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Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe to Rufous Potoo:
An Exploration of the High Andes, the East Slope and the Amazon Basin

The Antisana Ecological Reserve is a great place to observe the Andean condor as well as the Ecuadorian Hummingbird. Other birds that are easy to spot are the Carunculated Cara-Cara, the Black headed Ibis and the Andean Gull but with a little bit of luck one can also spot Aplomado Falcon, Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Snipe, Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Blue-Mantled Thornbill, Glowing Puffleg, Many-Striped Canastero, Stout-Billed Cinclodes, Tawny Antpitta, Paramo Ground-Tyrant, Brown-Backed Chat-Tyrant, Red-Crested Cotinga, Grass Wren and Black-Backed Bush-Tanager.

Guango Lodge lies at an elevation of 2,700 m.a.s.l. on the eastern Andean slope. This area is centered in a zone classified as humid temperate forest. Some of the birds that are seen regularly at Guango Lodge include Andean Guan, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Turquoise Jay, Scarlet-bellied, Lacrimose, Buff-breasted and Hooded Mountain-Tanagers, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, Black-headed, Black-capped and Black-eared Hemispingus and Slaty Bursh-Finch. Guango Lodge's hummingbird feeders here attract some exciting hummers on a regular basis, including species like Mountain Velvetbreast, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Golden-breasted and Glowing Pufflegs, Mountain Avocetbill, and White-bellied and Gorgeted Woodstars.

Cabañas San Isidro and its immediate surroundings now boast a bird list of about 310 species. San Isidro Lodge is situated at about 2050 meters above sea level, but the trails lead through habitats from 2,400 meters all the way down to 1,850 meters providing birders is an ideal opportunity to observe Andean birds from the lower reaches of the temperate zone down into the heart of the subtropical zone. Birds such as Highland Tinamou, Greater Scythebill, Bicolored Antvireo, Peruvian and Giant Antpittas, and White-rimmed Brush-Finch are a few of the exciting rarities that live at San Isidro Lodge. The White-faced Nunbird might even put in an appearance as it has been seen several times at San Isidro. Birds regularly seen near the lodge are White-capped Parrot, Powerful Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Inca Jay, Black-billed Peppershrike, Andean Solitaire or Saffron-crowned Tanager. When hiking the surrounding trails look out for Sickle-winged Guan, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals, Masked Trogon, Highland Motmot, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Streak-capped and Striped Treehunters, Long-tailed Antbird (a bamboo specialist), Chestnut-crowned, White-bellied and Slate-crowned Antpittas, Barred Antthrush, Marble-faced & Variegated Bristle-Tyrants and Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet, Black-chested Fruiteater, Dusky Piha, Pale-footed Swallow, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, a wonderful selection of colorful tanager species including Red-hooded and White-capped and Northern Mountain and Subtropical Caciques. Other birds often seen include Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Plain-breasted, Barred and White-rumped Hawks, and Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Sparkling Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Bronzy and Collared Incas, Buff-tailed (the rare eastern flavescens race) and Chestnut-breasted Coronets, Tyrian Metaltail, Long-tailed Sylph and Gorgeted Woodstar. San Isidro and its surroundings abound with nightbirds, including Andean Potoo (rare, but sometimes staked-out), Rufous-bellied Nighthawk (almost every dawn and dusk around the cabins) and Rufous-banded and Mottled Owls.

The area around Gareno lodge is part of the largest Pleistocene center of endemism in the Amazon basin. Here the rainforest survived the last ice age and later repopulated with species of birds, which after having evolved in isolation, were new and unique to the region. One out of every three species of the over 1,600 species of birds known to occur in Ecuador are found here in the Gareno lodge area. Birds commonly seen or heard at the lodge and trails are: Great Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Double-toothed Kite, White Hawk, Harpy Eagle, Ornate Hwk-Eagle, Bicolored Hawk, Black Caracara, Bat Falcon, Speckled Chachalaca, Nocturnal Curassow, Sunbittern, Mealy Amazon, Rufous Potoo Spectacled Owl, Pavonine Quetzal, Fiery Topaz, Red-necked Woodpecker, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Undulated Antshrike, Scarlet-crowned Barbet, Gilded Barbet, Great Jacamar, and Striped Manakin, among others.

ITINERARY

Day 01 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. We highly recommend arriving in Quito one day prior to the start of the tour in order to acclimate to the altitude. Accommodation in Quito.

 

 

Day 02 Antizana

After breakfast, we will head to the Antizana National Park where we will search for Andean Condor, Black-faced Ibis, Paramo Pipit, Black-winged Ground-Dove, and other paramo specialties. On our way to the Papallacta Pass we will target the Giant Hummingbird, which feeds on the strange Puya Puya plant before taking the Old Papallacta Route to look for Viridian Metaltail and the rare Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant.
When we get to the pass, our main targets will be the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and the Ecuadorian Hillstar. Afterwards we will explore the unique Polylepis Forest (the only tree hardy enough to grow at these altitudes) and look for mixed flocks which will hopefully include such sought-after birds as Giant Conebill, White chinned Thistletail and Black backed Bush-Tanager. Later we will hike to the Suco Lake in search of Silvery Grebe and other waterbirds before arriving at our lodge for the night. Accommodation at Termas de Papallacta.

Day 03 Andean Forests

Early this morning we will drive to the Elfin Forest to look for rare and endangered species such as Masked Mountain-Tanager, Paramo Tapaculo, and Agile Tit-Tyrant, among others. We will have time to revisit the Polylepis Forest to look for any missed target species before heading on to Guango Lodge.
The feeders at Guango allow "in-your-face" views of many highly sought-after hummingbirds, star among which is the amazing Sword-billed Hummingbird! Other special hummers include Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Mountain Velvetbreast, Tourlamine Sunangel, and Mountain Avocetbill. We will walk the surrounding trails looking for mixed flocks and also check the Papallacta River for Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. Accommodation at Guango Lodge.

Day 04 Guango Lodge

After an early breakfast we will spend the morning in the forest around the lodge looking for Black-capped Hemispingus, Barred Becard, Turquoise Jay, Lacrimose and Hooded Mountain-Tanagers, and the rare Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan. After lunch we will head further down the Andean slopes to San Isidro Lodge where we will spend the next three nights. Accommodation at San Isidro Lodge.

Day 05 San Isidro Lodge

We will spend the day exploring the trails around the lodge property, looking for such gems as Crested Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, and Inca Jay. Few birds can compete with the tanagers when it comes to "feathered jewelry", and we will search for as many as we can find, including White-capped, Saffron-crowned, Golden-naped, Beryl-spangled, Blue-and-black, and Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers. At nightfall, we will search for the "San Isidro Owl", the lodge's famous "mystery owl" which may eventually be designated a new species! Accommodation at San Isidro Lodge.

Day 06 Guacamayo Ridge

After an early breakfast, we will travel to the Guacamayo Ridge where we will spend the day along the Pipeline Trail looking for Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Grass-green Tanager, Greater Scythebill, Ocellated Tapaculo, and Slate-crowned Antpitta, among others. Accommodation at San Isidro Lodge.

Day 07 Birding in the Amazon Basin

After an early breakfast we will continue the tour driving down to the Amazon Basin. On the way, we will stop at Loreto in the foothills of the Andes, known for its wide variety of birds such as Paradise Tanager, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Cliff Flycatcher, and Orange-breasted Falcon, among others. Continuing on, we will cross the Napo River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon, and after another 75 km we will arrive at Gareno Lodge where we will spend the next three nights. This lodge is rustic, with no electricity, and is run by the Huaorani people, one of the native Ecuadorian tribes. Accommodation at Gareno Lodge.



 

Day 08 Gareno Lodge

After enjoying an early breakfast we will hike to an area where a pair of Harpy Eagles has nested in recent years. On the way we will try to find an ant swarm and associated feeding flock, which may include White-plumed, Sooty, Chestnut-tailed, Bicolored, and Hairy-crested Antbirds, and perhaps even a White-lored Antpitta. In the afternoon we will observe the day roosts of the Rufous Potoo and Crested Owl. Accommodation at Gareno Lodge.

Day 09 Gareno Lodge

After an early breakfast we will explore the lodge's trails, looking for Pavonine Quetzal, Undulated Antshrike, Fiery Topaz, Red-necked Woodpecker, Scarlet-crowned Barbet, Great Jacamar, and Striped Manakin, among others. Accommodation at Gareno Lodge.

Day 10: Travelling back up into the Andes

Today we will head back to Quito, birding along the way. We will try to get the species that we missed before. Accommodation in Quito.

Day 11: 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 coast or the Galapagos Islands before or after the tour.


Prices 2017 per person (minimum 02 people):
In a double room: US$ 3095,- per person
Single room supplement: US$ 740,-

Please contact us for prices for the tour for 1 traveler or groups.

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), 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.

NB: Please read all itineraries as a guide only. All routes and programs can change without notice due to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and the wildlife encountered during the travel. Flexibility is the key to the success of any tour. Nevertheless the safety and the interest of our passengers is always our first priority.


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