Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Arrival at the UIO International Airport, where a representative of Bird Paradise Tours will welcome you and take you the Zaysant Ecolodge. There you can rest from your flight and enjoy a nice dinner. If you arrive in time, you can see some great birds around the garden.
Day 2: Yanacocha & Septimo Paraiso
Start your grand adventure with a visit to Yanachocha Reserve, situated on the slope of Quito's proximate volcano – Volcan Pichincha. Here we walk a trail with fabulous mountain views. Preserve biologists have set up a series of feeders to entice a variety of hummingbirds in to viewing areas. Look for the Golden-breasted Puffleg, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Shining Sunbeam and Giant Hummingbird.
The rare Black-breasted Puffleg is known to breed on the reserve and with some luck, you may catch a glimpse of this small beauty. In small patches of Polylepis forest, you may find the Tufted Tit-tyrant, Blue-backed Conebill, Superciliaried Hemispingus or one of the colorful mountain-tanagers. We walk gently at a height of 10,000 ft., and then continue our drive through the old Nono-Mindo road towards Séptimo Paraíso where you will spend the following nights.
Séptimo Paraíso Cloud Forest Reserve is a private natural reserve, where we will see visit hummingbird feeders that close up views to these birds, as well as a colorful tanagers. The forest and gardens are draped with orchids and bromeliads, and butterflies are abundant. Some of the most beautiful birds of the forest include White tailed Hillstar, Toucan Barbet, Golden Tanager, and Flame-faced Tanager.
Day 3: Milpe
This day we go a bit lower in elevation in search of different species, at one of the delightful private reserves run by the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation. Here we can look for some endemic species of the Choco region such as the Choco Toucan, Choco Trogon and the fascinating Club-winged Manakin.
Milpe is recognized as an Important Bird Area in Ecuador. It is a small reserve, and perhaps the best place to find three lovely and very local species of tanagers: Ochre-breasted, White-shouldered and Honeycreeper. We will go back to the hotel for lunch, and then we head to the Santadeo Birding Garden. There we will have the opportunity to see more colorful tanagers and lots of hummingbirds. Dinner will be served at the hotel, where you will spend the night.
Day 4: Cock of the Rock & Antpittas
This morning we wake up very early to be out at dawn at the farm of Angel Paz, which has become famous for providing great views of Giant, Yellow-breasted and Mustached Antpittas, as well as the Andean Cock of the Rock that displays from the forest’s lek sites. There we will walk into the lush forest and then back up to a clearing area where we can relax over breakfast. Next to the eating table we will also have the opportunity to look at colorful mountain toucans and mountain tanagers. After noon we will return to the lodge, and in the afternoon we will go to visit the feeders at Alambi Reserve.
Day 5: Silanche
This day we visit the Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, where we will look for species like the Plumbeous Forest-falcon, Dusky Pigeon, Rose-faced and Bronzed-winged Parrots, Pale-mandibled Aracari and Choco Woodpecker. This new and very small (200 acres), but important reserve, hosts a mix of primary forest and a regenerating plantation. Here you will have access to a 50 ft. canopy tower platform, where you can relax and let the birds come into view – it's hard to rip yourself away! By nightfall, return to your most comfortable accommodations and enjoy an excellent dinner at Séptimo Paraíso.
Day 6: Mindo Valley & Birdwatchers House
One can be busy for weeks in the Mindo area, searching for birds of the western cordillera of the Andes. This day, your expert guide will weave the best plan to see key species of the area. Perhaps you will start at the famous streetlight, close to our lodge, where the Rufous Motmot likes to hang out. Within just a few hundred yards of the lodge one can often find mixed flocks of tanagers representing every color of the rainbow.
Return for a delicious breakfast and take time to admire the many species of hummingbirds at the feeders. From various viewing areas you might observe hummingbirds such as Fawn-breasted Brilliants, White-whiskered Hermits, Purple-bibbed Whitetips, Velvet-purple Coronets, Brown Violetears, Empress Brilliants, Hoary Puffleg and the adorable Booted Racket-tails. Then, drive out to surrounding areas in search of raptors, guans, jays and other species. In the afternoon you may want to relax at a local coffee shop known for its excellent feeders and hummingbird gardens. Dinner will be back at this lovely lodge. Sitting by the fireplace, record your daily sightings with input from your guide.
Day 7: Amagusa Reserve & Guango
This day we wake up very early to do the check out and begin our journey to the Amagusa Ecological Reserve. There we will have the opportunity to photograph colorful birds like the Glistening-green Tanager, Empress Brilliant, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Flame-faced Tanager, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, and Moss-backed Tanager. After a pleasant experience in Amagusa, we drive back to Quito and take the route to Guango Lodge, where we will spend the night and enjoy a great dinner.
Day 8: Guango & San Isidro
This morning we will have the opportunity to photograph some species of hummingbirds and antpittas in the gardens of the Lodge, and around the trails we will see wonderful colored mountain birds and jays. We will enjoy breakfast at the lodge, and continue our birding along the Guango River, looking for the Torrent Duck. We will have lunch at the lodge and depart to San Isidro, where we will spend the night and have a nice dinner.
Day 9: San Isidro
San Isidro is a place to enjoy the beauty of Ecuador's cloud forest, while you spot magical species such as Golden-headed Quetzals, Masked Trogons and Green-and-black Fruiteaters. On this side of the Andes, you are perched on the headwaters of the Amazon basin. The lodge and immediate surroundings boast a bird list of about 310 species, many of which are more easily found here than anywhere else in the country. On one of your days, you will drive down the east side of the Andes to explore a canyon at a lower elevation where you will find additional species.
The lodge has several feeding stations and a mix of trails and quiet back roads for you to explore in detail. Look for night birds, including what may turn out to be a new species of owl, closely related to the Black-banded Owl.
Day 10: San Isidro & WildSumaco
This day we will be birding around the lodge and have the opportunity to photograph the White-bellied Antpitta, and others around the area. After lunch we drive to WildSumaco through a road that winds out of Quito, moving southeast across the Papallacta Pass, and over and through the Andes' beautiful eastern foothills. From this road the cone of a volcano can sometimes be seen rising to 3730 meters (12,250 feet) through the misty distance of the east. It is called Sumaco, and the volcano and its surroundings have been declared a National Park.
The area is located at a comfortable elevation of about 1480m (4900 feet) and the forest reserve ranges from 1200 to about 1600m (3900 to 4900 feet). It holds one of the richest bird faunas in the world, with a mix of cloud forest species, foothill specialties, and typically Amazonian birds.
Day 11: WildSumaco
This day we will enjoy birding in WildSumaco, and spot species like the Snail Kite, Barred-forest Falcon, Napo Sabrewing, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Black-tailed Trogon, and lots of hummingbirds, parrots and macaws.
Day 12: WildSumaco & Guango
After spending the night in this beautiful area, we continue to enjoy birding in WildSumaco to find more species like parrots and macaws. Afterwards we will return to Guango Lodge where we will spend the night.
Day 13: Papallacta & Zayzant Ecolodge
This day we head to the Papallacta area, where we will observe species like the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Many-striped Canestero, Variable Hawk and Stout-billed Cincloides. We head back to the Zaysant hotel to spend the night.
Day 14: Antisana
This day will be our last day of birding, and we will spend it in the high of the mountain. We will drive for one hour to the place where there we will see bird like the Andean Condor, Black-faced Ibis, Carunculated Caracara and much more.
Day 15: End the Tour