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The finest Antpitta Tour of them all!

The Yanacocha Reserve lies on the northwest flank of Volcán Pichincha at ca. 3200-3400 m above sea level and is known for being the home of a critically endangered hummingbird, the Black-breasted Puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis). Along the trails visitors can obtain point-blank views of many bird species including Sword-billed Hummingbird and the spectacular Great Saphirewing, two other species of puffleg (Sapphire-vented and Golden-breasted) and a couple species of flowerpiercers (e.g., Glossy and Masked). Many other birds besides hummingbirds are also to be seen, with mixed species flocks dominated by various tanagers including spectacular mountain tanagers (Hooded, Scarlet-bellied, Black-chested, and Buff-breasted), Barred Fruiteater, Pearled Treerunner and many others. Pairs and family group of notably tame Andean Guans are also regular. The Paz de las Antpittas Reserve is a unique place where you can experience a man calling out 3 species of antpitta, which he does using their individual names. Maria is a Giant Antpitta, Willy and Esmeraldas are Yellow-breasted Antpittas, and there are also Moustached Antpittas. But there are other special birds to see here besides the antpittas. It is probable that the first birds seen will be at the amazing Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek,. Beautiful Jays, while uncommon, are sometimes seen too. At the hummingbird feeders, White-bellied Woodstar and Purple-bibbed Whitetip can sometimes be seen. Other exotic birds that can often be seen are Toucan Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Sickle-winged Guan, a Black-chinned Mountain Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain Tanager.

Jorupe Reserve protects an important and high quality example of Tumbesian dry forest. This area of Ecuador has some of the highest concentrations of endemic and restricted-range species in the world. Many of these species are highly threatened. To date nearly 190 species of birds have been found in the Jorupe reserve, including almost all of the dry forest endemics of the Tumbesian region within Ecuador, including Pale-browed Tinamou, Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Slaty Becard, Grey-breasted Flycatcher, Elegant Crescentchest, Blackish-headed Spinetail, Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, White-tailed Jays, Watkins' Antpitta, Black-capped Sparrow, and White-edged Oriole. Of these, there are 15 globally threatened and near-threatened species. Utuana Reserve was established to protect one of the last remnants of humid highland forest in southwestern Ecuador. It hosts several bird species that have highly restricted ranges. To date, about 110 bird species have been found at Utuana. The reserve is of particular importance for the conservation of certain montane Tumbesian endemics, notably the Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Grey-headed Antbird, Jelski's Chat-Tyrant, Piura Hemispingus, Bay-crowned Brushfinch, and Black-cowled Saltator. Of interest is also the presence of certain typically high Andean bird species such as the Undulated Antpitta, and there are exceptionally high populations of the Rainbow Starfrontlet and Purple-throated Sunangel.

Tapichalaca reserve was established to protect the type locality of the Jocotoco Antpitta. Tapichalaca, like Podocarpus National Park, lies in a region of exceptional species richness combined with an equally important proportion of endemic species. The forests here are home to a tremendous variety of Andean bird species, with more than 300 occurring regularly on or immediately adjacent to the reserve. Perhaps most notable are the tanagers found here – there is perhaps no place in the world with a higher density of the gaudy, jay-like White-capped Tanager – and the hummingbirds, with dozens of individuals constantly zooming around the feeders that are set out for them. Thirteen bird species considered to be globally threatened or near-threatened are present in the reserve. Threatened species are the Jocotoco Antpitta, Golden-plumed Parakeet, White-breasted Parakeet, Bearded Guan, and Coppery-chested Jacamar. The near-threatened species are Imperial Snipe, Masked Mountain Tanager, Peruvian Antpitta, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Greater Scythebill, Neblina Metaltail, Orange-banded Flycatcher, and Masked Saltator.

All birders know the difficulty and frustration of trying to actually see antpittas, a group of notoriously hidden birds that are more often heard than seen! So challenging is this endeavor that most birders are thrilled simply to get a glimpse of one of these elusive birds as it scurries across the trail! So we decided to design a special tour that will focus on seeing (yes, seeing) as many of these near-mythical creatures as possible!

ITINERARY

Day 01 Arrival in Quito

Arrival in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which lies at 2.800m altitude above sea level. We meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Accommodation in Quito.

Day 02 Yanacocha Reserve

After an early breakfast in your hotel, then depart for Yanacocha Reserve we head toward the Yanacocha Ecological Reserve located on the North side of Volcano Guagua Pichincha at 3600m/11,483 feet. The Yanacocha Ecological Reserve is famous for its high-elevation specialties; we will spend the morning searching for Rufous, Undulated, and Tawny Antpittas, in addition to perusing the mixed flocks and hummingbird feeders. We hope to see our "mascot", the Sword-billed Hummingbird, in addition to the highly endemic and endangered Black-breasted Puffleg. The afternoon will be spent birding the Old Nono Mindo Road. This road offers spectacular views of the forest and excellent birding, with the possibility of spotting sought-after birds such as Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. Accommodation in Mindo.

Day 3 Paz de las Antpittas Reserve

Early this morning we will visit the Paz de las Antpittas Reserve, where we will first enjoy Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks at their lek, then proceed to a special feeding area where we hope to have "up close and personal" encounters with "Maria" the Giant Antpitta, "Willie" the Yellow-breasted Antpitta, and "Susan" the Moustached Antpitta! Depending on the weather, we will also try to meet "Shakira" the Orchre-breasted Antpitta! After breakfast we will search for Scaled and Orange-breasted Fruiteaters, and if for some reason these special birds remain elusive, there is another nearby reserve we can check before driving back to Quito in the afternoon. Accommodation in Quito.

Day 4 Jorupe Reserve

After a short flight to Loja, we will drive to the Jorupe Reserve and lodge, located near the town of Macara. Here we will look for Watkin's Antpitta, as well as other tumbesian species such as Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, White-tailed Jay, and Gray-breasted Flycatcher. Accommodation at Jorupe Reserve.

Day 5 Utuana Reserve

On our way to the Tapichalaca Reserve, we will stop at the Utuana Reserve to look for Black-crested Tit-tyrant, Chapman's Antshrike, Gray-headed Antbird, Rainbow Starfrontlet, and Purple-throated Sunangel. After a rewarding morning of birding we will arrive at Tapichalaca Reserve, home of the coveted Jocotoco Antpitta. Accommodation at Casa Simpsom.

Day 6 Tapichalaca Reserve

After breakfast we will enjoy watching Jocotoco and Chestnut-naped Antpittas enjoying their breakfast at a special feeding area, after which we will spend the rest of the morning birding the trails around the reserve. After lunch we will road-bird on the way to the town of Valladolid, searching for maranon endemics Marañon Thrush, Black faced Tanager, Rufous fronted Thorbird. Accommodation at Tapichalaca.

Day 7 Birding in Loja

Today we will be birding our way back to Loja. On the way we hope to see Black and chestnut Eagle. From Loja (Catamayo) we will take our flight back to Quito. Accommodation in Quito.

Day 08 Transfer out or Extension

According to your international flight times we will accompany you in a transfer to Mariscal Sucre airport to take your flight home.

Please note that this tour may be combined with an extension tour to the Amazon Basin or the Galapagos Islands before or after the tour.


Prices 2017 per person (minimum 02 people)
In a double room: US$ 1402,- per person
Single room supplement: US$ 142,-

Tour prices include: all transfers in private transportation, excursions and overland tours as mentioned above accompanied by a specialist bilingual guide (English/Spanish – other languages upon request only), flight Quito – Loja – Quito, accommodation based on double rooms, meals outside Quito, and entrance fees to all reserves visited.

Tour prices do not include: international airport taxes (Quito ca. US$ 43 per person; ca. Guayaquil US$ 28), personal equipment and items, travel insurance, extra charge for single rooms, tips, personal expenses, beverages, meals in Quito, anything not mentioned in the program.


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