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Wildlife Locations

12 recommended locations:

Cotopaxi National Park

This ecological sanctuary surrounds one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, and is easily visited as a day trip from Quito. Andean fox and puma frequent the park, and the rare Andean speckled bear is found on the eastern slopes. Birdlife is also plentiful, including orange-faced falcon and Andean gull.

  • Where: Cotopaxi Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean condor, Andean fox, carunculated caracara, great thrush, guanaco

Ecuador Amazon Puyo Region

The town of Puyo is the jumping off point for this part of the Amazon, with most lodges being accessed by light aircraft from here. You can explore on foot and by boat with naturalist guides, learning about the rainforest and its prolific birdlife. In addition to a profusion of flowers, many medicinal plants are found here.

  • Where: Pastaza Province
  • Ideal for viewing: harpy eagle, pink river dolphin, osprey, three-toed sloth, coati
  • Excellent for: River safaris

Ecuadorian Amazon

This vast rainforest east of the Andes protects more species of plant and mammal than any area of similar size. It is home to an astonishing repertoire of wildlife, including 15% of the world’s bird species. There are over 100 species of mammals, and a network of rivers, steams and lakes to explore by boat or canoe.

  • Where: Amazon
  • Ideal for viewing: blue and yellow macaw, harpy eagle, jaguar, three-toed sloth, capybara
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Galapagos Islands

Submarine volcanic activity caused this remarkable archipelago to rise from the seabed. Millions of years of isolation then allowed species to evolve through natural selection, creating a unique biological identity. There are no predators, so the animals know no fear – allowing close encounters.

  • Where: Galapagos
  • Ideal for viewing: blue-footed booby, Galapagos penguin, land iguana, marine iguana, giant tortoise
  • Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Birdwatching

Machalilla National Park

This Pacific Coast park became a Ramsar site in 1990, when recognized as a vital wetland. One third is ocean, a breeding ground for humpback whales, while the islands provide feeding areas for sea birds such as frigatebirds and boobies. On land you will find tropical dry forest, fog forest and coastal scrub desert.

  • Where: Manabi Province
  • Ideal for viewing: black howler monkey, humpback whale, brown pelican, poison arrow frog, waved albatross
  • Excellent for: Whale watching, Birdwatching

Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve

This private reserve is part of a bio-region that stretches along the Pacific slope of the Andes from Panama to Peru. Its rich ecosystem is home to 500 bird species, butterflies, amphibians and orchids which thrive in the moist conditions. An aerial tram offers a unique vantage point in the rainforest canopy.

  • Where: Pichincha Province
  • Ideal for viewing: glass frog, indigo flowerpiercer, moss-backed tanager, orange-breasted fruit-eater, peccary
  • Excellent for: River safaris, Birdwatching

Mindo Cloud Forest

This area of primary forest is considered to be one of the finest birding areas in South America. The varied terrain supports more than 400 species of birds, including the elusive Andean cock-of-the rock. There is a remarkably high number of endemic plants, and orchids, bromeliads and heliconias grow in abundance.

  • Where: Pichincha Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean cock-of-the-rock, club-winged manakin, long wattle umbrellabird, puma, torrent duck
  • Excellent for: River safaris, Birdwatching

Napo River & Yasuni National Park

The Napo River region and the biologically diverse Yasuni National Park lie at the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Bird species number around 600 and mammal diversity is very high, with numerous primates and predators. A motorised canoe down the Napo takes you into the heart of the rainforest and its creeks.

  • Where: Napo Province
  • Ideal for viewing: sungrebe, harpy eagle, tropical kingbird, howler monkey, capuchin monkey
  • Excellent for: Vehicle safaris

Papallacta & Antisana

Nestling at the foot of Antisana volcano, Papallacta’s scenery is spectacular with rocky peaks and a vast sweep of bleak páramo above the tree line. At Antisanilla you can see an impressive lava flow and a deep canyon where Andean condor are regularly sighted. Gentians and orchids surround the many lakes.

  • Where: Napo Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean lapwing, Andean teal, black-faced ibis, black-winged dove, carunculated caracara
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

The Cloud Forests

From the high mountain peaks down to the Pacific on the west and Amazon Basin on the east, the opposite slopes of the Andes form very different, yet diverse and ever-changing forest ecosystems. Both eastern and western slopes provide fascinating habitat for a great variety of birds and mammals.

  • Where: Ecuador
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean cock-of-the-rock, glass frog, rufous-tailed hummingbird, howler monkey, toucan barbet
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching


This beautiful area of lakes and mountains north of Quito is home to small indigenous communities with a way of life that has changed little for centuries. With colourful handicraft markets to explore, Otavalo makes a good day trip from Quito, or an overnight stay in a colonial hacienda.

  • Where: Imbabura Province
  • Excellent for: History & culture


Ecuador’s capital stands at an altitude of 2,850 metres on the slopes of the active volcano of Pichincha. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, the old town is very atmospheric, and several day tours are available, including the Mitad del Mundo monument on the equator.

  • Where: Pichincha Province
  • Excellent for: City stopover, History & culture

View trips to these locations

Wildlife trips

Straddling the equator, this land of startling contrasts extends from Amazon jungle across the desert-like páramo and snow-capped Andean volcanoes to the Pacific coastline. Wildlife enthusiasts can see a staggering number of species, many of which are endemic – there are 1,650 bird species alone.

4 recommended trips. Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.

Wildlife of Ecuador & the Galapagos

Combine two of South America’s finest wildlife destinations – the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands. View the outstanding variety of wildlife on walking trails and by boat from a luxury eco-lodge in the Amazon jungle, and cruise the unique Galapagos archipelago for close-up wildlife encounters.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,275 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Ecuadorian Odyssey

Take a journey through Ecuador’s varied topography to see the best of the country’s wildlife. Immerse yourself in the cloud forests of Mindo and follow hiking trails to see colourful tanagers and hummingbirds, before spending a few days in the Amazon jungle, home to an astonishing repertoire of wildlife.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,275 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Amazon & the Galapagos

Take a look at the fantastic wildlife of Ecuador with three days in the Amazon jungle in a private reserve, taking guided boat trips and enjoying bird’s eye views from the canopy walkway. A week’s cruise around the Galapagos Islands tops off the trip with close bird and marine life encounters.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 16 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9,195 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Galapagos & Ecuador in Style

Take a journey to the enchanting cloud forests of the Andes, staying in a unique biodiversity reserve, and viewing the varied wildlife from walking trails or a rainforest canopy. A luxury naturalist-led cruise in the Galapagos Islands offers emerald waters, rugged coves and a remarkable number of endemic species.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £8,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

When to go

You can visit Ecuador any time of year. The Andes can have ‘four-seasons-in-a-day’ weather, with many micro-climates and the Pacific coast and Amazon are humid all year round.


  • Year-round

    Jan to Dec: Ecuador can be visited year-round, with no discernable seasons

Wildlife events

  • Jul to Aug: Whales migrate along the coast, best time for whale watching

Where to stay