8 DAY BIRDING TOUR

OVERVIEW

Eight glorious days to discover birds in Ecuador's imposing Andean valleys, mystical could forests and deep-green tropical forests. Prepared yourself to delve into Ecuador's most biologically-diverse birding reserves and eco-lodges looking for endemic hummingbirds, vivid tanagers, splendid toucans, skulking antbirds, agile warblers, and, many more. 

DETAILED ITINERARY

DAY 1

Pick-up from Quito airport and transfer to San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito.
Overnight San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito.

DAY 2

Birding San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito & Jerusalem Dry Inter-Andean Reserve:
Our journey begins with a hot cup of Ecuadorian coffee in the festive "Cucayo" breakfast room at San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito. After breakfast, we explore the beautiful gardens and trails around the lodge.San Jorge Quito Breakfast Room Some of the early morning highlights include the Tufted Tit-tyrant, Rufous-naped Brush-Finch, Azara's Spinetail, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Southern Yellow Grosbeak, Grass Wren, Red-crested Cotinga, and, the Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant. After exploring the trails, we head to the front patio where a set of hummingbird feeders await us with new surprises including the Black-tailed Trainbearer, Green-tailed Trainbearer, the bizarre-looking Sword-billed Hummingbird, Sparkling Violetear, Tyrian Metaltail, Shining Sunbeam, and the tiny White-bellied Woodstar. 

Black Tailed Trainbearer 2Black-tailed Trainbearer. Photo taken at San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito. © Luis Alcivar

After a morning packed with new species, we have lunch at the lodge to then drive for 1 hour to Jerusalem Reserve, the last remnant of prime inter-Andean forest in the valley of Quito. Jerusalem forest is mostly composed of native cactus (Cactaceae) and impressive ancient "Algarobo (Acacia)" trees fully covered in mosses and ephyfites. At this elevation, we will look for dry-Andean species which are hard to see elsewhere including the Scrub Tanager, Giant Hummingbird, Purple-collared Woodstar, Streaked Saltator, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Tropical Mockingbird, Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch, Harris's Hawk and in some occasions the Stygian Owl. Late afternoon return to Quito lodge for dinner.
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito.

Sword billed Hummingbird 2The Sword-billed Hummingbird visits the hummingbird feeders at San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito . © Luis Alcivar

DAY 3

Birding Yanacocha Road & Old Nono-Mindo Road:
After breakfast, we drive for 40 minutes to Yanacocha Reserve's road which runs through the Andean slopes of Pichincha Volcano. At this elevation, we will look for several Upper-Andean species like the stunning Golden-crowned Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, Rufous Antpitta, Barred Fruiteater, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Great Sapphirewing, and many more. Yanachoca is also home to the critically endangered Black-breasted Puffleg which is casually observed.  

Scarlet bellied Mountain Tanager 2The Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager likes the fruit trees around San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito. © Luis Alcivar

At around noon, we have our boxed lunch surrounded by stunning Andean landscapes to then begin our descend down the "Old Nono-Mindo Road" or "Hummingbird Route" which connects the imposing Andean ridges with the lushy Cloud Forest of Tandayapa. Andean Landscape 1 We will slowly descend this road, making strategic stops to look out for a wide variety of birds including the highly sought-after Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Plushcap, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Andean Guan, Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Masked Trogon, Beautiful Jay, and the Crested Quetzal. Perhaps the most memorable part of this road will be when we stop in front of the Andean Cock-of-the-rock LEK (gathering of male birds that engage in competitive display), which is arguably the most iconic and stunning bird species of Ecuador.
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa Hummingbird Sanctuary.

Andean Cock of the rock 2The Andean Cock-of-the-rock leks in the the upper valley of Tandayapa © Luis Alcivar

DAY 4

Birding San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa - Hummingbird Sanctuary
On Day 4, we will wake up at San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa Hummingbird Sanctuary located in the heart of Tandayapa Cloud Forest Reserve. Tandayapa Valley holds the world record with 42 species recorded in one year. We begin the day exploring the 4 observation decks overlooking our prime cloud forest reserve and the bird feeders around the lodge which will provide an incredible amount of birds species before breakfast and without having to engage in much walking.San Jorge Eco lodge Tandayapa Deck The bird feeders in front of the main patio are visited by multicolored bird species like the Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Streak-capped Treehunter, Three-striped Warbler, White-winged Becard, Metallic-green Tanager, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Golden-naped Tanager, Golden Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Silver-throated Tanagers and many more. Additionally, the hummingbird feeders in front of the breakfast room will be crowded with hummingbirds including the iconic Booted Racket-tail and the Violet-tailed Sylph.

Booted Racket tail The exotic Booted Racket-tails are commonly seen at San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa. © Luis Alcivar

After early birding madness, we have breakfast and for the rest of the day we will explore different trails at our private cloud forest reserve. Each trail will offer us different variety of birds, just to list some we will go after the Scaled Antpitta, Toucan Barbet, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Masked Trogon, White-winged Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Ringed Kingfisher, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Immaculate Antbird, Plain Antvireo, Uniform Antshrike, Russet-crowned Warbler, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Bat Falcon, White-throated Quail-Dove, Golden-headed Quetzal, and, with some luck, the enchanted White-faced Nunbird. We will have lunch and dinner at our open-air restaurant overlooking the impressive valley of Tandayapa.
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa - Hummingbird Sanctuary.

Day 5

San Tadeo Road and San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe Bird Sanctuary:
After breakfast at the lodge, we begin our drive down to the tropical forest of Milpe making short stops along San Tadeo Road which offers a couple of new hallucinatory birds species Masked Trogon 4 like the Streaked Tuftedcheek, Grass-green Tanager,Dusky Bush-Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Crested Quetzal, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Narino's Tapaculo, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Gorgeted Sunangel, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, Ocellated Tapaculo, Turquoise Jay, Tanager Finch, and a second chance at the Masked Trogon and the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan. After San Tadeo we drive to San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe Bird Sanctury for lunch.

Plate billed Mountain ToucanWe have a second chance at the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan along the road of San Tadeo © Luis Alcivar

After lunch at San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe, we will explore one of the lodge's  "Manakin Trail" to look out for several forest species including the Esmeraldas Antbird,Rose faced Parrot Bicolored Antbird, Slaty Antwren, Choco Warbler, Streaked Xenops, Glistening-green Tanager, Choco Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Collared Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Spotted Woodcreeper, Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Spotted Barbtail, Ornate Flycatcher, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Lineated Woodpecker, Emerald Tanager, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Choco Toucan, Chestnut Mandibled Toucan, Golden-winged Manakin, Buff-rumped Warbler, Crested Guan, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Purple-throated Fruitcrow and with some luck the Lanceolated Monklet.
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe Bird Sanctuary. 

Toucan Barbet 2 The endemic Toucan Barbet can be seen at San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa and along San Tadeo Road. © Luis Alcivar

DAY 6

Birding San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe:
It will feel like a complete different world when we wake up in the lush rain forest of Milpe. Early in the morning we will observe birds from the main observation deck rising at 65 feet tall.San Jorge Eco lodge Milpe Canopy Tower The deck is in height with the tall tropical forest granting us the oportunity to confortably observe canopy and sub-canopy flocks usually containing, Western Slaty-Antshrike, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Rose-faced Parrot, Marron-tailed Parakeets, Choco warbler, Bay Wren, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Swallow Tanager, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, Squirrel Cuckoo, Olivaceous Piculet, Cinnamon Becard, Yellow-throated Bush Tanager, Gray-and-Gold Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Guira Tanager, Purple Honeycreeper, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Blue-necked Tanager, and the Broad-billed Motmot. From the lower observation deck we will also enjoy several birds visiting the banana and hummingbirds feeders including the Green Honeycreeper, White-whiskered Hermit, Green Thorntail, Stripe-throated Hermit, Green-crowned Woodnymph, Green-crowned Brilliant and Stripe-thorated Hermit.

Glistening green Tanager 2The Chocoan endemic Glistening-green Tanager can be seen from the observation deck at San Jorge eco-lodge Milpe. © Luis Alcivar

After breakfast and after lunch we will go after harder species by exploring several trails that that lead to the most dense portion of our prime tropical forest.Banded Ground cuckoo We will look out for the White-wiskered Puffbird, Rufous-fronted Woodquail, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove, Pallid Dove, Tawny-throated Leaftoser, Dusky Antbird, Plumbeous Hawk, Black-faced Anthrush, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, Spotted Nightingale Thrush, White-crowned Spadebill, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Green-fronted Lancebill, White-bearded Manakin, Club-winged Manakin and with some luck the Lanceolated Monklet, Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, and, the Banded Groud Cuckoo (One of the 50 rarest birds in the world) which in 2016, was seen and photographed by 6 different groups.

DAY 7

Birding Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary:
After breakfast we drive down to the lowest elevation of the trip at Silanche Bird Sanctuary. A mere 1 hour drive takes us to a transitional tropical forest with numerous exquisite new bird species including the Blue-browed Tanager, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Tawny-crested Tanager, Dot-winged Antwren, Blue-capped Parrot, Violet-chested Hummingbird, Orange-fronted Barbet, White-necked Puffbird and a casual White-tipped Cotinga, Chestnut-fronted Macaw and, the large Black Hawk-Eagle. The road leading to the reserve will also augment our checklist with roadside birds like the Masked Water-Tyrant, Striped Cuckoo, Golden-hooded Tanager, Little Cuckoo, Pacific Parrotlet, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Band-backed Wren, and, the colorful Rufous-tailed Jacamar.

Choco Toucan 2The Endemic Choco Toucan inhabits the deep-green tropical forests of San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe. © Luis Alcivar

Aftermorning packed with new bird species we return to Milpe's lodge for lunch. After lunch, we record the last species from the observation deck before we return to San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito for dinner. 
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito.

DAY 8

Breakfast & transfer to Quito airport or to any hotel in Quito area.

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END OF ITINERARY