Ecuador (Mainland and Galápagos) Birding Tours
Due to its relatively small size and the diversity of its natural habitats and unique ecosystems in the Neotropics, such as the high Andean mountains, páramos, volcanos including Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, the Pacific rainforest (Chocó), the Amazon Rainforest, and the legendary Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is one of the most megadiverse countries in the world.
With a list of 1705 bird species, 13 of them endemic to the mainland and 31 to the Galápagos Islands, and several regional endemics together with the high diversity of wildlife and flora, it has meant Ecuador has been a top location for birders and eco-travelers for at least the last 40 years. Therefore it is not surprising that the country has developed a good birding and eco-tourism infrastructure and that its facilities are pioneering in South America by offering visitors a good selection of private birding reserves, top-quality lodges, and an amazing set of hummingbird feeders all over the country. Ecuador still possesses the record for the most hummingbird species on a birding trip; an amazing 75 species have been recorded during a three-week birding tour!
Today one can reach Mariscal Sucre International Airport, serving Quito, with direct flights from several airports in the world, and after just a two-hour drive reach the world-famous Tandayapa Valley, considered one of the top 100 birding sites of the world. With species like Toucan Barbet, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, White-faced Nunbird, Choco Toucan, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Moss-backed Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Club-winged Manakin, Sunbittern, Ocellated Tapaculo, Masked Trogon, Golden-headed Quetzal, plenty of striking species of hummingbirds such as Empress Brilliant, Violet-tailed Sylph, Velvet-purple Coronet, and Gorgeted Sunangel, Powerful Woodpecker, Olivaceous Piha, Dusky Pigeon, and Black-and-white Owl, to name just a few, this valley located in northern Ecuador is a true birding paradise, where you can spend a week getting lifers, taking photos, or falling in love with Neotropical birds.
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The Mindo area is similarly famous and species-rich and also synonymous with Mr. Angel Paz, who was the first person who dared to feed one of the most difficult families to observe in the Neotropics, antpittas, to the point that now with a little luck they can be watched only meters from the observer while feeding on earthworms. Giant Antpitta, Moustached Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, and Rufous-breasted Antthrush are frequent visitors to these feeding stations.
Over the famous Papallacta mountain pass one reaches the eastern slope of the Andes to look for the endemic subspecies of Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and visit Antisana Ecological Reserve, where Andean Condor and Andean Ibis are important targets. The famous Cabañas San Isidro host Black-banded Owl (once thought to be a different species, “San Isidro Owl”), White-bellied Antpitta, Andean Potoo, Torrent Duck, White-capped Tanager, and Crested Quetzal. The Wildsumaco Lodge located in the tropical foothills at the base of the Sumaco volcano is another mega site, providing species such as Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, Grey-tailed Piha, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Plain-backed Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Yellow-throated Toucan, a large collection of colorful tanagers, and a fantastic set of hummingbirds including Napo Sabrewing, Ecuadorian Piedtail, and Wire-crested Thorntail.
In addition to this incredible northern Ecuador route the country offers you the chances to do more than one journey, such as the southern Ecuador tour, a trip developed for more intrepid birders who are in search of jewels like Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Jocotoco Antpitta, El Oro Parakeet, Orange-throated Tanager, Grey Tinamou, Bearded Guan, and Golden-plumed Parakeet.
A Galápagos Islands cruise is a dream of every birder and naturalist since the times of Charles Darwin. Our Galápagos cruise lets us explore San Cristobal, Floreana, Española Baltra, Santa Fe, Santiago, Bartolomé, Isabela, and Santa Cruz, focusing on the wonders of this archipelago such as large colonies of Waved Albatrosses, Swallow-tailed and Lava Gulls, Blue-footed, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbird, Galapagos Penguin, Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos Hawk, Magnificent Frigatebird, the amazing set of 14 endemic finches of the islands, Galapagos Dove, the Galápagos subspecies of Short-eared Owl and Marine Iguanas.
The Amazon speaks for itself as the heart of diversity of the planet, and the forest located along the Napo River holds great species of birds, including Black-necked Red Cotinga, Hoatzin, Sunbittern, Sungrebe, White-plumed Antbird, the elusive Zigzag Heron, several canopy dwellers such as Black-headed Parrot, White-throated Toucan, Curl-crested Aracari, and with luck Harpy Eagle.
We invite you to check our selection of Ecuador tours and join our enthusiastic leaders in the next Birding Ecotours adventure. We also run day tours in Ecuador. Please visit our Ecuador Day Tours page for more info. You can also read through our Neotropical field guides blog to find our recommendation on which field guide to take with you to Ecuador.
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Testimonials from our Ecuador – Incl. Galápagos birding tours
We have travelled with Galo twice and had planned a third trip with him until world problems interfered. We have greatly enjoyed his company and good nature. He has been a tremendous guide with great ear for the bird calls and knowledge of all sites. He is very helpful and patient with us. He seems to anticipate our needs without our asking and adapts to our capabilities and interests. We look forward to travelling with him again.Barbara and Jim - On Galo and Ecuador
Galo and his driver Nestor were a dream team. They were very experienced and we saw ten times more birds and other wildlife than if we had tried to guide ourselves. We saw over 200 new birds including 49 different hummingbirds. The bird of the trip was the Cock-of-the-Rock (both east and west versions) while the Tayra (east and west versions) and Mountain Tapir showings were amazing. We would highly recommend this trip…and guide team.Tim and Kay - On Galo and northern Ecuador