Birding the Andean Slopes: Northwest Ecuador

With John Rowden and Edwin Perez
Friday, January 11 – Monday, January 21, 2013
(Pre-trip workshops: Thursday, Jan. 3 and Tuesday, Jan. 8, 6:30-8pm)


Tour Itinerary

Pre-Trip Workshops – To prepare you for the great array of bird species that you will encounter in Ecuador and help you make the best of this rare birding opportunity, trip co-leader and ornithologist John Rowden will lead two pre-trip workshops on Thursday, January 3 and Tuesday, January 8.   John will  introduce you to the diverse ecosystems of Ecuador and the rich birdlife that makes it home there, and discuss Ecuador's importance as a bastion of biodiversity and wintering ground for neotropical migrants. These meetings will also be an opportunity to discuss any trip-related issues and answer any questions you might have while preparing for departure.

Day 1 – Arrival in Quito and transfer to hotel. Orientation meeting in the evening. Overnight at Fuente de Piedra Hotel: 

[b]Cabañas San Isidro[/b]Cabañas San IsidroDay 2 – January 12: We’ll start off our tour in the early morning, departing for San Isidro and heading east through Papallacta Pass (4,200 m.) across the Eastern Cordillera. On the way we will look for birds of the paramo (alpine tundra), including Andean condor, rufous-bellied seedsnipe, carunculated caracara, stout-billed cincloides, Andean tit-spinetail and many others.  We will also check for polylepis (a high-altitude tree) specialties, including giant conebill, black-backed bush-tanager and paramo tapaculo.  Descending to Guango Lodge we will look nearby for the spectacular hummingbirds that come to feeders there, including (among many others) sword-billed hummingbird, glowing and golden-breasted pufflegs, tourmaline sunangel and mountain avocetbill.  We’ll bird along the road and arrive in the afternoon at San Isidro Lodge.  In the evening we’ll check for rufous-banded and “San Isidro” owls.  Overnight at Cabañas San Isidro – Andean Cloud Forest Reserve & Lodge:
[b]Golden-headed Quetzal[/b]Golden-headed QuetzalDay 3 – This morning we’ll bird San Isidro and Guacamayos Ridge.  San Isidro (2,050 m.), a 2,500-acre reserve, is a prime location for east-slope birds, boasting a bird list of more than 300 species.  Birds to look for include crested and golden-headed quetzals, highland motmot, barred parakeet, and chestnut-breasted chlorophonia.  At Guacamayos Ridge to the east and lower, we will look for white-tipped sicklebill, coppery-chested jacamar, golden-winged manakin, and the rare olivaceous piha. Overnight at Cabañas San Isidro.

Day 4
– We’ll depart from San Isidro early, backtracking west to Bosque Protector Jerusalén (Jerusalem Park), a unique high-altitude dry forest habitat, then make our way to Hacienda Cusin.  Target birds include giant hummingbird, scrub and blue-and-yellow tanagers, golden-rumped euphonia, rusty flowerpiercer, purple-collared woodstar, and burrowing owl.  The very rare buff-fronted owl has been seen here.  Later we’ll head north to San Pablo and the lovely Hacienda Cusín.  Overnight at Hacienda Cusín:
[b]Andean Condor[/b]Andean CondorDay 5 – We’ll bird nearby Lago San Pablo early, looking for subtropical doradito and Ecuadorian rail.  After lunch in Otavalo and a visit to the lively Otavalo market, we’ll depart for Intag, birding along the road which crosses the western cordillera, arriving at Neblina Reserve in the afternoon.  Target species include curve-billed tinamou and condor, various mountain tanagers, barred fruiteaters, several tapaculos—including ocellated—plate-billed mountain toucan, and many other species in mixed flocks. We’ll arrive at Santa Rosa (2,000 m.) in the late afternoon and look for lyre-tailed nightjar in the evening.  Overnight at El Refugio de Intag Cloud Forest Retreat: 
[b]El Refugio de Intag[/b]El Refugio de IntagDay 6 – Today we’ll get to know the rich birdlife of the El Refugio area.  We will travel on foot to La Florida to witness the cock-of-the-rock lek (western subspecies).  Other birds to look for include the rare white-faced nunbird, sickle-winged guan, masked trogon, dark-backed wood quail, crimson-rumped toucanet, and golden-headed quetzal. Overnight at El Refugio de Intag. 
[b]Western Emerald[/b]Western EmeraldDay 7 – This morning we’ll travel by four-wheel drive to Siempre Verde, a high altitude mossy forest.  There we’ll look for the rare black-and-chestnut eagle, toucan barbet, plate-billed mountain toucan, Andean guan, and many others.  Overnight at El Refugio de Intag.

Day 8 – We’ll get an early start from Intag area and head southwest toward Mashpi.  En route we will stop at Chontal to visit a cave of the secretive and ecologically important oilbird.  Along the Mashpi Road, through mid-elevation Chocó woodland, we will look for moss-backed tanager, Pacific tufted cheek, club-winged manakin, orange-breasted fruiteater, black-chinned mountain tanager, indigo flowerpiercer, and the rare Chocó vireo. Overnight at Séptimo Paraíso Lodge:

[b]Broad-Billed Motmot[/b]Broad-Billed MotmotDay 9 – Today we’ll travel to the Río Silanche Reserve, (350 m.), a rare preserved stand of western lowland Chocó forest.  A host of interesting birds will greet us, featuring large mixed flocks and numerous rarities: purple-chested hummingbird, Chocó trogon, double-banded graytail, Griscom's antwren, black-tipped cotinga, and blue-whiskered tanager. Later we will visit Milpe Sanctuary (1,020-1,150 m., 155 acres), another site for manakins, as well as broad-billed motmot, yellow-collared and rufous-throated chlorophonias, and Chocó toucan.  Overnight at Séptimo Paraíso Lodge.
[b]Pale-Mandibled Aracari[/b]Pale-Mandibled Aracari Day 10 – On our final day of birding, We will visit Paz de las Aves Refuge to see the celebrated antpittas (giant, moustached, and yellow-breasted) all habituated by Angel Paz to close human contact. A cock of the rock lek is also located on the refuge property.  Overnight at Fuente de Piedra Hotel.

Day 11 – Alas, eventually all good things must come to an end. Transfer and departure from Quito airport.



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Please contact Tod Winston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212-691-7483 for more information or to register.


Photo Credits: 

Cabañas San Isidro © Cabañas San Isidro; Golden-headed Quetzal © Tamako the Jaguar*; Andean Condor © Körschgen*;
El Refugio de Intag © Peter Joost; Western Emerald © Patty McGann*; Broad-Billed Motmot © Dominic Sherony*; Pale-Mandibled Aracari © Ocelot123*.  (* indicates Flickr Creative Commons)



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