports in the mid-afternoon.

  • It was a complicated and very individual trip, and several changes were made by me during the planning. None of this seemed to worry Ayesha and everything went according to plan.

    AM, India