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An experience meant to introduce you to the hundreds of species of birds in Ecuador, this eight-day tour will take you through several reserves and help you take amazing photographs of some of the cutest and rarest little birds. Known for being home to spectacular birds, Ecuador is a great place to explore and photograph different varieties of Hummingbirds, Tanagers, Toucans and Quetzals. Read on to know more about the hummingbirds of Ecuador and other popular birdlife found here.
Arrival in Quito
Upon arrival at Quito airport, our representative will guide you to your hotel for accommodation.
Since most flights reach Quito in the evening, the tour will start from the next morning.
Trip to Yanacocha to Tandyapa
The day begins with a trip to Yanacocha, a reserve known for the wide variety of birds that can be found here. Run by an Ecuadorian NGO called the Jocotoco Foundation, the reserve is mainly being looked after as a vital habitat of the Black Breasted Puffleg, a critically endangered hummingbird species. Other popular hummingbird species found here include Great Sapphirewing, Sapphire-vented and Golden-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed, Tyrian Metaltail, Hummingbirds. Most of the hummingbirds found here are renowned as spectacular and rare.
Yanacocha is famous for other mixed bird species as well including mountain-tanagers like Hooded, Scarlet-bellied, and Black-chested as well as birds like Supercilaried Hemispingus and Spectacled Redstart.
The morning is spent spotting famous birdlife at the reserve, followed by a lunch on site. We then continue the tour to Tandyapa, driving down a famous eco route for birds, the Old Nono-Mindo Road. There will be several stops on the way, to try and spot birds en route. Some of the species you can expect to encounter include Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Andean Lapwing, White-capped Dipper, and Torrent Duck. After passing the eco route, we continue on to the sub-tropical zone, where you could spot mixed species like Capped Conebill, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Beryl-spangled Tanager, and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.
After reaching Tandayapa sometime around late afternoon, it’s time for a short reprieve, following which we will visit the famous hummingbird feeder which is said to attract almost 20 different species of the bird. You can expect to get a glimpse of popular species like Western Emerald, Booted Racket-tail, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-bibbed White-tip, Brown Inca, and Purple-throated Woodstar.
The next five days will be spent here.
Visit Lower Tandayapa Valley
Today we will explore several places filled with birdlife and activity in the Lower Tandayapa valley, starting with a forest blind a short walk away from the lodge. On an early morning walk in the forest blind, we will visit a large area of light that attracts several moths where all the birds flock to for an early breakfast. You can expect to spot several cloud forest species like White-throated Quail-Dove, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Russet-crowned Warbler, Streak-capped Treehunter, Zeledon’s Antbird, and Scaled Antpitta.
After returning to the lodge for breakfast, we will set out to explore the several bush finches found close to the lodge, like the Masked Trogon, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Slate-throated Whitestart, Toucan Barbets which are easy to spot.
The rest of the day is spent taking popular bird trails while looking out for tanger varieties like Metallic-green, Flame-faced, Golden, Silver-throated, White-winged, and Beryl-spangled and common birds like Beautiful Jay, Golden-headed Quetzal, Streak-headed Antbird.
If time permits, you might be able to take a night walk and spot the occasional nocturnal species too, like Lyre-tailed Nightjar.
Explore Mashpi Area
The day consists of exploring the Mashpi Area famous for birds like the Buffy (Pacific) Tuftedcheek, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, and Moss-backed Tanager. Other possible fowlers you could catch include Blue-tailed (Chocó) Trogon, Ochre-breasted Tanager, and Rufous-throated Tanager; Uniform Treehunter, Black Solitaire, or Esmeraldas Antbird.
After exploring and spotting some of the birds, we continue our tour to a local reserve where special feeders attract local desired birds, giving you amazing photo opportunities. Some of the special varieties include Velvet-purple Coronet and the elegant Empress Brilliant.
The rest of the day depends on what the guide has planned and how the weather is. We might get a chance to explore some of the foothills of the Milpe area.
Trip to Under Tandayapa Valley
The day begins with an early breakfast and a ride to some of the higher elevations of the Tandayapa valley to try and spot some famous species of birds like the Tanager Finch, Toucan Barbet, and Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan. Some of the other species you can expect to encounter include Gorgeted Sunangel, Collared Inca, Dusky Chlorospingus (Bush-Tanager), Green-and-black Fruiteater, Grass-green Tanager, and Pearled Treerunner.
After exploring the upper parts of the valley, we return to the lodge for lunch. Before returning to the valley, we might spend some time at the hummingbird feeders. In the evening we will return to the valley to try and catch a glimpse of difficult skulkers like Plain-tailed Wren, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Striped Treehunter, Ocellated Tapaculo, and Chestnut-crowned Antpitta.
Explore Rio Silanche
This day begins with a ninety-minute drive to the Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, where you will get to spot several species of Tanagers. Some of the tanager species you’ll get to see include Scarlet-browed, Rufous-winged, Gray-and-gold, Guira, Blue-necked, Bay-headed, and Golden-hooded Tanagers and some of the dacnises species as well. Because of the fragmented habitat filled with patches of forest land, pastures, and several plantations, we just might be able to cover over a hundred species of birds here in a day. Other fowlers you’ll get to see here include woodpeckers, with Guayaquil, Lineated, Cinnamon, Golden-olive, Black-cheeked, Red-rumped, and Olivaceous Piculet and varieties of puffbirds like White-whiskered and Barred Puffbirds.
The roads near the reserve are great areas to catch a glimpse of parrots and toucans- the Choco and Black-mandibled (Chestnut-mandibled) Toucans, Collared (Pale-mandibled) Aracari, and Bronze-winged Parrot are regulars here.
From Paz de Aves to Quito
Located near Mindo, Paz de Aves is a quaint reserve known to be a key attraction for even the shyest of bird varieties. Antpitta varieties are the key attractions here, to spot which we’ll have to start our exploration early at dawn. One of the farmers fed worms Giant, Moustached, Yellow-breasted, Ochre-breasted, and Chestnut-crowned Antpittas and became a huge birding sensation here.
At around 6 am, get ready to get a good eyeful of male Andean Cock-of-the-rock birds which gather together at ‘leks’ to attract the females. We then move on to the forest trail. The reserve has small hummingbird feeders as well so you’ll be able to spot varieties that you missed out on the other explorations here like Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Toucan Barbet, Olivaceous Piha, and Sickle-winged Guan.
Later, we take a drive back to Tandayapa, where lunch will be arranged. After lunch we’ll start for Quito, making a few stops to spot a few popular bird varieties on the way. Some of the species you could spot en route are White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Black-tailed Trainbearer, and Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch.
You will be transferred to the Quito airport where the tour concludes today with your departure flight from the airport.