The Southern endemics
Extension - Pacific Ocean
Southern Ecuador has long been neglected by naturalists and ornithologists, the first real breakthrough coming when the ornithological expedition of Cherrie and Chapman in the early 20th century unveiled many of its treasures. Indeed, no less than 40 endemic or near-endemic (only shared with adjacent Peru) can be found in this tiny region. The region is framed by the coastal deserts of northwest Peru, the super humid Chocó forests of northwest Ecuador and Amazonia in the east. It exhibits a complex and capricious topography. Because of these multiple biogeographical influences, a high level of endemism is observed. The region hosts many poorly known and rare species. We offer you to discover these specialties in this tour.
We also propose a follow up to this circuit involving a few days on the Pacific Ocean coast to discover some stunning ecosystems.
Main Itinerary - The southern endemics
Days 1-2. We will start in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. After a brief stop in the semi-deciduous forests and mangroves of the Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve, we will head to the south and the famous Buenaventura Reserve, owned by the Jococoto Foundation.
Days 3-4. In the Buenaventura Reserve, we will explore a narrow band of cloudforest facing the Pacific Ocean. Two endemics can be found here: the El Oro Parakeet and the El Oro Tapaculo. Several other species from the Chocó region reach their southernmost distribution and are quite common here, chiefly among them the rare and spectacular Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
Days 5-6. It will then be time to leave Buenaventura to the reserve of Jorupe, further to the south-west. At this time of the year, following the seasonal rains the dry and dusty deciduous forests turn into a verdant oasis. In a variety of habitat ranging from bushy deserts to humid tropical forest and decidous forest, we will look for the specialties the region has to offer.
Days 7-8-9. After a long road and a stop at the Utuana Reserve, we will have our share of mossy vegetation and epiphytes in the temperate altitude forest in Tapichalaca, yet another famous reserve belonging to the Jocotoco foundation. Amidst the precipitous landscapes of the neighbouring Podocarpus National Park, this reserve host a tremendous abundance of altitude species and one of the most iconic birds of the Neotropics, the Jocotoco Antpitta discovered in 1997 and only found in a tiny mountainous region in southern Ecuador and adjacent northern Peru.
Days 10-11. We will hit the road again to reach our last objective in the east: the Cordillera del Condor, along the mythical Nangaritza Rio, and try to locate the fabulous Orange-throated Tanager (yet another recently described species).
Days 12-13-14. Tracing our steps back to the region of Zamora and the Podocarpus National Park, we will stay in Copalinga, a beautiful lodge home to a dazzling array of hummingbirds, tanagers and other frugivorous species visiting the feeders.
Days 15-16. We will the head north in the Andes to explore a few patches of altitude forest near the indian village of Saraguro, north of Loja. A visit to the only site in the world to see the Pale-headed Brush-Finch (rediscovered in 1998) in the inter-andean valley: the Yunguilla Reserve will prove mandatory.
Days 17-18. Finally, before our return to Guayaquil, we will visit the beautiful city of Cuenca and the nearby Cajas National Park. We will look here for our last endemic of the trip, the rare Violet-throated Metaltail and will have access for the last time to the high andean paramo and its associated guild of specialized species.
At the end of the main itinerary, so as to avoid an unnecessary waiting time for the extension to take place, day 18 of the The Southern endemics trip actually corresponds to the day 1 of the Pacific Ocean extension.
Extension - Pacific Ocean
Day 1. For the participants to the extension, we will head to the small coastal resort of Puerto Lopez. Along the way, we will explore the dry deciduous forests of the Cerro Blanco reserve and the desertic habitats on the Santa Elena peninsula..
Day 2. Today, we will explore the semi-decidous coastal forests in the Machalilla National Park and the semi-humid forest of the Ayampe Reserve, home to an extremely rare tiny endemic: the Esmeraldas Woodstar.
Day 3. We will visit the Isla de la Plata, an island some 30km offshore which hosts a few iconic species better known from the Galapagos archipelago.
Days 4-5. Our circuit will end up after our return to Guayaquil. We will have a last look at the salt pans and coastal marshes of Ecuasal to see a few waders and gulls.
PRICE : XXXX $US for 8 people for the main itinerary The Southern endemics.
XXXX $US for 8 people for the extension Pacific Ocean.
(see the price grid in our Detailed Informations page).
Tour duration : 18 days for the main itinerary The Southern endemics.
5 days for the extension Pacific Ocean.
Tour date : October 2018.
Group size : 4-10 people with a "Tour Leader".
Tour Leader : Vincent MOURET.
Arrival : Guayaquil.
Departure : Guayaquil.
Lodging : Hotels and lodges from "standard" category to "superior" category. 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 - Pacific Ocean (TFB_ECUADOR_004_THE SOUTHERN ENDEMICS).
Potential number of species : 450 - 550.
Photography : Good opportunities, especially around feeders.
Included : all transportation, lodging in double rooms with private bathroom, all meals except dinner in Cuenca, multilingual tour leader, drinkable water, rubber boots.
Not included : International flight, travel insurance, visas, airport taxes, entrance fees for some sites, alcoholic beverages, tips, dinner in Cuenca, "single" occupation (for the price, please refer to the Detailed Informations page).
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