Choco Endemics – The Northwest and Eastern Slope


Next Departures

  • 14 Jul to 27 Jul
  • 20 Oct to 02 Nov
  • 17 Nov to 30 Nov
  • 08 to 21 Dec

51Mistery OwlThis   is our most popular birding tour.  From the high mountains of Yanacocha   Reserve at 3500 meters (11,482 ft.) to the lowlands of Silanche Reserve   at 300 m. (984 ft.), we will explore a variety of habitats hosting a   plethora of endemic bird species!  For this leg of the tour, we will be   lodging at Septimo Paraiso Lodge in Mindo, only a two-hour drive from   Quito.

The Choco traverses the length of western Colombia and Ecuador, although most of the endemic Choco species occur no further south than El Oro province . The area is comprised of high peaks and the Pacific slope of the Colombian Andes in Narino, stretching south into Ecuador, embracing the westernmost volcanic peaks south to Canar and Azuay, with just a few species occurring in the Cordillera de Chilla.

COFRock22Some overlap with the North Central Andes , Endemic Bird Area (EBA), may occur in parts of northern Ecuador, although the species endemic to this latter area all inhabit higher altitudes, primarily above 2500 m. (8202 ft.). In the Pacific coastal lowland, this EBA extends throughout the Colombian Choco into northern Esmeraldas province and continues along the base of the Andes in the provinces of Pichincha, Los Rios, and northern Guayas.

The Choco EBA covers an area of approximately 60,000 (23 sq. miles) and boasts the largest number of range-restricted birds (61 species) of all the world’s EBAs. The area supports a large number of species restricted to the tropical lowlands and lower subtropical foothills, with the remainder primarily confined to the subtropical zone and up to around 3000m (9842 ft) on some of the higher peaks in Colombia’s western Andes. All of these restricted-range species occur in humid and wet forest-dominated habitats.

Day 1

CRUMtoucerbuArrival in Quito. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel.

Night in Quito.

Day 2

Sapphire-Vented-PufflegYanacocha Reserve At 11,483 feet, Yanacocha is famous for its high-elevation specialties, and we will spend the morning birding the Trocha Inca Trail. Here we will see at least ten species of hummingbirds, and the mixed feeding flocks we will encounter will add many more tantalizing birds to the list! Like , Barred Fruiteater, Great Sapphirewing, Golden breasted and Sapphire vented Pufflegs, Sword billed Hummingbirds, and much more. We will enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the grandiose montane vista, after which we will begin the drive to Mindo via the Old Nono Mindo Road, birding along the way. This road offers spectacular views of the forest and excellent birding, with the possibility of such sought-after birds such as Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. We will then arrive at the Septimo Paraiso Lodge in Mindo, where we will spend the next four nights.

Night: Septimo Paraiso Lodge.

Day 3

TBARBETAfter an early breakfast we will drive to the Tandayapa Valley, where the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve is located. Our target species will include Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Toucan Barbet, and one of the most rare and sought-after birds: the Tanager Finch. After lunch, we will relax by the feeders and enjoy up to 20 species of hummingbirds, including Brown and Collared Incas, Violet-tailed Sylph, and Booted Rackettail.

Night: Septimo Paraiso Lodge

Day 4

Yellow breasted AntpittaEarly this morning we will head to Paz de las Antpittas Reserve to observe the Andean Cock of the Rocks at their lek, where males assemble during the mating season and engage in competitive displays that attract females. Afterwards we will join Angel (the owner of the reserve) as she draws her “charges” in for breakfast Maria the Giant Antpitta, Willi the Yellow-breasted Antpitta, and Susan the Moustached Antpitta! We will then enjoy our own breakfast, and on the way back to the lodge we will make a stop at Mindo Loma Reserve to look for Black-chinned Mountain Tanager and Hoary Puffleg. After lunch we will have about an hour to “chill out” before visiting the Milpe Bird Sanctuary in the afternoon to search for Choco endemics such as Moss-backed, Rufous-throated, and Glistening-green Tanagers,as well as Club-winged Manakin. Night: Septimo Paraiso Lodge

Day 5

CWMgood After an early breakfast, we will drive downslope to the Silanche Reserve. At 1000 feet, this is the lowest preserve we will visit, and we will spend a few hours at the Canopy Tower looking for Choco endemics such as Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Rufous-winged and Blue-whiskered Tanagers, Scarlet browed Tanager , Gray and Gold Tanager , Tawny crested Tanager and much more .

Night: Septimo Paraiso Lodge

Day 6

OilbirdmineThis day we will visit masphi road looking for Moss backed Tanager ,Black solitary ,Indigo Flowerpiercer ,Esmeraldas Antbird and more.

And then we will travel an hour’s drive to the Oilbird Cave in hopes of seeing this enigmatic bird! In the afternoon we will drive to Quito.

Night in Quito

Day 7

After breakfast, we will head for 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 Papallacta Pass we will target the Giant Hummingbird, which feeds on the strange Puya Puya plant, then take 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 an altitude of over 9500 feet) and look for mixed flocks which will hopefully will include such sought- after birds as Giant Conebill , White chinned Thistletail, Black backed Bush-Tanager. Then we will hike to Suco Lake in search of Silvery Grebe and other waterbirds before arriving at our lodge for the night.

Night: Termas de Papallacta

Day 8

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 allow time to revisit the Polylepis Forest to clean up on 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 nearby trails looking for mixed flocks and also check the Papallacta River for Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper.

Night: Guango Lodge.

Day 9

GoldentanagerAfter 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 downslope to San Isidro Lodge where we will spend the next Two nights.

Night: San Isidro Lodge.

Day 10

Yellow breasted Antpitta 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. Come nightfall, we will search for the “San Isidro Owl”, the lodge’s famous “mystery owl” which may eventually be designated a new species!

Night: San Isidro Lodge

Day 11

VHHAfter an early breakfast we will drive to the Loreto road in the foothills of the Andes, known for its wide variety of birds such as Paradise, Orange eared, Golden eared, Magpie Tanagers, Blue- naped Chlorophonia, Cliff Flycatcher, and Orange-breasted Falcon, Golden Collared Toucanet and we will enjoy the mix flogs here.

Night: Sumaco wildlife Lodge

Day 12

Flame-faced-tanegrAfter enjoying an early breakfast we will explorer the trails or the road is very good for mix flocks, Coppery chested Jacamar,Gray tailed Piha, Blue rumped Manakin, and we will enjoy the hummingbird feeders at least 15 species , It included Napo Sabrewing, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Many spotted Hummmingbird, Booted Racket-tail,(orange legs), and much more . At dusk , we will try for Band bellied Owl and Foothill Screch Owl.

We continue to look for species such as Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Golden-collared Toucanet, White- tipped Sicklebill, Blackish Rail, Red-billed Tyrannulet, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Coraya Wren, Foothill Antwren, Rufous-breasted Piculet, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, more species of tanagers including Magpie, White-lined, Silver-beaked, Blue-browed, Orange-eared, Spotted, Yellow- bellied and Golden-eared.

Night: Sumaco Wildlife Lodge

Day 13

After breakfast birding Back to Quito, we will try to get the species that we missed before and we will make different stops on the road.

Night in Quito

Day 14

The tour ends with a transfer to Mariscal Sucre airport and flights home.

  • Private transportation
  • Tour Guide (bird specialized) /Driver
  • Full board
  • Entrance fee to Yanacocha reserve
  • Entrance fee to Loma Linda Hummingbird
  • Entrance fee to Paz the las Antpittas Reserve
  • Entrance fee to Silanche and Milpe Reserve.
  • Entrance feed to Antizana National Park
  • Accommodation


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