The Andean Chocó, a marvel of biodiversity, is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. A thoughtful journey for contemplative observers focused on birds but also on wildlife and biodiversity as a whole.

Nestled behind the peaks of the Pichincha volcano in Ecuador, this natural gem recently gained fame when it was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Covering 287,000 hectares of native subtropical forest, the Andean Chocó absorbs around 250 tons of carbon per hectare, thus purifying the air of our planet. With 12 types of forests and four climatic classifications, this ecological mosaic harbors an incredible wealth of fauna and flora. Thousands of species, including exotic birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and more, populate this unique ecosystem. Visitors can easily access and photograph iconic species such as the spectacled bear or discover hidden treasures like the olinguito. With its countless waterfalls, lush landscapes, and rich history, the Andean Chocó offers an unparalleled natural experience, where untouched nature guarantees a true escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Ecuador
8 days
From 1847 US$
18th International Symposium on Trichoptera 18th International Symposium on Trichoptera
Birdwatching trips in South America Birdwatching trips in South America

Your travel expert

Xavier Amigo

Responsible for naturalist, botanical and ornithological travel. Responsible of fixing and profesional contact.

Xavier Amigo
xavier@ecuador-experience.com
Contact our expert
8 8 days

Day 1: Quito - Alambi - Tandayapa valley

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Early departure from our hotel marks the beginning of our journey to the Chocó mountain region. The descent by private transportation along the western foothills of the Andes promises to immerse us in the rich ecosystem of the Andean forest. Upon reaching the entrance of the Tandayapa valley, our first stop is the Alambi River bird reserve (1550 meters). Here, we will not only have the opportunity for easy birdwatching and photography around numerous hummingbird feeders but also to admire the vibrant floral vegetation, rich in texture and colors. A short walk along the river will surely allow us to observe some typical species of the high subtropical forests: Golden-headed Quetzal, White-capped Dipper, Rufous Motmot, Uniform Antshrike and Torrent Duck. Lunch will be served in front of the hummingbird feeders, providing a picturesque backdrop for our meal.

In the afternoon, we will continue our journey to our lodge nestled higher up in the Tandayapa valley (2200 meters), within the enchanting cloud forest. Once settled into our rooms, we can look forward to encountering new species of hummingbirds around the feeders, adding to the day's already memorable experiences: Booted Racket-tail, Violet-tailed Sylph, Collared Inca, Gorgeted Sunangel  and others. After dinner, we can set off in search of several nocturnal mammals, including the Olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), the first new species of carnivore to be identified on the American continent for 35 years. These nocturnal, tree-dwelling animals hide around the lodge making it possible to take some superb shots.

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Bellavista Lodge - Cloud-Forest Superior Ecolodge
2h30

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, lunch, dinner, and overnight stay.

Day 2: Bellavista Cloud forest

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Today we'll be exploring the reserve's many trails in search of the region's most emblematic species. We'll start at dawn with a nature spotting session around the lodge, where a large number of insectivorous species come in the early hours to feed on moths and other insects, exhausted from their twirling dances around the lights. We then continue by exploring the higher areas of the reserve. A walk along the various forest paths will give us the opportunity to understand a little more about the ecological dynamics of these fragile ecosystems. For those with a keen eye for photography, we'll be looking for the most aesthetically pleasing textures and colours to complement our Portfolio: tree ferns, anoles, centrolenes, epiphytic orchids, heliconias, orthopterans and so on. We'll take advantage of the late afternoon to perfect our photographic techniques around the watering holes, where here too, an incredible diversity of hummingbirds squabble in a very open, bright space (Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Collared inca, Gorgeted Sunangel, White Booted Raquet-tail). Dinner and overnight at the Bellavista lodge.

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Bellavista Lodge - Cloud-Forest Superior Ecolodge

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight stay.

Day 3: Paz de las Aves - Balcon Tumpiki - Sachatamia

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This morning, one of the most anticipated visits of the trip awaits us: the Paz de las Aves Bird Sanctuary. We will begin exploring this legendary reserve at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lek, where we can photograph the extraordinary courtship display of this unique and colorfull Cotinga as it frolics in its display Lek. Situated at 1800 meters above sea level, this reserve is the stage for an incredible spectacle. Over the years, Angel Paz, the owner, has managed, through unique techniques, to habituate several species of Antpittas, including the Giant Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Chestnut-capped Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, and Moustached Antpitta, along with a few other rarities, to come and feed at regular sites. This will give us the opportunity to photograph these typically invisible understory birds. We will also spend time near the hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders to comlete our list of Andean Chocó species. Lunch will be provided on site. In the afternoon, we will continue our journey to our next stop, Milpe Bird Sancttuary. Here we will take advantage of the various trails that criss-cross this magnificent forest where you can visit several leks of different species of Manakins and you will witness the abundant mixed flocks near the various hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders .

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Sachatamia - Nature Lodge
2h30

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight stay.

Day 4: Sachatamia - Santa Rosa

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In the early morning, we'll head to the two hides near the lodge, eagerly anticipating the arrival of certain understory species and rare frugivorous birds attracted by fruit. After more than an hour, we'll ascend the observation tower in hopes of spotting additional canopy species before returning to the lodge for breakfast. Later in the morning, we'll set off for Santa Rosa, a small reserve managed by a bird photographer, offering excellent opportunities to photograph a variety of typically rare species in a tranquil setting. With hummingbird feeders, toucan and tanager feeders, there's plenty of activity to enjoy. In the afternoon, you'll have the option to relax at the well-equipped lodge or explore the various trails in search of the mythical Long-Wattled Umbrellabird and other fauna such as tapirs, agoutis, and brocket deer. Dinner and overnight stay at the same lodge.

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Sachatamia - Nature Lodge
1h00

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight stay.

Day 5: Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary

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Breakfast at the first light of dawn, then we'll take just a few steps around our Lodge to finalize our last observations and close-up photos near the lights that attract a multitude of lepidoptera during the night. Then, we'll depart for the Silanche Bird Sanctuary, a reserve owned by the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation, located at about 600 meters above sea level. We'll dedicate the entire morning to searching for endemic species of the Chocó lowlands. This ecosystem is by far one of the most threatened in the country. Indeed, intensive agriculture of oil palms, bananas, palmhearth, etc., has led to the destruction of most of the forest in the western lowlands, except for a few plots now turned into reserves and some parts of the Esmeraldas province. We'll spend a good part of the morning on the observation tower patiently waiting for the extremely rich mixed flocks of rare and colorful birds. A box lunch will be served on site. Then, we'll take the road back to our next lodge. Possible stops will be made along the dirt road to complete our observations of higher altitude species. Arrival in the Mashpi region to settle into a brand new charming lodge in the heart of one of the country's most impressive bird reserves. Dinner and overnight stay on site.

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Mashpi Amagusa Reserve - Birdwatcher Lodge
2h00

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight stay.

Day 6: Mashpi Amagusa Reserve

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Amagusa is one of those new must-visit reserves for enthusiasts of rare and emblematic species of the neotropics. The tremendous conservation effort by Doris and Sergio, the owners, has transformed this part of the upper Mashpi Valley into an iconic and exemplary reserve in Ecuador. Simply put, birds abound here. Among the various options available to us, a first dawn observation session will be possible with a large number of insectivorous species around the lodge, which come in the early morning to feed on night butterflies and other insects exhausted from their swirling dances around the lights: Choco Vireo, Lemon-spectacled Tanager, Andean Solitaire, Barred Becard, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Choco Warbler, Uniform Antshrike, Choco Tyrannulet, as well as Rose-faced Parrot, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, and much more. You only have to step out of our rooms to enjoy the show. After a good breakfast and a list of at least 60 species, we'll take the main road to capture some other rare species from the forest edges: Golden-winged Manakin, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Double-toothed Kite, Green Thorntail, and Geoffroy's Daggerbill. The other photography sectors of the reserve are equally impressive: Rufous-throated Tanager, Green Honeycreeper,  We won't miss a moment or space of this magical place; a tip: bring extra batteries and memory cards. Dinner and overnight on the same Lodge.

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Mashpi Amagusa Reserve - Birdwatcher Lodge

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and overnight stay.

Day 7: Amagusa - Oilbird Cave - Quito

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This additional morning on site will allow us to finalize our observations of possible species not seen the previous day. After breakfast, it will be time to bid farewell to our hosts and hit the road towards the canyons of the Guayllabamba River to visit the Cueva de los Tayos. The Cueva de los Tayos reserve is the best place in Ecuador to get up close to the strange cave-dwelling Oilbirds. Managed by local farmers committed to preserving this resting site for these unique nocturnal birds, this private reserve also has a special mission to address the damage caused by agricultural activities in the region. Additionally, a long list of complementary birds can also be observed here. A few stops along the way will allow us to complement our observations. There is the possibility of making a cultural stop at the archaeological site of Tulipe where the Yumbo civilization left behind beautiful stone infrastructure. Arrival in Quito by the end of the day.

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Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide, breakfast, lunch, and overnight stay.

Day 8: Papallacta Pass

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After an early breakfast, we will take the short road leading to the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve. Along the route, which runs alongside an ancient Pleistocene glacier valley, we will take some time to admire the magnificent landscape and, more importantly, to try to observe the rare Andean spectacled bear, the only native bear of South America. Then, we will explore the high-altitude grassy and bushy vegetation in search of hummingbirds and high Andean songbirds, as well as the White-tailed deer and the impressive Andean Condor. We will continue ascending to the antennas, located at around 4500 meters, to try to observe the rare Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe. Depending on the weather and the time allotted to this search, we will have the opportunity to reach the Papallacta hot springs area, where we can finalize our observations of high-altitude species and enjoy a hearty meal before returning to the Ecuadorian capital. Dinner and night at your own.

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1h50 + 1h50

Private transportation, naturalist English-speaking guide and lunch.

Dates of the next departures

Dates
Status
From Jul 06 to Jul 13, 2024
Trip full

You want a personalized departure date? Contact us. Request a personalized date

Dates Status
From Jul 06 to Jul 13, 2024 Trip full

Prices per person

4 travelers 6 travelers 8 travelers
2,236 US$ 1,847 US$ 1,644 US$

You are a group of travelers and want a special rate? Contact us. Request a personalized quote

Included

  • Private transport (gasoline, road taxes, parking, insurance of the vehicle and its passengers)
  • All transfers as mentioned
  • Bilingual naturalist guide
  • Entry to the reserves
  • 24 hour assistance
  • Accommodation in double room with private bathroom
  • Meals as mentioned, picnic for some hikes
  • Ecuador Bird Guide
  • Ecuador Bird Checklist
  • Spottingscope at participants' disposal
  • Water during transportation

Not included

  • International flight. (You can consult our list of tour operators offering flights)
  • Excursions and activities indicated as optional in the programme
  • Meals in Quito on days 1 and 16 (count between 8 and 15 US$/meal)
  • Single room supplement (595 US$)
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks during meals
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips
  • Personal insurance
  • Bank commissions for payments

Payment and reservation terms

To book your tour, please confirm your agreement in writing to your travel expert.

  • Deposit of 30% of the invoice amount at the time of booking
  • Secure online payment by credit card (Visa, Master Card or American Express, a payment link will be sent to you at the current USD/EUR exchange rate).
  • The balance must be paid at the latest 45 days before the arrival in Ecuador according to the same terms.

The agency declines all responsibility for the execution of the confirmed services in case of non-compliance with the above payment terms.

Important note

Itineraries may be subject to last minute changes due to natural disasters or changes in domestic legislation. The visitor must take into account and accept the possibility of last minute changes in the organisation of the trip. The operator therefore reserves the right to make any changes necessary to ensure the safety and integrity of the travellers and to comply with the laws in force. The hotels are given as an indication subject to availability at the time of booking the tour. In case of unavailability, a hotel of the same category will be proposed.

Formalities

passport valid 6 months after your return date. No visa is required at this time. Your health insurance (private or public) is compulsory to enter Ecuador.

Vaccinations: although no vaccinations are compulsory, we advise you to consider those against tetanus, yellow fever and hepatitis A and B as indispensable.
We recommend that you consult your doctor before departure and that you take out insurance to cover medical expenses and repatriation.
Concerning parasitic diseases transmitted by mosquito bites (such as malaria, dengue fever, Chikungunya), please note that Quito and the centre of the country and the Galapagos are not affected. Furthermore, the majority of the country's risk areas are not in the zones we visit during our itineraries.

Rates in US dollars based on double occupancy (single supplements not included). These rates are valid for the dates selected but may be subject to increase at the time of booking and depending on the tourist season and local holidays. Our quotations are calculated in US Dollars and we are committed to this amount. The equivalent value in Euros or in any other currency is therefore indicative and calculated on the basis of the exchange rate on the day of the offer.

 

Your guide for this trip

Juan Carlos Figueroa

Juan Carlos Figueroa

en es
Juan Carlos is an ecuadorian/mexican biologist and nature/birding tour guide, grown in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. He is a passionate naturalist with a lifelong interest in wildlife, which evolved at the age of 20 into an absolute fascination with birds and conservation. In its beginnings in birdwatching his favorite place for birding was a forest in his hometown called Cerro Blanco Protected Forest. In which after a few years he decided to train to work as an environmental interpreter. This was a decisive step in his life, as this led him to discover his vocation to share his passion for the birds and their conservation. During the last seven busy years he has devoted himself entirely to working as a guide, traveling, and birding to new areas and has collaborated in bird conservation projects in Ecuador. He has traveled extensively to all 24 provinces of Ecuador, leading tours to different parts of the country specially the west, north and south of it. With his age of 29 he is one of the most experienced birders of Guayaquil and Ecuador, having seen over 1,100 species. Juan Carlos seeks to achieve its dream of encouraging bird conservation in Ecuador and guiding groups of birdwatchers worldwide.

Characteristics of the trip

Travel theme

Nature and Birdwatching tour

Accompaniment

English-Speacking Nature Guide

Group

Private - 4 o 6 pax

Arrival city

Quito

Departure city

Quito

Food

Local and internationall meals

Accomodation

Superior Nature Lodges

Transport

Private

Physical condition

Easy to moderate
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