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.