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'Birds of Southern Ecuador'

What makes this trip special?

Mangroves & freshwater marshes

Mangroves & freshwater marshes

Manglares- Churute Reserve

An important reserve of extensive mangrove and freshwater marsh which hosts a variety of species including White Ibis and Jet Antbirds.

Accessible forested slopes

Accessible forested slopes

Buenaventura

A diverse area where two important bioregions merge. Species include the Oro Parakeet, 12 threatened species and a range of wet-forest birds.

High cloudforest

High cloudforest

Cajanuma

This area claims to have the highest number of species found in any cloudforest in the world. The full list includes 5 threatened species, 9 near-threatened and 9 restricted-range.

Humid temperate forest

Humid temperate forest

Tapichalaca

The Tapichalaca forest is home to species including Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Dusky Pinha, Red-hooded and White-capped Tanagers and White-breasted Parakeets.

Temperate, subtropical & foothill zones

Temperate, subtropical & foothill zones

Loja - Zamora road

A fascinatingly diverse area for birding with species such as Maroon-tailed and White breasted Parakeets, Green Hermit, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Rufous-capped Thornbill and Amethyst Woodstar.

High temperate elfin forest

High temperate elfin forest

Gualaceo-Limon road

One of the few places in the world where you can experience this type of habitat, specialities include Mouse-coloured Thistletail, Glossy Flowerpiercer and the rare Masked Mountain-Tanager.

Dry forest endemics and Raptors

Dry forest endemics and Raptors

Cerro Blanco or Santa Elena Peninsula

Dependent on the day of the week visit either of these reserves to view a range of raptor species.

Itinerary map for Ecuador & Galapagos 'Birds of Southern Ecuador' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Guayaquil
  • 2 Buenaventura
  • 3 Buenaventura
  • 4 Loja
  • 5 Loja
  • 6 Tapichalaca
  • 7 Tapichalaca
  • 8 Loja
  • 9 Zamora
  • 10 Zamora
  • 11 Cuenca
  • 12 Cuenca
  • 13 Gualaceo
  • 14 Guayaquil
  • 15 Guayaquil
  • 16 Guayaquil
  • 16 Cerro Blanco
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Birds of Southern Ecuador'

DAY 1

Guayaquil

You are met on the arrival of your chosen international flight and transferred to a 4* hotel in Guayaquil.

DAY 2
BLD

Manglares-Churute

A morning’s birdwatching at Manglares-Churute, an important reserve of extensive mangrove forest and large freshwater marsh. Drive to Buenaventura, near Piñas, in the afternoon. Stay 2 nights at Jocotoco Foundation’s Umbrellabird Lodge, Buenaventura.

DAY 3
BLD

Buenaventura

Full day’s birdwatching at Buenaventura. This superb and easily accessible area of steep forested slopes combines the southern limit of the Chocó avifaunal region with the Tumbesian region. It was made famous in 1980 by the discovery of a new parakeet, the El Oro Parakeet. The area boasts an impressive list, including 8 threatened and 4 near-threatened species, and a wide range of local wet-forest species. Pacific Royal and Grey-breasted Flycatchers and Ochraceous Attela can be seen along this road. You can get into several impressive tanager flocks, which may have Rufous-throated Tanager, and several joining species like Russet Antshrike. Raptors include Black and Ornate Hawk Eagles and Crested-eagle (rare). A possible find is the Long-Wattled Umbrella Bird.

DAY 4
BLD

Further birdwatching this morning at Buenaventura then transfer to the small town of Loja in the afternoon, birding en route. Overnight at La Casa Lojana, for 2 nights.

DAY 5
BLD

Podocarpus NP: Cajanuma Sector

A full day of birding in the Cajanuma sector of Podocarpus National Park. With 210 species this wet area has the highest number of bird species of any cloudforest and elfin forest/páramo eco-tone in the world (2,500m–3,200m). It is home to 5 threatened, 9 near-threatened and 9 restricted-range species including Bearded Guan, Red-faced Parrot, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Purple-throated Sunangel, Orange-banded Flycatcher, Masked Mountain-Tanager and Chestnut-bellied Cotinga which was first seen here. The main entrance has been cited as one of the best spots in the world, in terms of variety and ease of access, for watching Andean birds.

DAY 6
BLD

Loja - Vilcabamba - Tapichalaca

Head south today to Vilcabamba, stopping along the way to pick up more Tumbesian specialities: Amazilia Hummingbird, Pacific Hornero, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Tumbes and Southern-beardless Tyrannulets, Fasciated Wren, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Plumbeous-backed Thrush, Grey-and-Gold and Three-banded Warblers, Silver-backed Tanager (if you are lucky!), Scrub Blackbird, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Saffron Finch and Streaked Saltator. More birding around Vilcabamba, most notably for Plumbeous Rail, then continue working the road all the way through arid habitats and up into humid temperate zone forest to Tapichalaca. Arrive at the Jocotoco Foundation’s lodge at Tapichalaca for 2 nights, where you will be thrilled by the action at the hummingbird feeders. Staying at the lodge allows us to visit in the early morning the site where the Jocotoco Antpitta was recently discovered.

DAY 7
BLD

Tapichalaca Reserve: Quebrada Honda

A full day’s birdwatching in the Tapichalaca Reserve. In addition to the sometimes elusive Jocotoco Antpitta this area is home to Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Dusky Piha, Red-hooded and White-capped Tanagers, White-breasted Parakeet, Scaly-naped Amazon and Red-billed Parrot. The upper part of the Quebrada Honda trail is good for mixed species flocks: look for Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Orange-banded Flycatcher and Masked Saltator.

DAY 8
BLD

Morning at Tapichalaca watching for mixed foraging flocks and searching out some of the skulking species of the forest under-storey by the excellent forest trails, along the roadside and even from the porch! You might choose to drive a little further south, to search for some of the Marañón valley endemic species that have worked their way north. Among the possibilities: Tawny-breasted Tinamou, Plain-breasted Hawk, Bearded Guan, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Scaly-naped Amazon, Rufous-banded Owl, Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Amethyst-throated and Flame-throated Sunangels, Glowing Puffleg, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Chestnut-naped and Jocotoco Antpittas, Ocellated Antpitta, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Martañon Thrush, Pale-footed Swallow, Grass-green Tanager and Superciliaried, Black-capped and Black-headed Hemispingus. Bird the road back to Loja in the afternoon, to overnight at La Casa Lojana.

DAY 9
BLD

Loja-Zamora Road

Today we travel early to the village of Zamora. This is another fascinating transect and again you will witness great diversity as you descend through temperate, subtropical and foothill zone habitats. Some of the specialities include Maroon-tailed and White-breasted Parakeets, Green Hermit, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Amethyst Woodstar, Emerald Toucanet, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Ash-browed Spinetail, Spectacled Prickletail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Cliff Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Tyrant, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Inca Jay, Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer, and Orange-eared, Golden-eared, Saffron-crowned, and Flame-faced Tanagers. Stay 2 nights at Copalinga Lodge.

DAY 10
BLD

Podocarpus NP: Bombuscaro sector

Visit the Bombuscaro sector of the Podocarpus reserve. This rich area offers opportunities to find many rare and very local species that inhabit these foothill forests. Slowly walk the park´s trails in search of White-breasted Parakeet, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Highland Motmot, Black-streaked Puffbird, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Dusky Spinetail, Ecuatorian Greytail, Lined Antshrike, Foothill Antwren, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Olive-chested Flycatcher, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Blue-rumped Manakin, Grey-mantled Wren, and a spectacular number of Tangara Tanagers.

DAY 11
BL

Zamora-Loja-Cuenca

A birding drive from Zamora to Loja, then from Loja to Cuenca. Possible species on the way include the endangered Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, White-browed Chat-Tyrant and even Condor at Río León. Stay 2 nights at a 3* hotel in Cuenca.

DAY 12
BL

Cajas NP

Visit Cajas National Park today focusing on its higher altitude habitats. Look for the rare endemic Violet-throated Metaltail as you bird your way to the páramo at the top of the pass. Enjoy a picnic lunch to the tune of Ecuadorian Hillstar and Blue-mantled Thornbill, Tit-like Dacnis and Giant Conebill, Andean Teal and Andean Ruddy Duck, Bar-winged and Stout-billed Cinclodes. Today’s targets also include Carunculated Caracara, Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Gull, Yellow-billed Pintail, Páramo Ground-Tyrant, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Red-crested Cotinga, and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch and many other páramo species that are found here.

DAY 13
BLD

Return to the park this morning this time to the lower Llaviuco section, and walk to a small lake to bird shrubbery and woodland. While this is a relatively leisurely day, the results should be very rewarding. Look for several species of hummingbird and for mixed feeding flocks—this will probably be the first chance to see the Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan and an interesting array of montane birds such as Turquoise Jay, Masked Trogon, Spectacled Whitestart, Masked Flowerpiercer and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. Drive down to Gualaceo to stay 2 nights at Parador Turistico Gualaceo.

DAY 14
BLD

Gualaceo-Limón Road

A pre-dawn departure to take advantage of the very rich Gualaceo-Limón Road. The birding begins as the sun comes over the pass in one of the few places in the world where one can easily bird very high temperate elfin forest in search of the mixed flocks and the specialities that forage in them: Mouse-coloured Thistletail, Glossy Flowerpiercer, the very rare Masked Mountain-Tanager, Black-backed Bush-Tanager and Pale-naped Brush-Finch, will be just some of your targets as well as a variety of spe-cial hummingbirds that include Great Sapphirewing, Glowing Puffleg and Rainbow-bearded Thornbills. This transect changes subtly as you drop in altitude and so do the species of birds you will see. The temperate and subtropical zone species to be encountered are many. Some highlights include White-throated and White-rumped Hawk, Viridian Metaltail, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Emerald Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Olive-backed and Strong-billed Woodcreepers, Pearled Treerunner, Mon-tane Foliage-gleaner, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Barred Becard, Barred Fruiteater, Blue-backed Conebill, Orange-eared, Flame-faced, Golden Tanagers and (if you are lucky) the spectacular White-capped Tanager, Lacrimose, Blue-winged, and Black-chested Mountain Tanagers and the rare White-rimmed Brush-Finch. Return to Gualaceo for the night.

DAY 15
BL

Guayaquil

This morning take a birding drive to Guayaquil. Stop at several locations en route with good chances of species that inhabit the highlands, the subtropics, and the lowlands of Manglares-Churute. Stay for 2 nights in Guayaquil at the same 4* hotel as before.

DAY 16
BL

Depart early for a final morning’s birding in Cerro Blanco, well known for its impressive dry forest bird endemics, plus a great raptor list, making this a great birding trip. The area is most notable for its population of endangered Great-green Macaw. Possible sightings are the rare Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Grey-backed Hawk and Pale-browed Tinamou, and some endemic parrots like Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Red-masked Parakeet and Red-lored Amazon. The Tumbesian endemics are abundant, with good chances of finding Short-tailed Woodstar, Elegant crescent Chest, Collared Antshrike, Black-capped Sparrow, and others. Return to Guayaquil in the afternoon in good time for overnight flights to Europe, or up to Quito for Amazon lodges next day. Alternatively, stay the night in Guayaquil to fly to the Galápagos in the morning.

Guide prices for 'Birds of Southern Ecuador'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
guide price (with regular driver) 2 people sharing £4,895
guide price (with bird guide) 2 people sharing £6,485
New alternative route (with bird guide) 2 people sharing £5,195
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Ecuador
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • excursions as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Birds of Southern Ecuador'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'Birds of Southern Ecuador'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Guayaquil 31°C rainfall 172mm
2 Buenaventura 30°C rainfall 241mm
3 Buenaventura 30°C rainfall 241mm
4 Loja 21°C rainfall 96mm
5 Loja 21°C rainfall 96mm
6 Tapichalaca 23°C rainfall 125mm
7 Tapichalaca 23°C rainfall 125mm
8 Loja 21°C rainfall 96mm
9 Zamora 25°C rainfall 142mm
10 Zamora 25°C rainfall 142mm
11 Cuenca 18°C rainfall 67mm
12 Cuenca 18°C rainfall 67mm
13 Gualaceo 21°C rainfall 56mm
14 Guayaquil 31°C rainfall 172mm
15 Guayaquil 31°C rainfall 172mm
16 Guayaquil 31°C rainfall 172mm
16 Cerro Blanco 19°C rainfall 90mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Birds of Southern Ecuador'

Day 1

Oro Verde, Guayaquil

rating

Average rating 4.5 (10 ratings)

Hotel Oro Verde is strategically located in the heart of downtown Guayaquil, just 2 miles away from Guayaquil's international airport. It is the only member of The Leading Hotels of the World chain in Ecuador. There are 230 luxury rooms, including a dedicated 'club floor' especially designed for business travellers. Each room is equipped with a mini bar, radio, direct dialing telephone, a safe for your valuables, cable TV and broadband internet connection. There are also three restaurants, a bar, delicatessen, room service, a swimming pool, fitness and business centre, casino, shops, turkish bath and different types of massages offered in the spa.

 

Oro Verde, Guayaquil
Deluxe room
Days 2 - 3

Buenaventura Lodge

This is a simple and remote lodge primarily for birdwatchers. The area is renowned for being one of the ornithologically richest and most easily accessible sites in the Ecuadorian Andes. It protects a narrow zone of cloud forest habitat on the otherwise seasonally dry west slope of the Andes in Southern Ecuador.

Buenaventura Lodge
Aerial view of the lodge
Days 4 - 5

Casa Lojana

Loja

The hotel is efficiently run by the University of Loja, who use it as a learning tool for their students in hotel industry courses.

The building that houses the hotel was once an elegant home, which has since been converted. There are gardens, balconies, a fine restaurant and luxurious, well-decorated rooms.

Hot showers in full bathrooms, TV cable, internet access, excellent restaurant and other amenities.

Casa Lojana
Exterior hotel
Days 6 - 7

Tapichalaca Lodge (Casa Simpson)

Tapichalaca Lodge "Casa Simpson"  is run by the Jocotoco Foundation. It offers basic, wooden, bunk house style accommodation which is shared with researchers, the reserve's guardian, and serious birders who come hoping to see the famous Jocotoco Antpitta (Grallaria ridgelyi) discovered in 1997. The Tapichalaca reserve in which it is located is an unusually wet area of temperate-zone forest on the eastern slope of the Andes 2000m to 3400m elevation. Other key species found here are the Rufous-capped Thornbill and the Masked Saltator. NOTE: there are three rooms for visitors: 1 x triple (a set of bunks + a single), 1 x sleeps 5 (2 sets of bunk beds and a single), 1 x matrimonial. There are shared bathrooms and Wi-Fi in the communal area.

Tapichalaca Lodge (Casa Simpson)
Lodge
Day 8

Casa Lojana

Loja

The hotel is efficiently run by the University of Loja, who use it as a learning tool for their students in hotel industry courses.

The building that houses the hotel was once an elegant home, which has since been converted. There are gardens, balconies, a fine restaurant and luxurious, well-decorated rooms.

Hot showers in full bathrooms, TV cable, internet access, excellent restaurant and other amenities.

Casa Lojana
Exterior hotel
Days 9 - 10

Copalinga Lodge

Zamora

Just 3km from the Bombuscaro entrance of the Podocarpus national park this is a birders lodge sitated at 900m above sea level (approx 3,000ft). It has six wooden guest cabins each with a private bathroom and a balcony, and there is hydro-electric power provided 24 hours a day, with some limitations so as to not overload the system. As well as the hydro-electric power there is a back-up generator and in the event of disruption to all power, they offer to recharge cameras and other electronic devices at their office in Zamora town. The restaurant on site is only available to guests staying at the lodge, and serves breakfast from 5.30 am, whilst there is also a bar open in the evenings.  

Copalinga Lodge
Cabin exterior
Days 11 - 12

Crespo

riverside, downtown

Hotel Crespo is a good mid-range hotel option in Cuenca overlooking the Tomebamba river.

Each room has private bathrooms, mini bar, heating, AM - FM Radio, colour televisions with cable TV with 50 channels in 5 languages, as well as international and national direct line telephone. Some rooms have views over the river.

There is a restaurant and bar on-site

Crespo
Exterior hotel
Day 13

Hosteria Uzhupud

40 mins NE from Cuenca

An attractive, well appointed hotel situated in the countryside 40 mins drive NE of Cuenca this hotel has 36 rooms all with private bathroom. The hostería has hiking trails, horses for riding, tennis courts, a swimming pool and sauna in addition to soccer field, volleyball court and children's games. Uzhupud means "hot chilli pepper valley" in a mix of Quichua and Canari languages.

Hosteria Uzhupud
Hotel entrance
Day 14

Crespo

riverside, downtown

Hotel Crespo is a good mid-range hotel option in Cuenca overlooking the Tomebamba river.

Each room has private bathrooms, mini bar, heating, AM - FM Radio, colour televisions with cable TV with 50 channels in 5 languages, as well as international and national direct line telephone. Some rooms have views over the river.

There is a restaurant and bar on-site

Crespo
Exterior hotel
Day 15

Oro Verde, Guayaquil

rating

Average rating 4.5 (10 ratings)

Hotel Oro Verde is strategically located in the heart of downtown Guayaquil, just 2 miles away from Guayaquil's international airport. It is the only member of The Leading Hotels of the World chain in Ecuador. There are 230 luxury rooms, including a dedicated 'club floor' especially designed for business travellers. Each room is equipped with a mini bar, radio, direct dialing telephone, a safe for your valuables, cable TV and broadband internet connection. There are also three restaurants, a bar, delicatessen, room service, a swimming pool, fitness and business centre, casino, shops, turkish bath and different types of massages offered in the spa.

 

Oro Verde, Guayaquil
Deluxe room