Southern Ecuadorian Andes

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Loja, Birdwatching in Jorupe Reserve, Utuana Reserve, Tapichalaca Reserve, Birdwatching Tapichalaca Reserve, Buenaventura Reserve, Podocarpus, Cajas National Park



Recognized by leading ornithologists as one of the most highly diverse countries in terms of bird species, Ecuador has officially registered more than 1,600 endemic and exotic species – and the list keeps growing! This means that an Ecuadorian birding experience can be anything from observing condors circling a high mountain pass, witnessing throngs of hummingbirds buzzing across steep Andean slopes, or sighting jays, foliage gleaners and finches on dry wastelands. But there's also the Amazon, where the name itself evokes images of pre-historic looking hoatzins, as well as antbirds, antthrushes, small flycatchers and ground-cuckoos feasting on swarms of ants. What's also great is the convenience, in that all of these images – as numerous as they are – can be found in this compact country that's not much larger than Britain or the US state of Colorado. This is why our tours appeal to birdwatching aficionados and experts alike. These are people who journey to this marvelous country to see these species ...and who might even discover a new one!

Itinerary Details

AM: When you arrive in Quito, you will be met at the airport and taken to the hotel, located in a modern district of the capital city.
AM: This morning you will be driven to the airport to catch your flight to the city of Loja. Once you land at the city's Catamayo Airport, you will be met and accompanied to the Urraca eco-lodge in the Jorupe Reserve near the town of Macará. On the 21/2 hour drive there will be opportunities to stop and spot the most common bird species of this region. Birds that are likely to be seen include Pacific horneros, Great antshrikes, Collared antshrikes, Watkins’s antpittas, Elegant crescent chests, Loja tyrannulets, Tumbes sparrows, Tawny-crowned pygmy tyrants, and Black-crested tit-tyrants. We will reach the lodge in time for dinner and later turn in for the night.
AM: After an early at 5:30 a.m. breakfast, we will head out for an entire morning of birdwatching right around the lodge, returning there for lunch. In this incredible forest, you can see many species of birds that can only be found in Ecuador. The species include the Savanna hawk, the Bat falcon, the Blue ground dove, the Gray-cheeked parakeet, Pacific pygmy owls, Pauraques, the Amazilia hummingbird, the Ecuadorian trogon, Blue-crowned motmots, Golden-olive woodpeckers, the Scarlet-backed woodpecker, Blackish-headed spinetails, Rufous-necked foliage-gleaners, Henna-hooded foliage-gleaners, Olivaceous woodcreepers, Streak-headed woodcreepers, Plain antvireos, Watkins's antpitta, Tumbesian tyrannulets, the Pacific elaenia, Slaty becards, One-colored becards, White-tailed jays, Rufous-browed peppershrikes, the Plumbeous-backed thrush and the Yellow-tailed oriole. Dinner and overnight back at the Urraca Lodge.
AM: Following breakfast at 5:00 a.m., we will pack and leave the lodge. Today we will go birdwatching in Utuana Reserve, about an hour away from the Urraca Lodge. Many rare and endemic species can be found in this reserve, and if you’re lucky you'll be able to spot species such as the Gray-headed antbird, Piura Hemispingus, the Black-crested tit-tyrant, Rainbow starfrontlet and Northern crested caracara. After watching birds in this reserve all morning, you'll have a box lunch and then we’ll head for Tapichalaca Reserve, which is owned by the Jocotoco Foundation. After about a four-hour journey, we will reach the foundation's Casa Simpson Lodge, where you will have dinner and spend the night.
AM: After breakfast, we will walk along paths in Tapichalaca Reserve searching for the Jocotoco antpitta, a very rare species that is endemic to the zone. Around midday we will start heading back to the hotel while observing various species such as the Andean potoo, the Bearded guan, Imperial snipes, Maroon-chested ground doves, White-breasted parakeets, the Golden-plumed parakeet, Barred antthrushs, White-capped tanagers, Rufous-capped thornbills, Black-billed mountain toucans, the Grey-breasted mountain toucan, and the White-faced nunbird. There are also 17 species of hummingbirds that come to the feeders around the lodge, where lunch and dinner will also be served.
AM: Breakfast will be served very early, before we will set off along a number of different paths in the Tapichalaca Reserve. We will spend the entire day in the forest, where you will have a box lunch. The birds you are sure to see include the White-throated quail-dove, Black-capped hemispingus, Citrine warblers, Black-throated tody-tyrants, Amethyst-throated sun angels, White-bellied woodstars, Collared Incas, Chestnut-breasted coronets, Gray-hooded bush tanagers, Hooded mountain toucans, Streaked tufted-cheeks, Pearled tree-runners, Plain-tailed wren, Rufous wren, Slaty finch, Variegated bristle tyrants, White-banded tyrannulet, Marañón thrush and the Silver-backed tanagers. In the afternoon you will return to Casa Simpson for dinner and the night.
AM: After a very early breakfast, you will pack and leave Casa Simpson, setting off for the Buenaventura Reserve, located towards the lower forests on the coast. On the way, you should spot some very interesting mountain rainforest species. In the afternoon you will see birds from dry forests as well as birds from the cloud forest of southern Ecuador, including the Choco toucan, Blue-black grosbeak, Red-hooded tanager, Black-capped tanager and El Oro parakeets. In the late afternoon, we will return to Buenaventura Reserve for dinner and the night.
AM: We will leave the lodge at around 5:30 a.m. and walk for around 20 minutes to the claylick of the long-wattled umbrellabird. This species is extremely rare and in danger of extinction, with Buenaventura Reserve being the only place in southern Ecuador where they can be found. After what promises to be a great show, we will return to the lodge for breakfast. After breakfast we will walk along different paths to observe some of the birds characteristic of this reserve, such as the Gray-backed hawk, the Rufous-headed chachalaca, Ochre-bellied doves, Emerald-bellied woodnymph, White-whiskered puffbirds, the Chestnut-mandibled toucan, Scaled antpitta, El Oro tapaculo, Golden tanagers, Flame-faced tanagers, and the Blue-winged mountain tanager. There are also more than 25 hummingbird species that come to the feeders around the lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
AM: After breakfast at 5:00 a.m., we will pack up and leave the reserve to head for the city of Loja, stopping along the way to observe birds at the most important sites. You will have a box lunch en route, and in the afternoon we will reach Loja, where you will spend the night at the Casa Lojana Hotel. Today you should have a chance to see several native species, including the Loja tyrannulet, the Peruvian sheartail, Black-cowled saltators, Tumbes sparrows, and Tumbes hummingbirds. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
AM: Following breakfast at 5:30 a.m., and taking a box lunch with you, we will head for Podocarpus National Park, specifically the Cajanuma area, a drive of approximately one hour. In the park there are many species specific to this region, such as the Rufous antpitta, the Gray-breasted mountain toucan, the Bar-bellied woodpecker, the Chestnut-naped antpitta, the Grass-green tanager, the Streaked tufted-cheek, Scaly-naped Amazons, White-capped parrots, the White-throated quail-dove, the Rainbow starfrontlet, Chestnut-breasted coronet and the Masked trogon. In the afternoon you will return to the hotel in Loja for dinner and the night.
AM: After breakfast, we will head to the Copalinga Reserve, which is about a two-hour drive from Loja, stopping to observe birds along the way and having a box lunch. In the afternoon we will reach Copalinga Lodge, where you will later have dinner and spend the night. Throughout that day you should see more common species, such as the Magpie tanager, the Orange-eared tanager, the Black-faced dacnis, the Masked tanager, the Golden-eared tanager, the Blackish nightjar, the White-crowned manakin, the Dark-breasted spinetail, the Crested oropendola, the Yellow-cheeked becard, the Orange-billed sparrow, the Gray-fronted dove, the Speckled chachalaca, the Lined antshrike, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, the Olivaceous siskin, the Spangled coquette and the Wire-crested thornbill. Dinner and overnight at Copalinga.
AM: After breakfast at 5:30 a.m., we will start down the paths of the national park, in the Bombuscaro section, close to the lodge. Copalinga is a subtropical forest where species from the southern rainforest of Ecuador are found. These include the White-breasted parakeet, Blue-necked tanager, Lanceolated monklet, Violet-headed hummingbird, Glittering-throated emerald, Violet-fronted brilliant, Blue-tailed emerald, Green-and-gold tanager, Speckled chachalaca, Orange-crowned euphonia, Golden-eared tanager, Magpie tanager, White-breasted parakeet, Wire-crested thornbill, Spangled coquette, Andean cock-of-the rock, Blue dacnis, Spotted tanager, Swallow tanager and the Yellow-bellied tanager. In the afternoon we will leave this area and drive to the city of Cuenca. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Mansión Alcázar.
AM: After a very early breakfast, we will drive towards the coast, observing birds along the way. We will make a stop in Cajas National Park for even more bird watching. In the afternoon we will drive back to the Cuenca airport for the short flight to Quito, where you will be met and driven to the J.W. Marriott Hotel for the night.
AM: After breakfast, you will be driven to Quito's new international airport for your homebound flight. Our hope will be that you had a fascinating birdwatching adventure in Ecuador and that you will return for more!

Trip Advisor Reviews

star rating  Lo mejor es la vista de todo el centro histórico quiteño y recomendable ir de noche.
La comida es rica y sabrosa, los precios no son los mas económicos.

June 22, 2016

star rating  Si quieres conocer a sudamerica no dudes en pedirles que te preparen un viaje personalizado. Tienen contactos con locales en diferentes países y te organizan un viaje de lujo. Muy recomendable

Ricardo V
June 27, 2018

star rating  Hemos estado dos semanas viajando por Ecuador y Galápagos con la empresa Surtrek y realmente estamos muy contentos con el trabajo de esta empresa. Todo, todo ha sido perfecto, los guias en diferentes ciudades han sido muy amables y competentes, se nota que aman su trabajo y lo más importante, transmiten su amor por su país.

Ha sido un placer conoceros!! Volveremos!!

Rosa M
September 1, 2022

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