From Choco to the Ecuadorian Amazon

Technical characteristics

Description of the circuit : Discover the Andean Choco, the last UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with this impressive biodiversity in a so small place, and then head to the amazon bassin.

Travel Theme : Nature observations and photography

Group : 12

Duration : 9 days

Arrival city : Quito

Departure city : Quito

Physical Level : None to moderate

Accommodation : Eco-Lodge

Day 1: Quito - Tandayapa valley

Early in the morning, your guide and transport will pick you up from your hotel to head towards the northwestern Andean region. The road that connects the Ecuadorian capital to the Pacific coast crosses different altitudinal gradients and very well-preserved Chocó ecosystems. By descending through these different forests, we will be able to better understand the importance of the Andean topography and its multiple effects on the region's high biodiversity.  After 1h30 we will arrive at the confluence of the Alambi and Tandayapa river valleys, where we will have a first stop. One of the oldest hummingbird gardens in the region was built here. Several of dozens of species have been recorded in this small garden, where floral arrangements and drinking stations are the greatest attraction for both observation and photography. We will have lunch with the instigator of the project who will tell us a little about his experience.  In the afternoon we will start our ascent along the Tandayapa valley to the cloud forests of the Bellavista reserve. The largest proportion of this private conservation area, anchored in the Andean foothills, consists of a large cloud forest inhabited by a surprising and photogenic flora and fauna: tree ferns, reptiles, nocturnal mammals, heliconias, amphibians and a multitude of birds.  After dinner, we will sit quietly in front of the observation area where, every night, curious and stealthy nocturnal mammals such as foxes, Nasuas, Tayras and the newly described Olinguito de neblina (Bassaricyon neblina).

Night in the Lodge of Bellavista - link)

Included: Lunch and dinner. Specialized guide. Transport. Entrance to the reserve.

Day 2: Bellavista Cloudforest Reserve

Before breakfast, we will have the opportunity to start discovering the avifauna of these atypical forests. Around the cabins, early in the morning a multitude of insectivorous birds congregate to feed on the exhausted insects of so much fluttering in the lights of the Lodge. We will spend the rest of the day exploring the different trails, ridges and ravines of the reserve. We will try to understand the importance of the conservation of these humid montane forests, interpreting the ecological system of this complex ecosystem of the upper Chocó.  We will have the opportunity to observe and photograph a large number of birds such as Toucans, Tangaras, Flycatchers and Trogons.  Being a superior altitudinal floor, we will be able to observe near 15 different species of hummingbirds and to perfect our techniques of photography around the drinking stations. The rest of the day will be dedicated to exploring the different trails of the reserve or simply resting on the different terraces of the Lodge. At dusk we will be able to go out again in search of insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals.

Overnight in the same Lodge of Bellavista.

Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. specialized guide. Transport. Entrance to the reserve.

Day 3: Paz de las Aves and Antisana

Today we will have an early breakfast to continue our trip to the Paz de las Aves reserve. Here, from 6 a.m., you can enjoy an unforgettable natural spectacle. In the "Lek", the males of the Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruviana), enter in a frenetic competition to attract the females with their songs and dances, placing themselves strategically in the growing light of the sun, to show off their bloody plumage. Angel and Rodrigo, the owners of the reserve, are passionate about avifauna and will accompany us to teach us a number of rare understory species that are difficult to observe normally, such as Antpittas and WodQuail During the delicious typical brunch, served on the terrace in front of the reserve, we will take a moment to share the family's experience in this conservation and local development project. In the afternoon we will return to the main road to return to the city of Quito.  Depending on the weather and timetables, we can make a stop in the xerophytic vegetation zones of the inter-Andean valley or in the upper part of Pululahua, the third largest inhabited volcanic crater in the world. We will then cross the entire inter-Andean valley up to the eastern mountain range. Arrival near the Antisana reserve in the late afternoon.

Dinner and night in a rustic Hacienda (Tambo Condor-Link).

Included: Breakfast, Brunch and dinner. specialized guide. Transport. Entrance to the reserve.

Day 4: Volcano Antisana

The high steppes and the multiple cliffs and streams of this 120mil hectare state reserve are the best natural scenery for the observation of Andean species and in particular of the Condor. Its landscapes, besides being considered one of the most impressive in the region, constitute an important zone for the conservation of water resources.  During this journey we will visit the Andean steppes in search of the most emblematic bird of the Andes. We will also look for the white-tailed deer (ssb sustus), the Andean fox (ssb reissii) but also the Ecuadorian star (ssp. jamesonii), one of the hummingbirds with the highest altitudinal distribution in America. At the foot of the majestic stratovolcano, the plains of acola vegetation also host the only population of Bandurria de Collar in the country. The plant formations alternate here between tapestries of gentians, herbaceous paramo, Polylepis and Pumamaqui groves (Oreopanax) and wetlands from where you can hear the song of the marsupial frogs (Gastroteca sp.). The mica lagoon at the end of the road is one of the largest water reserves for the Ecuadorian capital. The lunch, will be the opportunity to observe some of the hummingbirds of high altitude and perhaps the rare spectacled bear.  Return to Quito in the afternoon.

Free dinner and night near Quito airport. (Hacienda su Merced - Link)

Included: Breakfast and lunch. Guide and transportation.

Day 5: Quito - Coca - Sani Lodge

The flight to the Amazon from Quito airport overflies a large part of the Cordillera Andina Oriental before reaching the Amazonian oil port of Coca. Your local guide will give you a quick introductory talk before heading towards the banks of the Napo river, the most important Ecuadorian tributary of the Amazon River. We will embark on board of our motorized canoe for 3h00 of navigation downstream, during which you will be able to begin your observations of Herons, Vultures, Turtles, Monkeys, ... Arriving at the Quichua community of Sani Isla, we will walk 20 minutes to reach the black water channels where a new short navigation in a rowing canoe, will allow us to reach the lodge of Sani. The location of this lodge in the middle of the jungle which will allow us to discover this incredible ecosystem from the first day. After installing ourselves, we will be able to walk around the black water lagoon to make our first observations of primates, snakes, aquatic birds, bats and with a bit of luck giant otter.

Night in lodge all comfort.

Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included. Local guide and transportation.

Day 6: The Yasuni clay licks (or saladeros)

After an early breakfast, we will return to the edges of the Napo River where we will observe a large number of parrot species on the clay walls of the clay licks such as the Blue-headed Parrot and the Dark-headed Parrot. A spectacle full of colours and sounds. Depending on the activity we will have the option of visiting a second clay lick, we will observe other different species of parakeets and parrots, inside the Yasuni National Park, one of the most emblematic biodiversity hotspots on the planet. After this photo session we will return to the lodge making a stop at Challuacocha Lagoon to explore its raparian vegetation in search of bromeliads, orchids, caimans, anacondas and many waterfowl. In the afternoon we will walk looking for primate species such as the Squirrel Monkey, the Black Saki and the Titi monkeys. After dinner we can go out to look for boas, other nocturnal snakes and amphibians.

Overnight at the lodge.

Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included and Local Guide

Day 7: Observation tower

Early breakfast. After a trip on the lagoon of Challuacocha and a short walk, we will arrive at the foot of an imposing Ceibo where an impressive tower of observation was constructed. From the canopy of this emblematic tree at almost 38m high, we will have a captivating view of the high plant stratum of the Amazonian tropical rainforest. From there a new perspective of observation will allow us to observe with the telescope, many species of macaws, toucans, cotingas, birds of prey and tanagers. When the weather is sunny, groups of howler or woolly monkeys are common. We will also be able to see mixed flocks of Tangaras, very colourful birds along with woodpeckers and oropendolas, as well as different species of lizards and epiphytes. Our native guide will help us better understand the functioning of this complex and diversified ecosystem. In the afternoon we will take our boat for a walk, in search of the singular Saki monkey.

Night at the lodge

Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included and Local Guide

Day 8: Terra Firma and Varzea

New morning breakfast to take advantage of the best light and the best observations in the different biota of this medium. We will explore Terra Firme and Varzea, the two most important Amazonian ecosystems in the country. Depending on the season and rainfall, the clayey and oligogenic soils near the rivers are flooded in different ways according to their topography. The acidity of the soil has generated a very different vegetation cover between them. Within each vegetation a unique and endemic fauna was adopted that will surprise us with its versatility.  All these lands near the Lodge belong to a Quichua Canelos community who integrated a great deal of knowledge about Pacha Mama (Mother Nature) where they try to continue living together with the utmost respect.

Night in the Lodge.

Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included and Local Guide

Day 9: Sani - Coca - Quito

We will get up early to take advantage of the last morning around the lodge. We will then leave the lodge for a canoe ride across the lagoon to the banks of the Napo River, where our motor boat will be waiting for us for a 3-hour trip to the city of Coca. We will arrive at Coca at noon and catch our plane back to the capital. If the weather allows it, we will be able to observe during the flight a great part of the Amazon and some of the volcanoes of the Eastern Andean Cordillera. Arrival in Quito in the afternoon.

Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner not included

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From Choco to the Ecuadorian Amazon

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Net price per person depending on group size

Choose Number of people: Price Per Person: $1 880.00

Our prices include
  • Pick up from your hotel
  • Private transport
  • Private English speaking guide
  • All meals mentioned in the program
  • Entries in different site and visited reservations
  • Accommodation in double rooms (standard category)
Our prices not include
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks
  • Tips
  • Personal effects
  • Single supplement (405.00usd)
  • Transfer fees
  • VAT (12%) customers only for residents and Ecuadorians
Our travelers speak about this trip:

Tailor made trip inspired on this tour.

"Thank you for this journey that has delighted us in every way. It was our first guided naturalist trip and it allowed us to discover from the inside a little known country. We have plenty of memories in mind: the hummingbirds' ballet, the colorful birds, the breathtaking scenery, the condors flying, the Yasuni village (not planned), the beauty of the… View the comment