Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Ian Segebarth photo)
For additional information about this tour please call Steve Hoffman (406-461-5714).
Single Supplement: $690
Participant to Guide Ratio: 5 to 1
Accommodations with private bathrooms.
Activities and meals as mentioned in itinerary.
Donation to local conservation efforts.
Private transportation and driver for the duration of the program.
Travel protection, post-departure coverage (excludes trip cancellation).
Cost is based on a minimum of 10 participants (double occupancy). This trip may incur unforeseen fuel surcharges.
A $200 per person deposit and enrollment form is due to hold your space on this trip. This deposit is refundable 120 days prior to departure, excluding a $100 cancellation fee. Cancellations after this date will result in loss of full deposit.
Travel/trip cancellation insurance is strongly
recommended. For more information call Travel Insured (800-243-3174) or visit travelinsured.com.
Final payment due date: September 8, 2020.
BIRDING THE ECUADORIAN AMAZON: December 8-19, 2020
Exceptionally rich in biodiversity, Ecuador is a birder’s playground with some 1,640 species of birds, many of which are rare and endemic. With your expert guide’s assistance discover the exceptional avian fauna and other wildlife (sloths, monkeys and more!) residing in Ecuador’s multitude of ecosystems. Experience many of the finest natural reserves in all of Ecuador, including Antisana National Park (famous for exquisite views of Andean Condors, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles and a array of other high-elevation species!). Search for the unique and stunning Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe above Papallacta Pass (in the high Andes at 14,000 feet elevation). In Guango Reserve find the Sword-billed Hummingbird, with its distinctive long bill; identify a great many species of colorful tanagers within the Wildsumaco area; leisurely hike along the Río Napo, or challenge yourself to spot the elusive dusky titi monkey. Journey through pristine primary forest with towering kapok and fig trees, and experience an up-close view of the lowland rainforest on a suspended canopy walk within the Sacha Reserve. Explore the remarkable beauty and biodiversity of the Ecuadorian Amazon as well as the High Andes and Cloud Forests on this 12-day trip, visiting unique avian hotspots that are sure to thrill bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Merlin Birding is offering this trip with Holbrook Travel. To register, please click HERE.
ITINERARY AT A GLANCE:
December 8: Arrival in Quito; check into Puembo Birding Gardens (PBG).
December 9: Early morning orientation; birding PBG grounds; drive toward Papallacta for high-elevation birding.
December 10: Guango Reserve to enjoy hummingbird feeders, walk the grounds; drive to San Isidro for birding, dinner and overnight.
December 11: San Isidro: Birding near lodge, then drive toward Las Caucheras for more cloud forest birding.
December 12: WildSumaco: Early morning at San Isidro, then drive to WildSumaco Sanctuary for birding/overnight.
December 13: WildSumaco: Bird trails all day; night-time nature observation.
December 14: Sacha: Early breakfast, depart for Coca-Sacha Lodge; 2-hour canoe ride on Napo River, rainforest birding; nocturnal nature observation.
December 15: Sacha: Birding throughout local area, including “canopy walk”.
December 16: Sacha: birding & canoe rides in flooded forest; explore aspects of local indigenous cultures.
December 17: Quito: Depart early morning; canoe ride, then short flight back to Quito.
December 18: Quito: Early departure to Antisana National Park; return to Quito for farewell dinner.
December 19: Transfer to airport for flights home.
DECEMBER 8 - QUITO
Arrive in Ecuador, meet and greet at the airport, transfer to your hotel. (Check-in at Puembo Birding Gardens is available at 2pm.).
DECEMBER 9 - PAPALLACTA
Breakfast and program orientation at the hotel. Enjoy birding at Puembo Birding Gardens prior to mid-morning departure for Papallacta area. We shall ascend into the highland páramo ecosystem (14,000 ft. elevation!). Here we will search for Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Variable Hawk, Andean Gull, Bar-winged Cinclodes, and much more. Arrive in Papallacta, a peaceful town famous for its restorative hot springs. Gather for dinner, review the day’s bird checklist; enjoy relaxing in the thermal pools. Overnight at Termas de Papallacta Hotel & Spa. (BLD)
DECEMBER 10 - SAN ISIDRO
This morning we will travel to Guango Reserve. This private reserve lies at a higher elevation (about 8,800 ft.) on Ecuador’s eastern slope, 7 miles down the interoceanic Highway from Papallacta. This area is within the humid temperate forest ecological zone. It is a paradise for hummingbird lovers and photographers. The Sword-billed Hummingbird, with its spectacularly long bill is sure to impress! Other birds seen regularly at Guango may include the Andean Guan, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Turquoise Jay, Buff-breasted and Hooded Mountain-Tanagers, Gray-hooded Bush Tanager, Black-headed, Black-capped and Black-eared Hemispingus, and Slaty Brush-finch. Later in the day we shall drive on to San Isidro Lodge and Reserve. Overnight at San Isidro Lodge & Reserve. (BLD)
DECEMBER 11 - SAN ISIDRO
San Isidro Reserve now boasts a bird list of 310 species, many of which are more easily found here than anywhere else in the country. (This is the only place where the San Isidro Owl can be seen.) The lodge is situated at about 6,725 ft. above sea level, but the trails pass through habitats from 7,900 ft. down to 6,000 ft. It is an ideal base for finding Andean birds between the lower reaches of the temperate zone and the heart of the subtropical zone. We will search for Black-billed Peppershrike, Subtropical Cacique, and Russet-backed Oropendola, among many others. We shall drive toward Las Caucheras, near the Cosanga River, where we may see the Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Sulfur-bellied Tyrannulet, White-tailed Tyrannulet, and a plethora of other species. Overnight at San Isidro Lodge & Reserve. (BLD)
DECEMBER 12 - WILDSUMACO
The Andes’ Eastern Foothills are one of the finest, yet most threatened areas for birding in Ecuador. About 500 bird species have been seen within the Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary and adjacent areas. This area includes Loreto Road (where the main highway crosses Río Pucuno, elevation 3,800 ft.) up to the border of Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park (5,200 ft.). The road passing through the reserve offers great road birding, and this is one of the many areas to see mixed-species flocks. Possibilities here include Blue-browed Tanager, Yellow-breasted Antwren, and Coppery-chested Jacamar. Many colorful tanagers may be accompanied by the Ecuadorian Tyrannulet and the recently described Foothill Elaenia; the Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater may also be found here. You’ll also see many North American migrants and over 30 species of hummingbirds. At night we shall look for the Band-bellied Owl, Rufescent Screech-Owl and Foothill Screech-Owl, which are often heard calling from nearby. Overnight at Wildsumaco Lodge. (BLD)
DECEMBER 13 - WILDSUMACO
We will enjoy an early breakfast, followed by birding on the trails. From WildSumaco’s network of trails we may see Gray-tailed Piha, Blue-rumped Manakin and Chestnut-crowned Gnateater. The very rare Yellow-throated Spadebill is also present along several of the trails. At any time, the endangered Military Macaw, or rare Spot-winged Parrotlet could fly by, and a Black Hawk-Eagle is often observed soaring overhead. We will lunch at the lodge. This afternoon, we hope to enjoy viewing an antpitta feeding station, and then continue birding around the grounds before dinner. This evening, we’ll seek out nocturnal creatures with our local guide. Overnight at Wildsumaco Lodge. (BLD)
DECEMBER 14 - COCA
Early this morning, after breakfast, we shall depart for Coca. At the Puerto Francisco de Orellana port we shall board a canoe for a two-hour ride down the Napo River, then take a short rainforest hike, and cross Lake Pilchicocha to Sacha Lodge (2.5- hour journey). Of the 1,600 bird species recorded in Ecuador, 600 (37%) have been seen at Sacha Lodge (nearly 7% of all bird species on Earth!). We’ll enjoy observing birds at the mini-tower and the butterfly house before dinner at the lodge. After dinner, you will have the chance to accompany your naturalist guide on a night walk through the rainforest to view some of the hundreds of different species of mammals that can only be found at night. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (BLD)
Velvet Purple Coronet
DECEMBER 15 - COCA
We will begin the day on Liana Chica Trail, arriving at the canopy walk for spectacular views of the rainforest and a great variety of birds. Designed with a self-standing, rigid suspension, the canopy walk is one of only a few in the world. Located within Sacha´s private reserve, two miles from the Río Napo and just a mile from Sacha Lodge, the bird walk provides an opportunity to experience the terra firma and igapó forest habitats, where your guides will point out many different species of medicinal plants that have been used locally for hundreds of years. Liana Grande eventually turns into the Higuerón Trail, taking you through pristine primary forest with huge kapok and fig trees towering hundreds of feet overhead. After lunch, you may choose to take a leisurely hike along the Río Napo, or a more challenging hike on the Leoncillo Trail. Along this route you may spot the elusive dusky titi monkey. Either trail will lead you back to the main boardwalk for your final hike and canoe ride back to Sacha Lodge. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (BLD)
DECEMBER 16 - COCA
After breakfast we will hike the Lagartococha Trail. In addition to excellent birding, this trail offers the chance to learn about the local indigenous people and their relationship to the forest. At Lake Lagartococha we will enjoy a tranquil canoe ride through a large wetland, home to anacondas, caimans, and capybaras. A walk along the lake we may spot capuchin or squirrel monkeys playfully climbing in the trees. At this point we might head back to the lodge for a refreshing dip in the lake, or a relaxing nap in your hammock on your private balcony. After lunch, your local guide will teach you how to fish for the infamous razor-toothed piranha. You will also have the option to experience a canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian rainforest; perhaps you will spot the shy and elusive river otter, or the well-camouflaged three-toed sloth. Later we shall arrive at Sacha´s 135-foot tall tower built around an ancient kapok tree. Here we can enjoy many vibrantly-colored birds through spotting scopes and watch the sunset, perhaps with an extraordinary view of the scenic Sumaco volcano. With luck we might glimpse the distant, snow-covered peaks of the high Andes. After dinner, a night-time canoe ride offers a different sensory experience; you will likely hear the symphony of various frogs and insects, as well as nocturnal birds making their eerie calls; we should see the glowing eyes of a caiman. You may also detect various species of bats flying overhead. Once we approach the welcoming lights of Sacha Lodge, our exciting day of nature exploration will conclude. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (BLD)
DECEMBER 17 - QUITO.
After an early breakfast we’ll depart from Sacha Lodge, traveling by canoe (for ~2 hours) to Puerto Francisco de Orellana, where we will board a plane back to Quito (30-minute flight). Once in Quito we will transfer to our hotel. Overnight at Rincón de Puembo Hotel. (BLD)
DECEMBER 18 - QUITO.
Today we’ll go birding in Antisana National Park. We should find Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Carunculated Caracara, Andean Lapwing, Andean Gull, Yellow-billed Pintail, Silvery Grebe, Andean Teal, Andean Coot, Tawny Antpitta, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, and many others. We’ll have lunch at Tambo Condor, and return to the hotel in time to get cleaned up before our final bird checklist meeting and farewell dinner. Overnight at Rincón de Puembo Hotel. (BLD)
DECEMBER 19 - DEPART
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home. Hotel checkout deadline is at noon. (B)