250

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tour 4tour 5tour 6

 


 

Day 1:

day 1

We will leave from Quito at 8:00 A.M. to the Amazon watershed, with scenic and biodiverse cloud forests on our minds. Our first stop en route, however, will be at a rose plantation where you will have the opportunity to ogle at many of the most popular and spectacular varieties that Ecuador produces. After this it will be time to move up in elevation to the majestic, windswept paramos of Papallacta - a very tundra-like habitat. On clear days here the views of the surroundings and various volcanoes are breath-taking; a stop right up at the continental divide is one of the best spots from which to photograph the snow-capped volcano, Antisana, as it towers over the mountains below.

 

After what will have probably been a chilly morning (at best!) we will get to Guango Lodge in time to enjoy a delicious and hot, sit-down lunch, traditional Ecuadorian style, right next to the active hummingbird feeders. In the afternoon we will embark on a hike along the trails that fan out around the lodge to get a taste of the beautiful Andean temperate forests and the birds that often adorn their branches; colorful mountain-toucans and tanagers would be a hit!

 

Not letting it get too late, we will make our way down-slope – about a 1 ½ hour drive - to Cabañas San Isidro, where we will shoot to get in with daylight and settle into our rooms before dinner.

 

At dinner we will be officially welcomed and have our first taste of Ecuador’s best known hot toddy, a delicious drink - called “Canelazo” - made from water boiled with real cinnamon, fruit juice and a dash of cane alcohol, that is sure to help warm us up. There will be Guinea Pig tasting opportunity for the adventurous ones! After a magnificent dinner - our food is widely recognized for its originality and exquisite quality - a night hike awaits us, where we will be in search of owls, strange insects, nocturnal mammals or any other critter that might grace our presence. Night at San Isidro.

 

Day 2:

day 2We’ll put our birding caps on this morning and get out for the early morning activity. While we slept the lights around the lodge will have collected a mob of moths and other insects, which means one thing: a buffet for insectivorous birds in search of breakfast! We will spend the early morning watching trogons, woodcreepers, flycatchers and tanagers glean all sorts of bugs in a seemingly frantic attempt to satisfy their morning hunger. And if this has not awakened our appetites, the smell emanating from the dining room should. You guessed it: time for a controlled stampede in for a buffet breakfast!

 

Well fed and ready for more, we will set out on one of San Isidro’s newest adventures: a “virtual safari”. While at any moment a rare mammal could pop into view during the walk, they are wary, so our safari is designed to run a trap-line of sorts, checking the motion-sensor cameras and the photos that they have taken over the last weeks, days, hours… and even minutes; it really is a thrill to see a photo - that no one else has seen - of a Puma, Oncilla, Tapir, or even an Anteater, taken right where you are standing! Checking the cameras all the while, our walk will lead us to the beautiful Pumayacu Falls, right in the heart of the reserve, and then down to the edges of the pristine waters of the Cosanga River where we will enjoy a catered lunch at a remote riverside beach where a Torrent Duck might even come drifting by.

 

After a full morning of exploration, we’ll visit the Yanayacu Biology Station – up the road from the lodge - in the afternoon for a chat and more in-depth look at all of the important and fascinating research taking place in the reserve; researchers from all over the world and Ecuador congregate here to do their best to unravel the life histories and secrets of the denizens of a cloud forest system still so very much in need of study. Many new species to science have resulted from these efforts.

 

Dinner is always something to look forward to at San Isidro, so we will take full advantage! After dinner, for those interested, we can take another short stroll around the lodge to check the lights, where we will surely encounter the usual myriad of beetle and colorful moth species that have descended onto the white walls; their designs and patterns seem limitless! For the more gung-ho spirits, a night hike to check some more camera traps might whet the appetite.

 

 

tasting 4

OPTIONAL (TASTING MENU):


8 dish sampler menu featuring Amazonian & Andean flavors: $15 + 22% per menu, additional to full board rate. This needs to be pre-booked.

-Visit our Guinea Pig farm and organic garden; many of the veggies and herbs that land on your plate - free of pesticides and other chemicals - are grown right here at San Isidro in our own greenhouse.

-If you are interested in learning a new exotic Andean or Amazonian dish, a cooking class might be up your alley, so let us know and learn to make a “maito” or a “quinoa” soufflé.
Night at San Isidro.

 

Day 3:

day 3

This morning we will venture down a nearby trail or two to watch the antpittas, an extremely retiring (and subtly beautiful) group of South American birds, as they come to devour worms at the feeders… a photographer’s delight.

 

After a hearty breakfast we will venture out to the archeological ruins on the property for a look at what is left of a group, the “Curisetas” (translated as the “Goldsmiths”), that inhabited the region pre-colonially; most interesting is that they were never conquered by the Incas. Their history is a bit murky, but this small group of natives seemed to have faded away without much of a fuss or fight. The Curisetas were best known for their prowess at mining and then molding gold jewelry, and for hauling large rocks from distant areas and placing them as directional monoliths; their pottery shards are still easily found in the rivers on the property. We’ll make our way back to the lodge for a well deserved lunch!

 

We will take time for a post-lunch “siesta” before hitting the trail again. This afternoon we’ll head down to a mating lek of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock; several males of this loud and bright orange bird  - something like South America’s answer to the Birds of Paradise! – can often be found in the late afternoons carrying-on in the tree canopies right overhead in hopes of attracting females. We might even want to check any motion sensor cameras along the way to see if any critters passed by over the last 24 hours! As always, another inventive dinner awaits.

OPTIONAL: Try another cooking class to learn yet another local recipe!

 

Day 4:

day 2

OPTION 1:

This morning we will plan to rise a little earlier, zip up our bags and bid San Isidro farewell (after breakfast, of course!) for a visit to the spectacular Cascadas San Rafael or, in English, “Coca Falls”. It will take the better part of two hours to get there along the road to LagoAgrio, but highway conditions are generally good and the scenery breath-taking. Set in the foothills (between the cool forests of the subtropical zone and Amazonian lowlands), you will notice the change: warmer temperatures and taller trees. The kilometer hike through the lush tropical forests to the falls can be a great place to spot an Umbrellabird, or even a troop of Capuchin or Spider Monkeys. Upon approaching Ecuador’s mightiest of all waterfalls, you will feel its rumble well before you see it… sort of an eerie feeling, really! We will have packed lunches along and a picnic lunch eye level with the falls would be the ideal setting.

 

From here it will be time to make our way back to Quito (or down into the Amazonian lowlands to connect with the next leg of the trip).

 

OPTION 2:

This morning we will visit the Cordillera de Guacamayos (only a 20 minute drive from San Isidro), on the eastern edge of the Antisana Reserve where, on a clear day from this relatively low mountain pass, you can see jagged, high paramo peaks to the west. Looking the other way, the eastern lowlands of the Amazon sprawl out below us, where Harpy Eagles and Jaguars still prowl. Right at the pass a very historical trail begins, and plummets down through various life zones, through some of the most pristine subtropical forest any visitor to Ecuador could hope to find. Think back half a century when there were no roads into the region, only horse trails; this is exactly where pre-Colombian tribes, conquistadors and old-time explorers trudged through on their journeys across the spine of the Andes to the lowlands. We have it quite a bit better off though, with a rocked and machete-cleaned trail, but the essence is still there. Depending on our energy levels, we may hike down a few kilometers, and even have a decent shot at seeing a wild group of Common Wooly Monkeys that often sound off, betraying their presence. All the while we’ll be enjoying the staggeringly beautiful cloud forest that envelops us, so soak it in!

 

After a lunch back at San Isidro, it will be time to zip up our bags for the trip back to Quito (or down into the Amazonian lowlands to connect with the next leg of the trip).

 

SERVICES INCLUDED: Lodging in standard double room, meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day, guide and transfers according to the option chosen, all activities described, welcome coktail, coffee and tea station, purified water and taxes.

 

SERVICES NOT INCLUDED: Extra drinks (sodas, beers, wines, etc.), private guide or transportation services, extemporaneous reserve entrance fees (such as Antisana Reserve) and other personal expenses (telephone calls, laundry, etc.).

 

RATES 2017

Rates per person, based in double room occupancy


With transfers in & out and bilingual guide

Based in 1 participant: $1377 (This rate does include single supplement)

Based in 2 participants: $847

Based in 3-6 participants: $755

*Single Supplement: $25 per night, per person

 

With transfers in & out and spanish speaking bird guide

Based in 1 participant: $1122 (This rate does include single supplement)

Based in 2 participants: $714

Based in 3-6 participants: $643

*Single Supplement: $25 per night, per person

tour 1tour 2tour 3
tour 4tour 5tour 6

 


 

Day 1:

day 1

Time to escape from Quito for what will be a busy day of birding! Today we will want to rise early and get on our way since we have a variety of habitats that we will want to explore. Our drive to Guango Lodge will initially lead us through the drier central valley where we will pass through a mix of agricultural zones and native chaparral forests before rising up steeply to the high and (often) windswept paramo. Among the many bird possibilities, we will be particularly on the lookout for Andean Condor (sometimes hard), Carunculated Caracara, Andean Gull, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Scrub & Blue-and-yellow Tanagers and Southern Yellow-Grosbeak. If there were a day to have your camera ready, this would be it – on clear days the scenery is spectacular, with superb views of the snow-capped Volcán Antisana, and seemingly endless high Andean mountain-scapes harboring a backdrop of textures that make for an unforgettable birding setting. This area, known as the Papallacta Pass by birders, is rich in paramo birdlife, and with the proper weather, you can expect to see some of the following: Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Tawny Antpitta, Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, some interesting seedeaters, and even Giant Conebill (with a bit of luck, up in the Polylepis woodlands). The Papallacta Pass is right on the continental divide, and once we finish up with our paramobirding, we will work our way down the east-slope – Amazonian drainage now – towards Guango Lodge. On the way we will pass through some beautiful high-elevation temperate forests where we will have a chance to stop and soak in this birdy zone; some of the possibilities include Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Viridian Metaltail, Red-crested Cotinga, Black-backed Bush-Tanager, just to name a very few. We aim to arrive to Guango Lodge for a hot, sit-down lunch, where the hummingbird feeders that will be dripping with species such as Tourmaline Sunangel, Sword-billed Hummingbird and White-bellied Woodstar.

 

After lunch we’ll devote our afternoon birding to the trails and spectacular hummingbird feeders at Guango Lodge. On the grounds at Guango we frequently run into some of the best temperate forest flocks on any of our tours in Ecuador; in a matter of minutes it isn’t uncommon to see Bar-bellied Woodpecker, White-banded Tyrannulet, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-capped and Black-eared Hemispingus, Slaty and Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, several species of mountain-tanager and even Plushcap. We will always have our eye out for other particularly local or aesthetic highlights, and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan and Mountain Avocetbill are among them.

 

Before it gets too late it will be time to turn our sights down-slope for an 1 ½ hour drive to Cabañas San Isidro. We will shoot to arrive in time to get settled into our rooms and even try and spotlight a Rufous-bellied Nighthawk at dusk before what will certainly be a delicious dinner. Assuming the weather cooperates, we will want to try a short night walk after dinner - right between the cabins and the dining room - in search of the “mystery owl”. This is a gorgeous owl that may one day prove to be a new species to science. Night at Cabañas San Isidro.

 

Day 2:

day 2

We plan to start the morning off with some birding right around the lodge, where we often find it hard to pull ourselves away… the birds just sometimes keep coming. Some of the regulars include Montane and Olive-backed Woodcreepers, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Black-billed Peppershrike, Inca Jay, Bluish Flowerpiercer and Subtropical Cacique! After about an hour of this, we will want to visit the Antpitta feeders, where you will likely see White-bellied Antpitta only feet away, and maybe even the very rare Peruvian (!). The rest of the morning will be spent birding the ample trail system and forested roadside at Cabañas San Isidro, where Long-tailed Antbirds, Plain-tailed Wrens and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias await.

 

After lunch at the lodge (and possibly an afternoon break), we can choose any of the trails that sprawl out from the lodge (or even the roadside) for a second crack at flocks and other activity… quetzals or maybe a fruiteater anybody? The true beauty of the day is that we have no need for vehicle commutes - any longer than a few minutes - so birding along slowly on foot (surrounded by rich habitat) is something that we will take full advantage of.  We may even want to try a spot near the lodge for Andean Potoo and Rufous-banded Owl. Night at Cabañas San Isidro.

 

 

Day 3:

We will get up early and head to the Loreto Road (or to Coca Falls) where we will spend the day birding this scenic zone. In the eastern foothills the birding possibilities really explode, with a new sets of tanagers, antbirds, and others. Considering that this is one of the most biologically diverse spots on the planet we will want to spend a full day exploring these rich forested slopes. Assuming weather cooperates, we will have a long list of potential species. Here are some dreamy names to whet your appetite: White-backed Fire-eye, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Golden-eared, Orange-eared and Paradise Tanagers, and Golden-collared Honeycreeper. We might even luck into a fruiteater or two! We will want to bring along a packed lunch in order to take full advantage of our day in the field. Night at Cabañas San Isidro.

 

Day 4:

day 2Morning birding the beautiful Guacamayos ridge trail – only about 20 minutes from the lodge by vehicle - where some of the birds we hope to see include Green-and-black Fruiteater, Handsome Flycatcher, Rufous Wren, Turquoise Jay, Grass-green Tanager, a few species of skulking tapaculos (and maybe even an Ocellated) and Northern Mountain-Cacique. While not as common, but still regularly seen here, some of the other harder possibilities include Greater Scythebill, Dusky Piha and Black-billed Mountain-Toucan. The forest here is simply enchanting and an even that no birder wants to miss when visiting the San Isidro area. Depending on the guide’s plan for the day, we may enjoy one last meal at Cabañas San Isidro, or choose to bring along a box lunch for our birding drive back to Quito to give us a chance at cleaning-up some of the missed species we had searched for on the first day. Night in Quito.

 

The quote includes: Three nights full board at Cabañas San Isidro, extra box lunch on first day, entrance fees (Cayambe-Coca National Park and Guacamayos ridge trail), transportation and professional birding guide services according to option chosen (if you choose option 3 the itinerary will vary as you will not have a guide or transportation all days) and all taxes. The quote does not include: Extra drinks (sodas, beers, wines, etc.), insurance, Coca Falls entrance fee, extra expensesfor delayed baggage arrival, tips and other personal expenses (laundry, phone calls, etc.).

 

RATES 2017

Rates per person, based in double room occupancy


With transfers in & out and bilingual guide

Based in 1 participant: $1377 (This rate does include single supplement)

Based in 2 participants: $847

Based in 3-6 participants: $755

*Single Supplement: $25 per night, per person

 

With transfers in & out and spanish speaking bird guide

Based in 1 participant: $1122 (This rate does include single supplement)

Based in 2 participants: $714

Based in 3-6 participants: $643

*Single Supplement: $25 per night, per person