Wildlife watching tours - bird watching holidays -
culture tours for independent travellers and groups
Pale-mandibled Aracari © D Bridges
Toucan Barbet © K BarnesWhite-bellied Antpitta © K BarnesRufous-bellied Seedsnipe © D BridgesRufous-breasted Antthrush © K Barnes

Andes East and West Slope & Amazon (18 days) E128

Tour ref. no. E128
Duration: 17 nights (18 days taking into account flights which are payable directly)
Quito – Yanacocha – Bellavista – Angel Paz Reserve – Milpe – Rio Silanche – Quito – Antisana & Papallacta – Guango Lodge – San Isidro Lodge – Wildsumaco – Coca – Sacha – Coca - Quito
  • Experience Cloud Forest birding around Mindo for Toucan Barbet and other Toucan spp.
  • Antpittas and the breathtaking Andean Cock-of-the-rock at Angel Paz’s private reserve
  • Check out the Choco specials in Milpe, including the Club-winged Manakin
  • Andean Condors soaring over extinct volcanoes – your childhood dream?
  • High altitude gems from the cryptic Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe to tiny Ecuadorian Hillstar
  • Explore the Amazon at exclusive Sacha Lodge – Hoatzin, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw & more

Introduction

Fulfil your childhood dream of watching an Andean Condor soaring on thermals in the Andes and more besides!  This tour provides an excellent chance of seeing one of the world’s largest flying birds at Antisana and around Papallacta Pass, so fingers crossed!  There are plenty of other Andean delights – several species of Antpitta including White-bellied, stunning Golden-collared Honeycreepers, Carunculated Caracaras, two species of Quetzal.  Around the lodges there is so much to see, including San Isidro Owl, and the mammal list is impressive too – Kinkajou, Black Agouti, MargayMountain Tapir and Giant Anteater all feature, but the latter three species require a lot of luck to see.

Finish in the Amazon Rainforest and shock your senses – the odour of Red Howlers in the canopy, turquoise Spangled Cotingas and powder- blue Morpho butterflies flitting along the creeks beside your dugout canoe give a flavour of what Amazonia offers

  • Experience Cloud Forest life along Upper Tandayapa Valley
  • Relax at Bellavista and El Septimo Paraiso Lodges and enjoy close encounters with stunning species including Toucan Barbet and Plate-billed Mountain Toucan
  • Antpittas and the breathtaking Andean Cock-of-the-rock at Angel Paz’s private reserve
  • Check out the Choco specials in Milpe, including the majestic Choco Toucan
  • Andean Condors soaring over extinct volcanoes – your childhood dream?
  • Wacky Sword-billed Hummingbird, striking Blue-mantled Thornbill & Gould’s Jewelfront
  • High altitude gems – Ecuadorian Hillstar, Black-faced Ibis & Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe
  • Sample Sumaco’s delights – White-crowned Manakin, Military Macaw and many stunning Tanagers
  • San Isidro Owl – the high elevation form of Black-banded Owl and possibly a new species?
  • Explore the Ecuadorian Amazon by dugout canoe for up-close and personal views of spectacular species including Black Caiman and Hoatzin
  • Get to know our cousins through encounters with a range of primates including the beautiful Night Monkey and stunning Golden-mantled Tamarin

There are many ways to extend this tour, so please contact us for details

Itinerary and price

Please note that due to weather conditions and other local considerations the following itinerary might need to be revised or re-ordered at short notice to maximise on the best birding opportunities. 

If the price is too expensive we can look at changing a lodge or two and exploring the West slope on a shared guide basis.

Day 1: Flight to Quito to be organised by you.

For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can complete the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Meals: Payable directly today

Your flight arrives in Quito today.  For help with your flight arrangements and to receive a no obligation quote, you can email wildabouttravel@flightcentre.co.uk, use the enquiry form on our website or call 0800 280 8947 to speak to a flight advisor at Gapyear.com, part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, a leading retailer of airfares and worldwide flights.

Our driver will be outside Quito airport to receive you (look for your names on a placard) and transfer you to Hotel Sebastian.  Relax for the remainder of the day. Dinner is payable directly this evening.

Note: Quito is located at high altitude in the Andes, almost 3,000m.  To avoid any symptoms of altitude sickness and prepare for the following day we advise as early a night as possible with plenty of sleep AND avoid alcohol until you reach lower elevations.

Day 2: Quito – Yanacocha - Bellavista

Meals: Breakfast at Hotel Sebastian, lunch (at Alambi or Bellavista) and dinner at Bellavista

After breakfast at 0700 hours you will check out of your rooms.  Our experienced guide will arrive by 0715 hours and accompany you till your final day of the west slope experience (the day you return to Quito).

It is a short drive along the famous Nono-Mindo eco road to the first birding destination – Yanachocha at 3,400m on the slopes of Volcan Pichincha.  You’ll look for Golden (Yellow) Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted (Rufous-naped) Brush Finch, Green-tailed Trainbearer and Sparkling Violetear plus many other species on the way and you may hear an Antpitta or two, so it might take you a while to get there!

Yanacocha is just to the north west of Quito.  Managed by the Fundación Jocotoco it was established in 2001.  This area of high elevation cloud-forest is home to almost the entire known world population of the critically endangered Black-breasted Puffleg hummingbird.    The habitat is mainly high altitude Polylepis forest, less common now in the Andes due to agriculture and production of charcoal.

As you arrive at Yanacocha, listen and look for Ocellated Tapaculo around the car park.  This and Rufous Antpitta are easier to hear than to see.  From the entrance you will walk the old Inca trail through cloud forest habitat.  Expect to see many species of hummingbird at numerous feeders along the route.  The main star species is the endemic Black-breasted Puffleg which is very difficult to see, so not guaranteed.  Many other species of hummingbird occur here, including Sword-billed Hummingbird, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam and Great Sapphirewing, all of which can be seen at close quarters when they visit feeders by the track-side along with other common species like Masked Flowerpiercer.  Several species of Tanager occur here too and hopefully Scarlet-bellied and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers might be added to the list.

Other sought-after species are Curve-billed TinamouCarunculated Caracara, Imperial Snipe, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill and Giant Conebill but these can be tricky to see.  You may have a chance of seeing Andean Condor, but don’t worry if you don’t, as you’ll have another chance on the East side of the Andes at Antisana and Papallacta.

From here you may be taken to Alambi on the way to Bellavista and have lunch here, or at Bellavista itself.  Either way lunch is included today.  The hummingbird and tanager feeding stations are great for photography.

Eventually today you will arrive at Bellavista and if time permits you’ll explore local trails and even birding along the road here is very productive. Relax for the evening.
Night at Bellavista Lodge in private room with own bathroom

Day 3: Bellavista and the Tandayapa Valley area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today we’ll explore the Bellavista trails and local area at the top of the Tandayapa Valley for many Choco region endemics.  Some of the special species might include Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Beautiful Jay, Tanager Finch, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals.  You could see Sickle-winged Guan, Grass-green Tanager, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Gorgeted Sunangel and Red-billed Parrot.  Here too you have another opportunity to look for Ocellated and also Spillmann’s Tapaculos.  At some time or another it would be worth having a coffee or a beer (payable directly) at one or two of the local lodges which have good bird feeding areas – particularly if it starts to rain after lunch, which can be a regular occurrence in the cloud forest. You can often see 10 species of hummingbirds visiting the feeders at once and up to 20 species or so within one hour.
Night at Bellavista Lodge in private room with own bathroom

Day 4: Bellavista - Angel Paz Reserve - Bellavista

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today requires a very early start as we’ll visit Angel Paz’s private forest reserve, well known for the owner offering juicy worms to entice out some cracking species that are usually difficult to see – Giant, Yellow-breasted, Ochre-breasted and Moustached Antpittas.  It isn’t just the antpittas, though, as this diverse forest is home to Dark-backed Wood-Quail (a vulnerable Choco endemic), Scaled and Orange-breasted Fruiteaters and Olivaceous Piha plus many other species including an opportunity to see Andean Cock-of-the-rock.

We may add Laughing and Bat Falcons, Barred Forest-Falcon, White-throated Crake, Double-toothed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruddy and Plumbeous PigeonsRed-headed Barbet, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Broad-billed Motmot, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, White-collared Swift and Velvet-purple Coronet.

Leaving Angel Paz we will spend the day locally exploring lowland forest areas, heading back to Bellavista where you can relax for the evening.  Note: You will need to pack as you’ll check out of your room first thing in the morning.
Night at Bellavista Lodge in private room with own bathroom

Day 5: Bellavista - Milpe - Mindo

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

We have allocated the whole day to be spent at Milpe or in the Milpe area.  Fingers crossed we should see Club-winged Manakin as they lek here, and also hope for Choco Toucan, Choco Trogon, Choco Warbler, White-whiskered Hermit, Rufous-throated and Moss-backed Tanagers – all are Choco endemics.  Long-wattled Umbrellabird and Golden-winged Manakin occur too, but are more difficult to see.  Easier to come across are Bronze-winged Parrot, Smooth-billed Ani, Ornate Flycatcher, Slate-throated Whitestart, Ecuadorian Thrush and Orange-billed Sparrow.  If weather dictates, there is a restaurant close by with very good fruit feeders outside the windows. You are sure to have an amazing day at Milpe which you will explore to the full.  Returning to the Mindo area you’ll check in at El Septimo Paraiso Lodge for a two night stay.  Previous clients saw Tayra from the grounds and the forest trails here are productive too.

Day 6: Mindo area – Rio Silanche (and Oilbird cave) – Mindo area

Meals: Breakfast, box or cooked lunch and dinner

Today we will leave early and drive approx. 1 ½ – 2 hours to Rio Silanche. It is run by the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation and has an extensive bird list.  Here your guide will help you search for Pacific Parrotlet and Pacific Hornero (both are Tumbesian endemics), Orange-fronted Barbet, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Grey-and-gold, Blue-whiskered, Ochre-breasted and Scarlet-browed Tanagers (all Choco endemics) and many other species that are easier to see like White-bearded Manakin, Squirrel Cuckoo, Rufous-tailed and Purple-chested Hummingbirds, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Masked Tityra, Yellow-tufted Dacnis and some more tanagers including Silver-throated, Blue-necked and Golden-hooded.  Return to El Septimo Paraiso late in the afternoon having visited an Oilbird cave on the journey.

Day 7: Mindo area - Quito

Breakfast and lunch

Your guide will discuss with you the best areas to visit today, based on the species left to see and your guide will accompany you back to Quito where you’ll say your farewells, as another guide will accompany you down the Andean East slope.  Check in at your hotel.
Night at Hotel Sebastian or Hotel San Carlos de Tababela.

Day 8: Quito – Antisana – Papallacta and Guango Lodge

Meals: Breakfast in Quito, lunch and dinner

Today we recommend an early breakfast. For these next few days we’ll be exploring the East slope of the Andes for birds and mammals.  You’ll encounter some species common with the North West slope and others that are only found at high altitude or on the East slope. We recommend breakfast at 0600 hours, then leave the hotel by 0630 hours with your guide.  The drive to Antisana is approx. 1 ½ hours + stops.  We will stop as and when required on the journey to look for species which may include Giant Hummingbird and Aplomado Falcon.  Other target species include Andean Condor, Andean (Black-faced) Ibis, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Carunculated Caracara, Silvery Grebe, Andean Ruddy Duck, Andean Teal, Andean Lapwing, Streak-backed Canastero, Chestnut-winged (Bar-winged) and Stout-billed Cinclodes.  Sometimes Culpeo (Andean Fox) is seen here. The plan will be to spend the morning around Antisana and have lunch here.

From Antisana you’ll head to Papallacta (another 1 ½ hour drive) and do some birding here, or at lower elevations if the altitude and weather conditions dictate.  It will be another 45 minute drive to Guango Lodge, your base for two nights, and the plan will be to arrive around 1700 hours and dinner is usually at 1900 hours.  At Papallacta there’s a slim chance to see both Mountain Tapir and Spectacled Bear, though both are very difficult.
Night at Guango Lodge

Day 9: Guango area (inc. time at Papallacta if required)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch or boxed lunch from Guango Lodge and dinner

We recommend breakfast at 0530 or 0600 hours. Based from Guango Lodge you’ll have plenty to look out for.  Target species include Torrent Duck, Andean Guan, many hummingbirds including Sword-billed, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Dusky Piha, White-capped Dipper, Blue-backed Conebill, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Grey-hooded Bush-Tanager, Black-capped Hemispingus, Plushcap, (Northern) Mountain Cacique, Pale-naped and Slaty Brush-Finches.
If you didn’t see your target species at Papallacta the day before, then you may try again today.  Targets in this area include Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Viridian Metaltail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Tawny Antpitta, Red-crested Cotinga, Giant Conebill, Golden-crowned Tanager, Masked Mountain-Tanager, Black-chested Mountain-Tanager and Black-backed Bush-Tanager.
Night at Guango Lodge.

Day 10: Guango - San Isidro

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today we’ll leave for San Isidro Lodge, a journey of approximately 1 ½ hours.  Another early breakfast is proposed (0530 – 0600 hours) but the start time to San Isidro can be a little flexible, depending on how the bird list is going.  Target species in the San Isidro area include Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Wattled Guan, Black-banded (“San Isidro”) Owl, Rufous-banded Owl, another chance for Andean Potoo, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Oilbird, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Andean (Highland) Motmot, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Powerful Woodpecker, Streak-headed (Long-tailed) Antbird, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, White-bellied Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Black-billed Peppershrike, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Flame-faced Tanager, White-capped Tanager and Subtropical Cacique.  Mammals we will look out for include Black Agouti, possible Mountain Tapir, Kinkajou and the very rare Giant Anteater. Night at San Isidro Lodge.  Note: At night we have a chance of seeing the San Isidro Owl, which is a high elevation form of Black-banded Owl and possibly a new species or subspecies.  They often sit in the lodge grounds and are normally fairly easy to find.

Day 11: San Isidro - Guacamoyos - Wildsumaco

Meals: Breakfast, box lunch and dinner

Again breakfast is recommended for 0530 – 0600 hours then you’ll check out of San Isidro Lodge and journey to Wildsumaco. Just a 30 minute drive from San Isidro is Guacamayos where target species include White-throated Screech-Owl, Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Flammulated Treehunter, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Greater Scythebill (very rare), Barred Antthrush, Ocellated Tapaculo, Handsome Flycatcher, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Black-chested Fruiteater, Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer, Chestnut-bellied Thrush, Vermilion Tanager, Blue-browed Tanager, Rufous-crested Tanager and Grass-green Tanager. Lunch can be wherever you please but is likely to be at Guacamayos.  In the afternoon you will do roadside birding on the way to Wildsumaco Lodge, your base for three nights, then relax for the rest of the evening.  You can expect to arrive by 1700 hours and have dinner around 1830 hours.
Night at Wildsumaco Lodge

Day 12: Wildsumaco area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Breakfast at 0530 – 0600 hours.  Yet again we’ll have a great time exploring another ecologically diverse area for birds and mammals. Today we will bird the Antpitta trail in the morning where two species of Antpitta are possible, Plain-backed and Ochre-breasted.  In the afternoon spending time around the lodge and checking the hummingbird feeders would be well worth while.  After dinner at 1830 we will make time to specifically look for mammals and owls from Wildsumaco by taking a night walk and actively searching with a high-powered torch for a chance on Margay, Opossums, Kinkajou and Night monkey.  Target species for Wildsumaco include Black Hawk-Eagle, several species of Forest-Falcons, Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Blackish Rail, Scaled Pigeon, Military Macaw, Spot-winged Parrotlet, Vermiculated (Foothill) Screech-Owl, Rufescent Screech-Owl, Band-bellied Owl, many, many hummingbirds (too many to mention), Coppery-chested Jacamar, Black-streaked Puffbird, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Golden-collared Toucanet, Black-mandibled Toucan, Rufous-breasted and Lafresnaye’s Piculet, Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Black-billed Treehunter, Red-billed Scythebill, Lined Antshrike, Russet Antshrike, White-streaked Antvireo, Foothill Antwren, Plain-winged Antwren, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Blackish Antbird, White-backed Fire-eye, Short-tailed Antthrush, Plain-backed Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, a lot of flycatchers (too many to list but including Yellow-throated Spadebill), Scarlet-breasted and Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Gray-tailed Piha, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Gray-mantled Wren, Musician Wren, Wing-banded Wren, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Bronze-green Euphonia, Orange-eared Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Fulvous Shrike-Tanager, Olive Finch, Blue-rumped and White-crowned Manakin.
Night at Wildsumaco Lodge

Day 13: Wildsumaco area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Expect breakfast around the same time.  In the mornings and afternoons you can explore various trails including the F.A.C.E trail and Benavides Trail with dinner around 1830 hours.  At the end of  this evening you will say goodbye to your East slope guide, as the transfer tomorrow will be with your driver only.
Night at Wildsumaco Lodge

Day 14: Wildsumaco – Coca – Sacha

Meals: Breakfast at Wildsumaco, packed lunch provided by Sacha Lodge at La Mision and dinner at Sacha Lodge

You may have a little time before breakfast to explore locally around the lodge (without guide today).  Then you will leave Wildsummaco Lodge for the 2 hour drive (allowing time for delays) to Coca to arrive at La Mision Port in Coca at 1100 hours without fail.  Other Sacha guests arriving in Coca on a flight from Quito will arrive at La Mision Port and from here you’ll meet your Sacha Lodge representative who will guide you to where you’ll board a high-powered motorised canoe and your journey along the Napo River will begin, followed by a short stroll along a boardwalk and the final part of the journey by dugout canoe.  If you are lucky Red Howler Monkey, Great or Common Potoo and Hoatzin may put in an appearance before you reach Sacha Lodge!  Your luggage will arrive as if by magic at the lodge and staff will explain the plan for the next few days, you’ll check-in to your cabins and meet your guide for a late afternoon journey by dugout canoe along some of the Amazonian channels.

Days 15, 16 and 17: Sacha area

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

The wildlife around Sacha is extremely diverse and experienced guides will help point out many characteristic species of the area.  Over these days explore trails on foot, channels by dugout canoe, birdwatch from the top of a canopy tower and walk through the tree tops along the impressive canopy walkway.  We are likely to see Many-banded Aracari, Spangled Cotingas, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Golden-collared Toucanet, Green-and-Gold and Opal-rumped Tanagers at eye level from the canopy walkway and towers.  On forest walks mammals may include Squirrel Monkey, Pygmy Marmoset, White-fronted Capuchin and Night Monkey.  Nights at Sacha Lodge.  At some point during these three days you will visit the parrot clay licks at Yasuni National Park where you will need to pay the entrance fee of approx. $22 per person directly.

Day 18: Sacha – Coca – Quito

Meals: Breakfast

Today you journey back to Coca and Quito from Sacha Lodge (time and flight details to be supplied), returning the way you arrived via the channels, boardwalk, Napo River and a flight departing Coca for Quito.

Tours ends.

Note: You can if you wish extend your experience in the Amazon rainforest with a stay at Napo Wildlife Centre.  Please enquire and we can supply a supplement.

Extra note: If you require an extra night in Quito to link with your international flight please enquire and we can provide a supplement.

Price per person valid from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017:
Based on two travelling on a twin share basis: US $ 7065
Based on three travelling on a twin share basis: US $ 5965
Based on four travelling on a twin share basis: US $ 5530
Single supplement US $ 950

2018: 
Based on two travelling on a twin share basis: US $ 7105
Based on three travelling on a twin share basis: US $ 6005
Based on four travelling on a twin share basis: US $ 5565
Single supplement US $ 950

Price includes:
Accommodation as specified
All land transfers for the duration
Meals as mentioned above
All entrance fees to sanctuaries for the whole tour (except Yasuni in the Amazon which is payable directly)
Bird checklist, pre-travel and top tips for travel advice
And for the West slope…
Services of an experienced guide on an exclusive basis
And for the East slope…
Services of an experienced guide on an exclusive basis
And for the Amazon…
All land/boat transfers
Experienced bilingual naturalist guide at Sacha Lodge and a native guide (max. group size is usually 6 at Sacha)

Price excludes:
International flight
Internal flight from Coca – Quito  (approx. US $ 100 per person)
Yasuni entrance fee when you visit the parrot clay licks (approx. US $22 per person)
Travel insurance
All drinks. You may need to purchase the odd tea/coffee/beer every now and again at establishments with excellent veranda/restaurant bird feeding stations
Tips
Phone calls, laundry and anything else of personal nature

How to book

The booking of this itinerary is with Wild About Travel Limited and our booking terms and conditions apply. In order to protect your payments we operate a trust account in accordance with the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

Please contact Jo Thomas at Wild About Travel (jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk) / 01480-370593 to register your interest and request a booking form.

To confirm your booking please complete the booking form and send a 25% deposit by £ sterling cheque * payable to Wild About Travel Trust to the Wild About Travel Office, 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambs PE29 1YG. The balance payment would be due 40 - 60 days (to be confirmed at the time of booking) prior to your travel dates.

* Note: Where a price is given in another currency you can pay in £ sterling. We will use the Lloyds Bank exchange rate at the time of making the deposit payment and the balance payment to convert the figure to £. If you would prefer to make a payment by internet banking please let us know and we can supply you with the bank details.

Flights

We can advise on appropriate flights and timings that you may wish to book, but we do not organise or arrange flights on our customers’ behalf. You will need to make your own flight arrangements directly with a flight retailer or the airline concerned; we recommend StudentUniverse (in partnership with Gapyear.com), part of Flight Centre Travel Group. They can be contacted by completing the online enquiry form or you can call 0800 280 8947 to speak to one of their flight advisors.

For any help or advice please call or email Wild About Travel and we would be happy to assist.
Tel: +44 (0)1480 370593 Mobile: +44 (0)7817 574235
Email: jo@wildabouttravel.co.uk
Wild About Travel Limited is a company registered in England and Wales.
Reg. no. 5522066. Registered Office: 25 Sapley Road, Hartford, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 1YG, UK

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