What makes this trip special?
The ultimate 23 day birding journey through Ecuador and Galapagos that includes the highlights of birding in mainland Ecuador, including both the Western and Eastern slopes of the Andes staying at all the best birding lodges before heading onto the superlative Napo Wildlife Centre in the Amazon Rainforest. Led by one of our team of top birding guides with an enviable bird list – this is the ultimate Ecuador birding holiday followed by 8 days cruising in the Galapagos on board one of our hand-picked yachts, where you will have the chance to see some of the iconic birdlife of the archipelago.
- Average number of birds expected to be seen & heard: 500-550 species
- Top bilingual birding guide
- Visit all the best birding lodges in one of the words best birding destinations
- Experience Amazon lowland rainforest, lower and upper montane rainforest, North Ecuadorean Grassland and quebrada vegetation, Grass Paramo, Shrub and Cushion Paramo as well as the Galapagos archipelago
- 8 days cruising Galapagos on board one of our hand-picked yachts
- Day 1
Arrive in Quito. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel, with the rest of the day to relax and recover from your flight. Overnight Quito.
- Day 2
Nono-Mindo road – Yanacocha – Bellavista
An early start to bird the famous Nono-Mindo Road as you drive west from Quito. This road passes through the Alambi River valley with beautiful tracts of temperate and subtropical forest. An ‘Ecoruta’ the road is also known as el Paseo del Quinde, named as a result of the large number of hummingbirds found in this section of the northwestern slope, most famously the rare and endemic Black-Breasted Puffleg one of the rarest hummingbirds in the world, along with other Choco endemics. From here onto Jocotoco Foundations Yanachocha Reserve, a wet temperate forest reserve, set up mainly to protect the endemic Black-breasted Puffleg as well as the Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Sapphire-vented Pufflegs, Great Sapphire wing and Buff-winged Starfrontlet , are some of the other hummingbirds that can be spotted here. Arriving at Bellavista late afternoon.
- Day 3
At an elevation of 1,650 to 2,350 meters, with plunging valleys and tall trees festooned with orchids and bromeliads, the forest around Bellavista is a perfect place to find restricted range birds such as the Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, the Toucan Barbet, and the rare Tanager-Finch as well as a host of hummingbirds. Around the lodge are an excellent network of more than 10 km of trails through the lodge’s 700 hectare reserve.
- Day 4
Bellavista – Sachatamia
Early morning birding around Bellavista before heading to Sachatamia. Sachatamia at an altitude of 1700meters, offers spectacular hummingbird viewing, settled in a private forest of around 300 hectares with close to 200 bird species seen in the area and reserve. Other attractions include a nearby cock of the rock lek and one of the two ‘LEK’ registered in Ecuador as pertaining to the Umbrellabird Longuipendulo.
- Day 5
Sachatamia – Angel Paz
Birding at Sachatmia, early morning visit to Angel Paz, this small private reserve has become the latest birding sensation in the northwest and is sometimes affectionately referred to as "the antpitta farm". Here Angel Paz, a local farmer has gained the trust of some normally rare and shy forest species by offering them juicy worms. Yellow-breasted, Moustached, and Giant Antpittas are now regularly seen here (Yellow-breasted being the most reliable), and the local covey of Dark-backed Wood-Quail is seen on perhaps one out of three visits. Other forest birds regularly encountered are Golden-headed Quetzal, Toucan Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and Scaled Fruiteater. Crested Quetzal can occasionally be found at fruiting trees.
- Day 6
Sachatmia – Guango
More birding around the lodge, before departing for Ecuador’s eastern slopes and Guango lodge which lies at around 2,700 meters surrounded by temperate forest and very birdy flocks – birding all the way! This area is characterised by its thicker canopy, and is only a short drive from tree-line forests and treeless paramo zones. Known for the stunning variety of hummingbirds that visit the feeders which include Mountain Velvetbreast, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Golden-breasted and Glowing Pufflegs, along with other birds which are seen regularly including Andean Guan, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan and Turquoise Jay.
- Day 7
Full day birding around Guango
- Day 8
Guango – San Isidro
After early morning birding around the lodge, you head East to San Isidro lodge whose immediate surroundings now boast a bird list of about 310 species, many of which are more easily found here than anywhere else in the country. Although the lodge is situated at about 2050 meters above sea level, the trails lead through elevational gradients that pass through habitats from 2,400 meters all the way down to 1,850 meters. What this means to birders is an ideal base to observe Andean birds from the lower reaches of the temperate zone down into the heart of the subtropical zone. Birds such as Highland Tinamou, Greater Scythebill, Bicolored Antvireo, Peruvian and Giant Antpittas, and White-rimmed Brush-Finch are a few of the exciting rarities that make their homes at San Isidro Lodge. The White-faced Nunbird might even put in an appearance as it has been seen at San Isidro more in recent years than at any other single site on the east slope in Ecuador.
- Day 9
Full day birding around San Isidro.
- Day 10
Sani Isidro – Wildsumaco
After early morning birding, you will travel even further south to Wildsumaco, a new lodge with an elevation of 1400m and a private forest reserve ranging from 1200 to 1500m. A wonderful mix of cloud forest species, foothill specialties, and typically Amazonian birds inhabit Wildsumaco's lush subtropical rainforest. Many of the birds here are rare, endangered, or very difficult to see elsewhere. The very rare Yellow-throated Spadebill has a territory along the lodge’s Piha Trail, and at any time the endangered Military Macaw or rare Spot-winged Parrotlet might fly by, or Black Hawk-Eagle soar overhead.
- Day 11-14
Napo Wildlife Centre
Travel further east to Coca, where you and your guide will be met by the Napo Wildlife Centre team, and your Amazon journey will begin. The multi-award winning Napo Wildlife Center, is the greatest and ultimate alternative luxury eco-hotel in Amazonian Ecuador. The lodge, which is 100% owned and operated by the local indigenous community, enjoys a stunning location by the side of a secluded lake, with an incredible bird list of 568 species, spectacular parrot lick's and a network of trails. Some obvious highlights include the world's largest and most reliable population of Zigzag Herons, frequent sightings of Agami Herons, virtually guaranteed sightings of all five kingfishers found in the Amazon, and a better population of mixed-species understory flocks and ant-swarm specialists than you will find at any other lodge in the Napo region. And, of course, 51 species of antbirds. The Canopy Tower installed in November 2004, has produced some amazing sightings including Black-faced Hawk, Crested Eagle, and Harpy Eagle in addition to the cotingas and canopy tanager flocks that pass right through the tree. The Parrot Clay Licks are an experience that one would not want to miss, and the clay licks at the Napo Wildlife Center are the most accessible in Ecuador.
- Day 14
Return to Quito
- Day 15-22
Cruise Galapagos Islands
On day 15 you will take your flight out to Galapagos to join one of our hand-picked 8 day cruises in the Galapagos Islands.
- Day 22
Return to Quito
Today you will take your flight back to Quito where you will be met by one of our team of guides and taken to your hotel for the night.
- Day 23
Transfer to the airport for flight home