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This ten-day Ecuador photography tour is filled with photography opportunities of the jewels of Ecuador! As you travel to various scenic reserves in locations like Quito and Tandayapa, this tour is custom made to help you take some of the best shots of these rare species. Enjoy the quaint reserve and relish the opportunity to get close up shots of some of the sparsest varieties of birds here. Our expert guide sets up a multi-flash setup for hummingbird photography, so that you can shoot them perfectly during their natural behaviour. Get multiple opportunities to shoot families of Tanagers, Quetzals and Toucans in picture perfect perches to get that perfect shot.
Arrival at Quito
Upon your arrival at Quito, a representative will meet you at the airport and guide you to your hotel for accommodation.
Since flights usually arrive in the evening, the tour will begin from the next day.
Trip from Antisana to Guango Lodge
The day begins with a trip to the beautiful and snow-capped Antisana Volcano. The grasslands surrounding the Volcano are one of the favorite parts of the tour for many, especially because of the photo opportunities one gets here. The Andean lakes surrounding the areas can usually be found flocked with several birds including the high altitude waterfowl and Andean Gulls. The grassland itself serves as a home to Carunculated Caracaras, a pied raptor, and Black-faced Ibis as well as the Andean Lapwings. After clicking some good pictures, we move on to have lunch on-site and then proceed to the Guango Lodge, where the next three days of the tour will be spent.
Known for its bird feeders that attract several species of hummingbirds and local varieties as well, the Guango Lodge is a quaint and scenic place. Some of the popular hummingbird species for photography you can find flocking here are Sword-billed Hummingbird, the black-and-white Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, White-bellied Woodstar, and Tourmaline Sunangel.
Local beauties like the indigo blue Masked Flowerpiercer and cerulean-blue Turquoise Jay are quite a capture too if you get the opportunity to click a picture of one.
Papallacta and Guango to Quito
If the weather permits, we might get a chance to capture photos of the high altitude birds that come to rest and flock at the grasslands surrounding the Andes at Papallacta Pass. Some of these include Tawny Antpittas hop canasteros and tit-spinetail. After exploring the Papallacta Pass, we shall retire for lunch to the Guango Lodge. The rest of the afternoon is usually spent according to your wish- you can either watch the Torrent ducks in the lakes surrounding the lodge or take a walk in some of the forests behind it. Another option is to spend this time getting some up-close shots of the birds visiting the hummingbird feeders.
We then head back to Quito sometime in the late afternoon.
|Days 5 - 8||
Northwest Ecuador based out of Tandayapa Bird Lodge
The day begins with a trip from Quito to the Tandayapa Bird Lodge, where the next four nights will be spent. An area known for its huge variety of bird species, Tandayapa is located in the forestlands within the slope of the Andes. The most popular species of birds found here is the hummingbird, which will be the subject of most of the photographs here. Some common species you might encounter include Booted Racket-tail, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-bibbed Whitetip Western Emerald, and Purple-throated Woodstar. A lot of colorful bird varieties visit the fruit feeders in the lodge as well, like Red-headed Barbet, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, or Toucan Barbet which are great to take photographs of up-close.
Although Tandayapa is a great place to spot birdlife, it’s surrounding areas have a lot to offer as well. We will be traveling to several places throughout these four days, according to the plan designed by the designated guide according to weather conditions, feeder activity, and his or her knowledge of the locals.
Yanacocha: Known for attracting species like Scarlet-bellied and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Sword-billed Hummingbird, and Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch, Yanococha is usually a stop we take while coming to Tandayapa since it is located on the way from Quito.
Tandayapa Bird Lodge hummingbirds: Usually at least one day is allotted to explore and photograph the hummers of the lodge. After the leader teaches everyone to set up the equipment and the technique, you will get the chance to take pictures of over seven species of hummingbirds. The most common visitors here are Booted Racket-tail, Andean Emerald, Purple-throated Woodstar, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, and Violet-tailed Sylph.
Birdwatcher’s House: Located close to the lodge, the birdwatcher’s house is a private residence where a variety of birds visit to feed on the insects. The usual visitors you can expect to see include late-billed Mountain-Toucan, different types of trogons, flycatchers, tanagers, brush finches, and warblers. Hummingbirds are regulars too with varieties like Speckled, Collared Inca, and Gorgeted Sunangel commonly found here.
Rancho Suamox: Fixed with both fruit and hummingbird feeders, Rancho Suamox is a private farm that attracts woodpeckers, tanagers, and, of course, hummingbirds. Some common species found here are Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Dusky-faced, Rufous Motmot, Silver-throated, and Flame-rumped Tanagers, Buff-throated Saltator, Ecuadorian Thrush, Orange-bellied and Thick-billed Euphonia.
San Tadeo: Known for the wide variety of tanagers that visit this place, San Tadeo is a great location to catch a glimpse of Black-capped Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Dusky Bush-Tanager, Ecuadorian Thrush, Black-striped Sparrow, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Golden-naped Tanager, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Red-headed Barbet, Toucan Barbet, and Lemon-rumped Tanagers. This location belongs to a local family who became famous because of the fruit feeders they’d set up, which attracted the birds.
Milpe Bird Sanctuary: Looked after by the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation, an Ecuadorian NGO, the Milpe Bird Sanctuary is a quaint little reserve offering a wide range of bird species to capture. Some of the prominent species here include Green Thorntail, Green-crowned Woodnymph, and Green-crowned Brilliant, and the White-whiskered Hermit.
Mashpi Amagusa and Oilbirds: This trip is a long one from Tandayapa but the lush green scenery and forestlands that greet you make it worthwhile, along with the diverse birdlife you will encounter here. Owned privately by a young couple, this reserve is host to a variety of birds thanks to their effort to conserve the habitat and thus putting up several feeders in the area. Some of the birds you can expect to find here include Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Moss-backed Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Golden Tanager, and Crimson-rumped Toucanet. Hummingbird feeders attract a significant number of birds as well, including Velvet-purple Coronet and Empress Brilliant. After a morning filled with taking photographs, the afternoon will consist of the chance to ger close-up photo-op with Oilbirds, a rare nocturnal species. They are normally found in caves but we get a chance to spot them in the forestlands instead.
Upper Tandayapa Valley: The upper plane of the valley is usually cooler forestland, which has its range of species to explore. A day is spent here, trying to get good photos of the rare varieties found here like the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan.
Paz de las Aves to Quito
After an early departure from Tandayapa, we head on to Paz de las Aves. Known for the bright red bromeliads covering the moss-covered trees in its forestlands, Paz de las Aves is a photographer’s delight. We start the day with an early morning walk to observe the beautiful mating performance of the Andean Cock-of-the-rocks. Further down the trail, you will get to see a lot of shier species of birds up close, including Giant, Moustached, Yellow-breasted Antpittas, Ochre-breasted, and Chestnut-crowned Antpittas, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Andean Bear, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, and White-capped Dipper. After a fun afternoon filled with exploring and taking beautiful photographs of the birds, we will either visit one of the reserves in Tandayapa and then proceed towards Quito, where the night is spent.
The tour ends with your transfer to the Quito airport where you can catch your departure flight back home.