A journey through Ecuador’s varied landscapes to see the best of the country’s wildlife.
From volcanoes and snow-capped mountains to green valleys and impressive city sights, this itinerary is designed to show off the best of Ecuador’s prolific bird and wildlife, including maybe the Andean condor and elusive jaguar.
Today you will explore Quito’s colonial quarters on a half-day city tour - a journey through art and architecture as you uncover this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Days3-4: Discover Mindo Cloud Forest
Today you'll depart Quito and travel to Mindo Cloud Forest, first stopping at the brim of the crater of the dormant Pululahua Volcano, just north of the equator. The next stop will be Bellavista, deep in the heart of the cloud forest, where you'll immerse yourself in the cloud forest, along hiking trails that wind through this natural sanctuary. During the hike you can see brightly coloured tanagers and the mountain toucan. Enjoy lunch watching the hummingbirds hover around the feeders, and then continue to your lodge.
Accommodation: Septimo Paraiso Lodge, 1-night, then return to Quito, 1-night
Days5-6: Visit Papallacta region
Depart Quito for Papallacta Pass, travelling on the Cinnamon Trail, the route the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana took in 1542, when he crossed the Andean mountain range in search of spices and gold, only to discover the Amazon River. Enjoy walks on marked trails, or visit Papallacta's thermal spring pools.
Accommodation: Guango Lodge, 1-night, then return to Quito, 1-night
Days9-11: Fly to the Amazon
Transfer to Quito airport and fly east to the rather ‘ordinary’ town of Coca. A short transfer takes you to the river port where you board a motorised canoe for your journey down the mighty Rio Napo into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon forest. The final stretch of your journey will be Indian dugout that will take you right to the your lodge.
Once at your chosen lodge you will explore on foot and by boat in the company of a knowledgeable naturalist guide, and learn about the rainforest. Among the birds you may see are harpy eagle, the world’s second largest bird of prey, many tiny multi-coloured hummingbirds, as well as parrots and toucans, with their brilliantly-coloured plumage and typically long bills. In addition to a profusion of flowers, many medicinal plants are found in the forest, and on jungle hikes native guides will show you how to identify these and explain, or demonstrate, their various uses.
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 daysfrom £4,245 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 daysfrom £3,245 pp
Single supplement: From £1,545
When to go: Jan-Dec
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
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.
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.
Ideal for viewing: blue and yellow macaw, harpy eagle, jaguar, three-toed sloth, capybara
Excellent for: Birdwatching
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
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.
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Located at 2,700 metres above sea level, near the hot springs of Papallacta, this lodge is a paradise for hummingbirds and other wildlife. Guests can explore scenic trails among the forest-covered mountains, enjoy photographic opportunities at the bird feeders and discover the diverse plant life in the orchid garden.
The Patio Andaluz is a lovely, boutique hotel located right in the heart of the old city, and was declared a National Monument by UNESCO in 1978. It has 32 elegant rooms, each decorated with traditional woodwork and furnishings, a restaurant specialising in national and Spanish cuisine, a cava bar and a library.