8 DAY BIRD PHOTO TOUR

OVERVIEW

Five glorious days to photograph the most dazzling bird species in Ecuador's imposing Andean valleys, mystical could forests and deep-green tropical forests. Be prepared to delve into Ecuador's most biologically-diverse bird photo 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

Bird Photo Yanacocha Reserve & San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito:
Our journey begins with a hot cup of Ecuadorian coffee in the festive "Cucayo" breakfast room at San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito. Rainbow bearded ThornbillAfter breakfast, we drive for 40 minutes to Yanacocha Reserve which runs through the Andean slopes of Pichincha Volcano. At this elevation, we will photograph several high-Andean hummingbird species such as the Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Golden-breasted Puffleg and Sapphire-vented Puffleg. Optional 1 mile trail photography to find the stunning Golden-crowned Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, Rufous Antpitta, Barred Fruiteater, and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. Yanachoca is also home to the critically endangered Black-breasted Puffleg which is casually observed. We return to San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito for lunch.

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

After lunch we head to the main hummingbird patio to set-up our first multiflash station. The hummingbird feeders at the lodge are visited by 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. Optional 0.5 mile trail photography around the lodge to look for 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, Red-crested Cotinga, and, the Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant. 
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito.

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

DAY 3

Birding San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa - Hummingbird Sanctuary:
After breakfast at our Quito lodge we drive for 1 hour to San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa Hummingbird Sanctuary located in the heart of Tandayapa Cloud Forest Reserve. Upon arrival, we begin shooting from 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.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 tailThe exotic Booted Racket-tails are commonly seen at San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa. © Luis Alcivar

After lunch at our open-air restaurant overlooking the impressive valley of Tandayapa, we set-up our second multi-flash station to get flight shots of the following hummingbirds: Western Emerald, Masked Trogon 4 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, White-necked Jacobin, Purple-throated Woodstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Green-crowned Woodnymph, and, the much sought-after Booted Racket-tail and Violet-tailed Sylph. In the late afternoon, optional 1 mile trail photography to look for 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. 
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa - Hummingbird Sanctuary.

Day 4

Andean Cock-of-the-rock LEK & Angel Paz Antpitta Feeding Station:
After breakfast at the lodge, we drive for 1 hour to the best Andean Cock-of-the-rock LEK hide in Ecuador (LEK: gathering of male birds that engage in competitive display).Giant Antpitta The Andean Cock-of-the-rock is without-a-doubt the most iconic and stunning bird species of Ecuador and from this hide, the cocks will be displaying and loudly calling at a distance of roughly 50 feet with birds occasionally flying much closer. After this unforgettable show, we will continue to Angel Paz's Antpitta Feeding Station where up to 5 (otherwise very rare and skulking) antpitta species can be closely photographed. Seasonally, all five species can be photographed including the Giant Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Moustached Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, and the Ochre-breasted Antpitta. At this same place, the Dark-backed Wood-Quail and the Rufous-breasted Antthrush also visit the bird feeders.

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

After Angel Paz we drive for 30 minutes to Old-Nono Mindo Road Hummingbird Feeding Station. Here we will set-up our our third multi-flash station for hummingbirds. This place will have a couple of new species icluding the Speckled hummingbird, Gorgeted Sunangel, Empress brilliant, Velvet purple Coronet, Brown Inca and, the elegant Collared Inca. The banana feeders at this place are also visited by the endemic Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan. After a delicious boxed lunch we return to San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa.
Overnight: San Jorge Eco-lodge Tandayapa.

Plate billed Mountain ToucanPlate-billed Mountain-Toucan © Luis Alcivar

Day 5

Pachijal Tanager Feeding Station & San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe Bird Sanctuary:
After breakfast, we drive for 1 hour to photograph several exquisite endemic bird species including the Glistening-green Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Orange breasted Fruiteater Moss-backed Tanager, Black-winged Saltator, and, the Buff-throated Saltator. We will also use the playback to try on other non-feeder species including the Black Solitaire, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, and the Club-winged Manakin. Hummingbirds feeders at this place are quite active for photography with natural light. After a morning packed with colorfull bird and hummingbird species we drive down to San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe for lunch.

Glistening green Tanager 2The Glistening-green Tanager is one of the highlights of Pachijal Bird Feeding Station

After lunch at our eco-lodge, we have set-up our third multi-flash station to capture several new hummingbird species including the Green-crowned Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, Stripe-throated Hermit, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Green Thorntail, and the endemic White-whiskered Hermit. The banana feeders are visited by the Pale-mandible Aracari, Green Honeycreeper, Silver-throated Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and seasonally the Chestnut-mandibled and the endemic Choco Toucan. 
Overnight San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe.

Day 6

Silanche Bird Feeders & Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe Bird Sanctuary:
After breakfast, we drive for 1 hour to Silanche Bird Feeders. At this brand new elevation, several stunning bird species will be available at the banana feeders including the Orange-crowned Euphonia, Dusky-faced Tanager, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Violaceous Trogon 3Silver-throated Tanager, and. the Golden-olive Woodpecker. The hummingbird feeders at this location are visited by the Green-breasted Mango, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Bronzy Hermit, and, ocassionally a Baron's Hermit and Purple-crowned Fairy. The forested area around the bird feeders are home to the Great Antshrike,Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Violaceous Trogon, Pacific Hornero, and, Orange-fronted Barbet which can be summoned with playback. We return for lunch at San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe.

Banded Ground Cuckoo LThe Banded Ground-cuckoo inhabits the lush forest of San Jorge Milpe. © George Cruz

After lunch at Milpe, we set-up our multi-flash station again to go over any missing species from the previous day due to time or weather conditions. At 3:00PM there will be optional trail photography to go after the Broad-billed Motmot, Golden-winged Manakin, Club-winged Manakin, Choco Trogon, and, with some luck, the Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Lanceolated Monklet, and, even, the Banded Ground-Cuckoo. For those not wanting to do trail photography, you may stay shooting hummingbirds at the multi-flash station.
Overnight San Jorge Eco-lodge Milpe.

Day 7

Umbrellabird LEK & Mirador Bird Feeders:
After breakfast, we drive for 1 hour to photograph one of the world's most bizzare birds species, the Long-wattled Umbrellabird. At this hide, birds will be displaying at a distance of approximately 165 feet (50 meters), with some luck birds will display and fly-by much closer.

Black cheeked WoodpecckerThe Black-cheecked Woodpecker is one of the highlights at Mirador Feeders.

After the umbrellabird we return to Milpe for lunch. After lunch we drive to Miradord Bird Feeders. This place is visited by several species like the Black-cheecked Woodpecker, Rufous Motmot, Toucan Barbet, Blue-capped Tanager, Dusky Bush-Tanager, Scrub Blackbird, Stripe-headed Sparrow and seasonally the stunning blue-necked Tanager.   
Overnight San Jorge Eco-lodge Quito.

DAY 8

Birding Antisana Ecological Park - Andean Condor Reservation
Once in the brink of extinction in Ecuador, the Andean Condor has now recovered thanks to several protected reserves like Antisana. After breakfast, we drive for 2 hours to this reserve with the Andean Condor as a main target  but with other fantastic bird species also in mind. We first photgraph the road that leads to the entrance to the Park where we will be greeted by very friendly Bar-winged Cinclodes and Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant. Ecuadorian HillstarWe will then make a stop by an observation deck which sits in front of the breeding cliffs to check for the Condors, if they are not active, we will return in the afternoon and check other places. This same place has a couple of hummingbird feeders which are visited by the Giant Hummingbird and the Great Sapphirewing. Once in the park, we will photograph along the road looking out for the Andean Lapwing, Black-faced Ibis, Paramo Pipit, Carunculated Caracara, Black-winged Ground-Dove, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Tawny Antpitta, and, with some luck an Aplomado Falcon,and the Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant. At around noon, we will have a boxed lunch in front of the 18,700 feet high snow-capped volcano to then drive to "La Mica" lagoon to check out for the Andean Ruddy-Duck, Andean Coot, Andean Teal, Silvery Grebe, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, and, casually, a Cinereous Harrier.

Andean Condor 2The enourmous Andean Condor is the main focus of our trip to Antisana © Luis Alcivar

After exploring the lagoon, we return to the Condor sightseer, they are noticeably more active in the afternoon if it is sunny. From here, we are also more likely to see other raptors like the Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and the Variable Hawk.
4:00PM: transfer to Quito airport or to any hotel in Quito area 

OR - TO CONTINUE WITH OUR 12 DAY TOUR  CLICK HERE

END OF ITINERARY