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Ecuador Along The Middle Of The World

  • Off the beaten track
Ecuador, about the size of Arizona, has some of the highest biodiversity on Earth due to the great variation of its terrains: Pacific Ocean and coastal region, the Andes Mountains - divided into two sub-mountain ranges - the Choco bio-region, the Tumbes bio-region and the Amazon jungle. With over 1640 bird species, this makes it a birdwatcher’s paradise! The country also has one of ...

Ecuador, about the size of Arizona, has some of the highest biodiversity on Earth due to the great variation of its terrains: Pacific Ocean and coastal region, the Andes Mountains - divided into two sub-mountain ranges - the Choco bio-region, the Tumbes bio-region and the Amazon jungle. With over 1640 bird species, this makes it a birdwatcher’s paradise! The country also has one of the highest diversity of orchids and butterflies on Earth. This "Natural History" trip will take you to some of the most beautiful sites in northern Ecuador for the observation of neo-tropical avifauna.

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Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrival In Quito

Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Spend the day relaxing in order to acclimatise. Depending on the arrival time of your flight,there is the possibility to visit the beautiful colonial centre of Quito or the Botanical Gardens to see native flora and some common Andean birds. You are free to choose where to have your dinner.


Day 2: Yanacocha Reserve

Departure from Quito at 6:00 AM to the Yanacocha Reserve, situated on the northern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano. We will take the trails through Andean highland vegetation where we will observe Fuchsias, Bomareas and Melastomaceas, as well as orchids and other epiphytes growing on vegetation. The scenic views are incredible, especially on clear days. To promote conservation of small populations of certain hummingbird species here, the Jocotoco Foundation has installed feeders in strategic places to facilitate the feeding of these flying jewels. The endemic, critically-endangered Black-breasted Puffleg comes to the feeders mostly from April to September. About 18 easy-to-spot hummingbird species frequent this area. We may also see birds like Andean Guan, Barred  Fruiteater and the Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. We will enjoy lunch at the reserve. In the afternoon, descend along the Ñambi Valley to reach our next reserve: Milpe.

​Breakfast, Lunch and dinner included, Accommodation: Milpe Lodge

QuitoYanacocha, Milpe

Day 3: Milpe Reserve

After breakfast, we will start the day with the rising sun walking the different trails of the reserve, located in the middle of dense subtropical foothill forests at 1100 m / 3,609 ft. We will be exploring all day on the trails that climb across this endangered forest habitat and will be able to see an amazing number of birds such as: Rose-faced Parrot, Club-winged Manakin and Choco Warbler, flowers, butterflies and more. Dinner at the lodge. After dinner, a special permit will allow us to walk through the reserve to spot amphibians, mammals and nocturnal Raptors or Owls. Night in the same lodge.

Breakfast, Lunch and dinner included, Accommodation: Milpe Lodge


Day 4: Mashpishungo Reserve

Today we will walk on the Mashpishungo Reserve trails, located next to the Milpe area, visiting different areas at the border of the subtropical forest which hide many wonders, in particular a slightly different birdlife than that one found in the surrounding reserves, despite the proximity. We will spend the day searching for hidden species, stopping at several locations for observation: Rufous-crowned Gnatpitta, Black Solitaire, Moss-backed Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer.

​​Breakfast, Lunch and dinner included, Accommodation: Milpe Lodge


Day 5: Paz De Las Aves Reserve

Early departure from lodge. One hour drive to the protected area called "Paz de las Aves". Here we will visit an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, where, if quiet, we will witness the incredible nuptial dance of this unique, colourful bird in the Cotingidae family. On our way back, Angel Paz, the owner the reserve owner, will demonstrate how with a tremendous amount of patience, he has tamed four elusive species of Antpittas: Giant, Moustached, Ochre-breasted,Yellow-breasted, Scaled and Chestnut-crowned  Antpitta to feeds them daily. After a traditional brunch, we will explore the area.

In the early afternoon, we will drive north back to Quito, stopping in the Pululahua Crater area to explore bamboo forests (Chusquea sp.) for the elusive Rusty-breasted Antpitta (the only population known in the whole country) and other bamboo ihnabitants. Driving through the inter-Andean valley to our next lodging, we will stop to see the xerophytic vegetation and look for the rare White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant. We will reach our new Lodge in late afternoon.Dinner and overnight stay in a comfortable hacienda located at 3740 m / 12,270 ft.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Milpe, Paz de las Aves, Pintag
Night at Hacienda Hosteria Guaytara (Pintag)

Day 6: Antisana National Park

On the way up to Antisana Volcano, we will scan the craggy hillsides where the Andean Condor nests and then travel up into the Antisana Reserve highlands in search of this legendary bird and other highland species, in particular the Black-faced Ibis (the only population in Ecuador). We will walk around La Mica lake, home of a large population of water birds, such as Andean Teal and Silvery Grebe. Along the way we will stop to observe the unique highland vegetation and flowers, and watch for birds of prey.

On our way back down, we will stop along the road to look for hummingbirds, like the Giant Hummingbird, the largest hummingbird in the world. In the afternoon, we will explore the surroundings on the way up to Papallacta Pass at 4115 m / 13500 ft, and its spectacular Paramo scenery. In the late afternoon, we will reach the Guango Lodge (2500 m / 8,202 ft) on the eastern slope of the Andes with its famous hummingbirds and flowers along the Rio Papallacta River. Dinner and accommodation in a lodge.

​Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Antisana, Guango
Guango Lodge (Guango)

Day 7: San Isidro Cloud Forest

After breakfast, there will be time to check out the hummingbird feeders and watch for new species around the Lodge before we take a short walk along the swift Papallacta River. After lunch, we depart and drive east, descending towards the San Isidro Reserve. On the way we will cross several river bridges and have the opportunity to observe the Torrent Duck and also mixed flocks of Tyrannulets, Jays, Mountain-Tanagers, Hemispingus and Brush-Finches.

In the afternoon, we will explore a wonderful cloud forest, where we will be able to see birds, flowers and insects. Dinner will be served at the lodge. At night, we will check for the high elevation Owl (Ciccaba sp) that might be a new species and enjoy the colourful moths and beetles attracted to the porch lights! Dinner and overnight in a lodge.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

San Isidro
Night at San Isidro lodge (San Isidro)

Day 8: Birdwatching at San Isidro Reserve

Early breakfast and observation around the Lodge, which usually offers interesting birding in the morning. Later we will drive along the dirt road from San Isidro, stopping often to look for the outstanding birds in this area such as: Bicoloured Antvireo, Streak-Headed Antbird, Emerald Toucanet, Golden-headed Quetzal as well as the many spectacular flowers and butterflies which live in this rich cloud forest. After lunch, we will observe the many types of Hummingbird species visiting the feeders and explore the lodge grounds and trails.

​Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

San Isidro

Day 9: Guacamayos Ridge

Early birding around the lodge searching for new species. After breakfast, we will drive east to the Guacamayos Ridge and the eastern part of the Antisana Reserve for new lower-elevation species. The trail along the edge of the mountain range twists and turns between subtropical levels and foothill forest of the eastern Andes. We will explore those habitats for most of the morning before carrying on our trip towards the Amazonian plains. Lunch on the road, then we will continue to descend the Andes until we reach the City of Coca. Diner and overnight stay in Coca.

Huacamayos, Coca

Day 10: On Road to Your New Hotel

After breakfast, from the city docks on the Rio Napo, it is a winding 2 ½- 3 hour speedboat ride down the river to our next location. From the moment the boat leaves the docks, we will be totally immersed in the gigantic Upper Amazon Forest Basin and will spend the next several days exploring its wonders. From the landing on the river, we’ll hike about 20 minutes on a raised boardwalk through the forest, then canoe to Sani Lodge, situated across from the picturesque Calluacocha Lake. After settling in our cabins, we will take our first excursion into an area of Varzea forest around the Laguna. Dinner and overnight stay in cabins.

​Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Sani, El Retiro
Night at Sani Lodge (El Retiro)

Day 11: Yasuni Parrot Clay

After an early breakfast, we will travel back to Napo River and go upriver to observe the clay cliffs known as " licks", where many parrot species, such as the Dusky-headed Parakeet, Yellow-crowned Amazon and the Blue-headed Parrot, congregate in large flocks. After visiting the first clay lick, we will head to a second one for new species. Here Cobalt-winged Parakeet and Orange-cheeked Parrot descend from the forest canopy in a whirlpool of colours to the clay cavity below to drink accumulated mineral water.

​Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

El Retiro, Yasuní
Night at Sani Lodge (El Retiro)

Day 12: The Observation Tower

Early breakfast and into the canoes for a spectacular paddle up the lake to the observation tower, built about 38 m / 125 ft high in a towering Kapok Tree. On our way back to the lodge, our native guide will help us explore the forest and lake to better understand the ecosystem. Afternoon canoeing on the Laguna adjacent to the Lodge looking for the mysterious Saki Monkeys, four species of Kingfisher, several kinds of Heron, and the Hoatzin. Dinner and overnight in the lodge.

​Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

El Retiro
Night at Sani Lodge (El Retiro)

Day 13: Back To Quito

In the morning we will travel by canoe to the Napo River. At the edge of the Yasuni National Park, we will board our motorised canoe, have our glimpse around and the return back to Coca via the Napo River. In the afternoon, we will fly back to Quito. Free Dinner and night in a hotel.

​Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

El Retiro, CocaQuito
Night im Fuente de Piedra I (Quito)

Day 14: Departure

Transfer to Quito airport after breakfast for return flight home.


Quito Yanacocha Milpe Paz de las Aves Pintag Antisana Guango San Isidro Huacamayos Coca Sani El Retiro Yasuní

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. $4,170 / 14 days
Excluding international flights
Price per person, based on double occupancy

Included in price:

  • Private transport
  • Flight Coca- Quito
  • Accommodation in double room and private bathroom
  • English-speaking birding guide
  • All meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner as stated in the itinerary above
  • Entrance fee to the Reserves
  • Water, snacks and box lunch during the visits
  • The insurance covers all the travellers who have fully payed by credit card through the Evaneos platform
  • The transaction fee for online payment via Evaneos

Not included in price:

  • Alcoholic and soft beverages
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses
  • Toiletries
  • Laundry Service
  • Room service
  • International air fares
  • International airport taxes

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