San Isidro and WildSumaco

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Our tour extension to Mindo crosses the high Andean Páramo into the lush cloud forest of the Eastern slopes of the Andes. This immense geological barrier has isolated bird populations for long periods of time and produced many ‘sister species’ to those we would have seen around Mindo. We will see many hummingbirds and tanagers with totally different color patterns on this side of the Andes. But in addition, we will also see many treats in the way of species more typical of the Amazonian forests that reach mid elevations.

This side of the Andes can feel more remote, but the lodges we will stay at are comfortable, with good food, and great trail circuits. The species we will encounter are an excellent counterpart to those seen on the main tour. It is really interesting to see how, what looks to be a similar habitat, harbors a completely new community of birds.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
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RESUMEN ITINERARIO:

Day 1: Papallacta Pass

Day 2: San Isidro

Day 3: San Isidro to WildSumaco

Day 4: WildSumaco

Day 5: Guango Lodge

Day 6: Quito

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Endemics of the Páramo
  • An additional 20 species of hummingbirds
  • Many eastern slope ‘sister species’ and amazonian specialties
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THIS TOUR?
  • Accommodation at the listed hotel
  • All meals
  • Private transport in comfortable van
  • Entrance fees to all mentioned reserves
  • Specialist bilingual birding guide
What is not included in this tour?
  • International flights to Quito
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • A la carte meals
  • Bank transfer fees
  • Extra luggage fees
  • Additional nights of accommodation
  1. Day 1: Papallacta Pass

    Our first day starts by heading up towards the Papallacta Pass. This area is famous for being a fantastic hotspot for species of the Páramo (high Andean grasslands) and scrubby high altitude cloud forest at ~4500m. On route we will pay close attention to the mountainsides were Spectacled Bears can be seen regularly.

    In the Páramo we will look for some of the specialty high-altitude hummingbirds, like the spectacular Ecuadorian Hillstar, Shining Sunbeam and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. In this environment we can find Stout-billed Cinclodes, Many-striped Canastero, Paramo Tapaculo, Red-crested Cotinga and Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant. A species of particular interest at this site, but sometimes difficult to see, is the Crescent-faced Antpitta.

    Descending slightly we reach scrubby cloud forest where we will look for high elevation specialists like Masked, Hooded and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers, Golden-crowned Tanager, Brown-backed and Crowned Chat-Tyrants and Blue-backed Conebill.

    During the afternoon we will continue our descent through the valleys until we reach our accommodation for the next two night, the fantastic Cabañas San Isidro. This lodge protects a large swath of cloud forest and is famous for having its very own undescribed owl ‘species’. The San Isidro Owl remains poorly known and has yet to be formally described, but has a distinct plumage. Nonetheless it indulges visitors with great views nearly every night by the lodge’s veranda. Dinner and night at Cabañas San Isidro.

  2. Day 2: San Isidro

    Taught by Angel Paz himself, the staff at San Isidro have learned to be ‘Antpitta-whisperers’ as well. The specialty as San Isidro is the White-bellied Antpitta, that arrives for its worm breakfast every morning. After ourbreakfast, we will head out to explore the hides and trails of the lodge where we can find species like Inca Jay, Flavescent Flycatcher, Montane Woodcreeper, Three-striped and Black-crested Warblers, Slate-throated Redstart and Saffron-crowned Tanagers.

    At lunch time, some time spent by the hummingbird feeders on the veranda can produce Long-tailed Sylph, Bronzy and Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet and Gorgetted Woodstar.

    Areas close to the lodge are also great for spotting groups of Military Macaws flying overhead. In the forests here we can also find the skittish Slate-crowned Antpitta and Blackish Tapaculo, as well as the colorful Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher. In open areas along the road we can also spot groups of Chestnut-backed Oropendola and Scarlet-rumped Cacique. Dinner and night at Cabañas San Isidro.

  3. Day 3: San Isidro to WildSumaco

    After breakfast and a quick look at the hides, we will make our way further down in elevation on our way to WildSumaco Lodge. Making stops along the way on the Loreto Road we will look for species like Green-backed Hillstar, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Spangled Coquette(!), Coppery-chested Jacamar, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer and Silver-beaked, Orange-eared, Spotted, Blue-necked, Paradise and Green-and-gold Tanager.

    By lunch time we will have arrived at our accommodation, WildSumaco Lodge. After a nice lunch we can rest on the porch enjoying a whole new set of hummingbirds at the feeders. Here the feeders are crowded by Green Hermit, Wire-crested Thorntail, Black-throated Mango, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Black-throated Brilliant, Gould’s Jewelfront, Napo Saberwing and Many-spotted Hummingbird.

    During the afternoon we will explore the lodge’s trail circuit in search of mixed flocks and Manakins. By their research station there is often a pair of Tropical Screech-Owls roosting. Dinner and night at WildSumaco Lodge.

  4. Day 4: WildSumaco

    The moth hides at the lodge are a great place for those keen enough to get there at first light. The insects attracted overnight by a light are a feast for understory skulkers that visit in the morning. Here we can get rare close views of Lined Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Peruvian Warbling-Antbird, White-backed Fire-Eye, Black-faced Antbird and Black-billed Woodcreeper. While enjoying you breakfast you can also enjoy the view of a confiding group of Black-mantled Tamarins that visit in the morning for their banana breakfast.

    The fame of Angel Paz has travelled far and wide, and his techniques have been adopted by many. WildSumaco is not the exception. Here the specialties are the Plain-backed and Ochre-breasted Antpittas. This really never gets old.

    The rest of our day will be spent exploring the trails of the lodge. We will search for mixed flocks and any species we have missed thus far, returning to the lodge for lunch and a little break before bird activity picks up again in the afternoon. Dinner and night at WildSumaco.

  5. Day 5: Guango Lodge

    After another inspection of the moth hide in the morning and breakfast at the lodge we will start heading back in the direction of Quito. For lunch we will have arrived at our accommodation, Guango Lodge. The grounds of the lodge are a great mid-to-high elevation spot to find some more specialties, such Sword-billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Tyrian Metaltail, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan and Andean Potoo.

    This evening we will have a farewell dinner and share our highlights of the trip. Night at Guango Lodge.

  6. Day 6: Quito

    After breakfast we will drive back to Quito, making stops along the Papallacta Pass if any last species are on our list. Again, we will keep our eyes open for movement on the mountainsides in the hopes of spotting a Spectacled Bear.

    Guests can be taken directly to the airport or to the city if staying for more days.