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Best of the Andes

Detailed Informations

The Andean itinerary followed by this tour is a classic, with well-known sites, but still as good as ever. Over the course of 2 weeks, it is by no means far-fetched to hope for more than 400 bird species (a number no other itinerary can ensure for the same duration in Ecuador). The itinerary is built so as to show you over 75 species of hummingbirds and other highly sought-after neotropical species. The route has been carefully crafted to visit the remarkable Andean ecosystems of the northern part of the country, from the snow-capped volcanos, to the lush foothill forests, passing through the misty subtropical forests of the Andean slopes.

Days 1-2. The tour will start in Quito, the capital city of the northern Inca empire. The city is built along the lower parts of the Pichincha Volcano. Our first ornithological stage will be the temperate forest of the beautiful Yanacocha Reserve along the western flank of the volcano. The feeders along the main trail are known to attract many hummingbirds, including the amazing and aptly named Sword-billed Hummingbird.


Day 3. We will continue our descent of the western slope of the Andes by driving to the famous Bellavista Lodge. Bellavista and the Tandayapa valley are no doubt names likely to ring a bell in the mind of many birders. We will have ample opportunity to look for such goodies as the magnificent Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, the very rare Tanager Finch or the gaudy Golden-headed Quetzal among many others. We will also carefully scan the numerous mixed species flocks occurring in these forests shrouded in clouds.


Days 4-5. Lower still, the visit of the foothill forest of the Milpe Reserve and the lowland forest of Rio Silanche will keep us busy for the next two days. These reserves host some of the most remarkable Chocó endemics. In particular, the Rio Silanche Reserve is one of the last remnants of lowland Chocó forest – a highly threatened ecosystem – in this part of Ecuador.


Day 6. The Mashpi area, our destination today, is the last trendy playground among Ecuadorian birdwatchers. We will visit the reserves of Mashpi Shungo and Mashpi Amagusa in search of the specialties of these fabulous ultra humid forests.


Day 7. Time will seem to freeze for a few hours during our visit of the renowned Angel Paz property. During the course of a single morning, we should be given crippling views of up to five species of Antpittas, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock displaying near their lek, Toucan Barbet and Crimson-rumped Toucanet. Following this feast for the eyes, another feast  awaits you, when the wives of the Paz brothers will cook delicious bolones de verde and other specialties for us.

Day 8. We will then trace our steps back to Quito, then push on to the huge expanse of páramo at the base of the mighty Antisana Volcano, one of the last refuge for the endangered Andean Condor in Ecuador.


Days 9-10. The second part of our tour will start by looking for high altitude species around the Papallacta pass, before diving in the bamboo-rich temperate forest surrounding the Guango lodge. The abundance of hummingbirds here is breathtaking.

Days 11-12-13. We will then descend a little further down to reach the famous San Isidro lodge, surrounded by pristine and beautiful subtropical forest, inhabited by the mythical  “San Isidro” Owl (a taxonomic enigma yet to be found anywhere else on earth). After a quick visit of the fabulous Huacamayos ridge, and a stop at the hummingbirds of the Narupa Reserve (owned by the Jocotoco Foundation), we will return to Quito to end this trip.


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PRICE :  2477 $US for 8 people (see the price grid in our Detailed Informations page).


Tour duration : 13 days.

Tour date : September 2018.

Group size : 4-10 people with a "Tour Leader".

Tour Leader : Vincent MOURET.

Arrival : Quito.

Departure : Quito.

Lodging : Hotels and lodges of "comfort" and "superior" categories. Hot water and electricity are available 24 hours a day.

Pace : Moderate (a few walks in muddy and/or steep terrain, a few hours of roadside birding above 4000 m).

Possible extension : Ecuador Galápagos - On Darwin's steps (TFB_ECUADOR_005_ON DARWIN'S STEPS).

Potential number of species : 400 - 500.

Photography :  Good opportunities, especially around feeders.

Included : all transportation, lodging in double rooms with private bathroom, all meals except dinners in Quito and Papallacta, multilingual tour leader, drinkable water, rubber boots.

Not included : International flight, travel insurance, visas, airport taxes, entrance fees for some sites, alcoholic beverages, tips, dinners in Quito and Papallacta, "single" occupation (for the price, please refer to the Detailed Informations page).

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