Ecuador: Birding the Andes

  1. 2018
    Thursday, October 18, 2018 to Monday, October 22, 2018
    Tour Duration: 
    5 days
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Quito, Ecuador
    Number of Persons Limit: 

• Exhilarating scenery of the snow-capped Andes

• Marvelous birding in scenic and diverse habitats, from Eastern slope forests to Polylepis woodlands and paramo at Papallacta Pass

• Comfortable lodges situated with wildlife all around

• Hummingbird feeders with tremendous diversity – including amazing Sword-billed Hummingbird and astonishing Booted Racket-tail

• Impressive Andean Condor

• Stunning Andean Cock-of-the-Rock



Come with us as we experience diverse habitats and birds of the Andes! Our birding tour includes the 4000 meter high paramo in the Papallacta Pass, in the shadow of the immense, snow-capped peak of the volcanic Antisana and its glacier, and the eastern slope of the Andes at Wildsumaco and Guango Lodges. This is a glorious opportunity to sample the amazingly diverse South American birdlife amidst superb scenery! We encounter a wealth of fascinating species – lots of hummingbirds with evocative names such as Gorgeted Sunangel and Sword-billed Hummingbird, the latter feeding on the long trumpet-shaped Datura flowers. There are trogons and quetzals, barbets and mountain-toucans, gaudily-plumaged tanagers, and maybe the superb Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. Soaring over Papallacta Pass is the very impressive Andean Condor. The unique “polylepis” forest groves at these high altitudes have their own special wildlife, and the clear mountain rivers support the “torrent trio” of Torrent Duck, Torrent Tyrannulet and the superb White-capped Dipper. A marvelous experience of mountains and forests and their exciting wildlife!

This tour is offered as a pre-tour for our Galapagos Expedition Cruise.

Itinerary View Short Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Quito

Most people will arrive on flights late this evening and will be transferred to our hotel. Night in Quito.

Day 2 – Papallacta Pass to Wildsumaco Lodge

After breakfast and an orientation to the tour, we leave Quito and drive to Papallacta Pass of the eastern Andes and the continental watershed. Here we are in the 4000 meter high paramo, in the shadow of the immense, snow-capped peak of the volcanic Antisana and its glacier. The paramo – an alpine tundra ecosysten above the treeline and below the snowline - holds a fascinating group of high-altitude species, including Variable Hawk, canasteros, antpittas and, perhaps, an Andean Condor or two. We search nearby “polylepis” groves for specialties such as Giant Conebill and Black-backed Bush-Tanager. Lower down near the town of Papallacta, we watch for the spectacular Sword-billed Hummingbird – a species of hummingbird with a bill as long as its body and that specializes in feeding in long trumpet-shaped flowers such as Datura. Here are also a host of other great birds like Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing and the colorful Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. We also scan the Río Papallacta for the “torrent trio” of Torrent Duck, Torrent Tyrannulet and the superb White-capped Dipper. We then drop down to Wildsumaco Lodge for the night. Night at Wildsumaco.

Day 3 - Wildsumaco Lodge

Wildsumaco Lodge has gained a reputation for tremendous birding potential with excellent trails and superb hummingbird feeders. Mixed-species flocks pass through the forest, quetzals call from the canopy, army ants attract a host of followers, and oropendolas call noisily from their nesting colonies. The list of goodies seems endless - umbrellabirds, jacamars, flowerpiercers, euphonias, thorntails, honeycreepers, tanagers, fruiteaters and much more. The birdlist at the lodge is well over 400 species, an incredibly rich avifauna. There will also be a parade of colourful butterflies, perhaps an agouti or monkey, and a background of calling frogs. Night at Wildsumaco Lodge.

Day 4 – Wildsumaco to Guango Lodge

We spend the early morning birding at Wildsumaco, then we retrace our steps back up the eastern slopes, arriving at noon at Guango Lodge. This is another particularly rich area, and we should encounter a wealth of exciting species –guans, mountain-toucans, mountain-tanagers, hemispinguses, trogons, chat-tyrants, bush-tyrants, and caciques. Hummingbird feeders attract a procession of hummingbirds with evocative names such as velvetbreast, sunangel, puffleg, woodstar, coronet, sylph and avocetbill. Again, an agouti may wander through the grounds. Night in Guango Lodge.

Day 5 – Return to Quito

We spend the morning at Guango Lodge, walking their exceptional trails and looking for species not yet located, then we head back over Papallacta Pass, stopping perhaps to scan for Andean Condors, and reach Quito in time for the Galapagos Tour orientation.


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