Ecuador: Birds and Bears on the Equator – 10 days

Welcome to the breathtaking landscapes of Ecuador, where nature’s wonders await at every turn. Explore the enchanting cloud forests, majestic mountains, and pristine reserves that make this country a paradise for landscape and wildlife lovers.

Mindo Cloud Forest
Start your journey in the famed Mindo Cloud Forest, a haven for over 500 bird species. As you trek through the lush trails, keep an eye out for the vibrant plumage of hummingbirds, toucans, and tanagers. The elusive Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, with its vibrant orange plumage, is a sight to behold. With luck, you may even spot the rare and endangered Spectacled Bear, a symbol of Ecuador’s rich biodiversity.

Antisana and Cotopaxi Reserves
Venture further into the heart of the Andes, where the Antisana and Cotopaxi reserves beckon. These protected areas offer a glimpse into the unspoiled beauty of Ecuador’s high-altitude ecosystems. Antisana is home to the majestic Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world. Witness their graceful flight as they soar above the snow-capped peaks. In Cotopaxi, keep your eyes peeled for the Andean Gull, which nests on the shores of the stunning Limpiopungo Lake.

Ecolodge Experience
To fully immerse yourself in this natural wonderland, we will be staying in a few of the ecolodges scattered throughout these reserves. These eco-friendly accommodations not only provide a comfortable retreat but also actively contribute to the conservation efforts of the surrounding areas. Wake up to the melodious songs of exotic birds and fall asleep under a star-studded sky, knowing that your stay supports local communities and helps preserve Ecuador’s biodiversity.

Sustainable Tourism
As you explore these remarkable locations, remember that your visit goes beyond mere observation. By supporting local people, whether through staying in ecolodges or engaging with community-based tourism initiatives, you actively contribute to the sustainable development of these regions. Embrace the opportunity to learn from indigenous communities, discover their traditional practices, and share in their rich cultural heritage.

Get Ready for Adventure
So, pack your binoculars, charge-up your camera batteries, hop on a plane and embark on an unforgettable adventure through Ecuador’s bird-filled skies and bear-inhabited landscapes. Prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking beauty of these ecologically diverse reserves, as you make lasting memories and leave a positive impact on the local communities and ecosystems that make this country truly extraordinary. Ecuador packs a lot into a nice and neat package.

Tour Length
10 Days
9 Nights
Start / End City
Arrival: Quito, Ecuador
Departure: Quito, Ecuador
Best Season

September to November

Group Size Limit

10 Guests

Transportation

Vans and AWD vehicles

Accommodations

Hotels, Haciendas and Eco-Lodges

Challenge Level

Level 3 - Moderate

Highlights

  • Arrival in Quito with a nice city tour and welcome dinner.
  • Travel along the Avenue of the Volcanoes – 200 miles of volcanoes and Andean valleys .
  • Marvel at the high-altitude natural reserves of Antisana and Cotopaxi.
  • Capture the beauty and grace of exotic birds in the cloud forest of Mindo.
  • Search for the Andean Spectacled Bear in Maquipucuna Reserve and ecolodge.
  • Wander the historic streets of Ecuador where the Spanish established a colonial capital.
  • Enjoy the benefits of supporting local community-based tourism initiatives.
  • Feast on local and regional foods that are tasty, natural and support local families.

Prices

Our tour prices are based on a tiered pricing modelMore guests = lower price, per person.  That means the prices go down on a per-person basis as more people book onto a specific tour departure.  Prices are based on double occupancy / twin share basis.  All prices are in U$ Dollars.  

Contact us for guidance on a quote for your group or private trip.

Lowest Price7-10 travelers$ 4,185 / per person
Average Price4-6 travelers$ 4,565 / per person
Optimum Price2-3 travelers$ 4,990 / per person
Highest Price1 solo traveler$ 7,980 / for 1 person
Single Supplement Feeper person / per tour$ 875.00 / per single room
  • Single Supplement Fees are quoted per tour.  Contact us for details.
  • Deposit: $ 700.00/per person (non-refundable administrative fee, included in the final price).
  • International airfare is NOT included in price.
  • For airline tickets, contact Geo Travel at 210-225-7903

Daily Itinerary

Ecuador - Quito - Go Hotel

Day 1: AM arrival in Quito, Ecuador. PM city tour & welcome dinner

Welcome to Quito! A city where colonial charm blends seamlessly with modern vibrancy. Upon arrival, a friendly guide will greet you and escort you to your hotel, approximately a 45-minute drive, traffic permitting. Later, embark on a captivating city tour, delving into Quito’s rich history and cultural heritage. Wander through the UNESCO World Heritage site of the historic center, admire stunning colonial architecture, and immerse yourself in the tales these buildings tell. Visit iconic landmarks such as the Basilica del Voto Nacional, Plaza de la Independencia, and the San Francisco Church. Conclude your tour at El Panecillo, where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city. After settling into your hotel, attend an evening briefing to receive essential trip information. We conclude the day with a welcome dinner.

Hotel: Go Hotel Quito (5*)
Meals Included: D

*Breakfast and Lunch are not included.

230926_COL_SantaMarta_Mts_238

Day 2: Mindo Cloud Forest – Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Nocturnal Animals

We begin our journey with a two-hour drive northwest of Quito to the enchanting Mindo Cloud Forest, a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers. Explore the lush greenery and encounter a variety of colorful butterflies, including the Blue Morpho and the Glasswing, fluttering in the sunlight. Capture the magnificent display of hummingbirds, such as the Violet-tailed Sylph and the Booted Racket-tail, as they feed on vibrant flowers. In the afternoon, visit a local chocolate factory to learn about the process of making some of the world’s finest chocolate. As night falls, venture deeper into the forest to photograph nocturnal creatures like the Kinkajou and the tiny Olinguito.

Hotel: Terra Bambu
Meals Included: B, L, D

240509_Ecuador_Mindo_Birds_555

Day 3: Hummingbirds, Toucans, and Tanagers

Today starts early at 5:00 AM with a 30-minute drive followed by a 30-minute hike into the heart of the Mindo Cloud Forest. Here, you’ll witness the melodious songs of toucans and tanagers. Experience the incredible sight of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, with its brilliant orange feathers and unique mating rituals. Later, visit a nearby reserve to photograph more toucans and tanagers. In the afternoon, hike to Nambillo Waterfall for a refreshing break. Spend the late afternoon photographing birds from the hotel restaurant balconies.

Hotel: Terra Bambu
Meals Included: B, L, D

Portrait of a south american spectacled bear

Day 4: Spectacled Andean Bears in Maquipucuna Reserve

After breakfast, embark on a two-hour car journey to Maquipucuna, a pristine cloud forest teeming with wildlife, including the elusive Andean spectacled bear. Capture these majestic creatures on camera as you explore the dense vegetation. You may also encounter other fascinating species such as the Golden-headed Quetzal, the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, and the Blue-banded Toucanet. After dinner, participate in a nocturnal exploration to search for amphibians, insects, and possibly mammals.

Hotel: Maquipucuna Lodge
Meals Included: B, L, D

230920_COL_LagunaGuatavita_062

Day 5: Cloud Forest Exploration in Maquipucuna Reserve

Immerse yourself in the stunning natural surroundings of the Maquipucuna Cloud Forest. Focus on photographing a wide array of colorful birds, particularly toucans and hummingbirds. With over 349 bird species, this forest is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Look for toucanets, macaws, and an active Cock-of-the-Rock Lek. Enjoy birdwatching opportunities and short hikes that offer encounters with monkeys, tortoises, frogs, and various birds.

Hotel: Maquipucuna Lodge
Meals Included: B, L, D

230923_COL_Cienaga_Grande_237

Day 6: Hacienda Jimenita and Nature Reserve on the Equator

Drive one and a half hours to experience the unique sensation of standing on both hemispheres at the Equator. Visit a local family that has conducted extensive research on the Equator, and learn about the history and culture of ancient civilizations related to this landmark. After a traditional lunch, continue to the hacienda.

Hotel: Hacienda La Jimenita
Meals Included: B, L, D

230328_Chile_Patagonia_TDP_181

Day 7: Soaring Condors across the Antisana Reserve

After breakfast, drive for two hours to the Antisana Ecological Reserve. Witness the graceful flight of the Andean condor against a backdrop of vast landscapes and towering peaks. The reserve is also home to other avian species such as the Carunculated Caracara, Black-faced Ibis, and Andean Lapwing. In the afternoon, travel to the hacienda at the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park.

Hotel: Hacienda Tambopaxi
Meals Included: B, L, D

"The Giant" Cotopaxi volcano with a lenticular cloud in Ecuador. High mountains landscape background.

Day 8: Cotopaxi National Park and Hacienda Tambopaxi

Explore the iconic Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Capture the stunning vistas and rugged terrain. The Cotopaxi National Park is home to wildlife like the Andean Fox, Andean Deer, and Andean Gull. Enjoy breathtaking views of the snow-capped peak and the vast páramo ecosystem, a unique high-altitude grassland teeming with life. Relax in the afternoon while watching the sunset over Cotopaxi Volcano.

Hotel: Hacienda Tambopaxi
Meals Included: B, L, D

230306_SudLipez_AmigosViajero_346

Day 9: Cotopaxi National Park to Quito and farewell dinner

After soaking in the best views of Cotopaxi Volcano, travel back to Quito (a little over 2 hours), stopping for a traditional lunch en-route. Arrival in Quito in the afternoon and check-in to your hotel. We conclude the journey this evening with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate the natural beauty of Ecuador’s many ecosystems we visited and the warmth hospitality of the people we met along the way. Overnight in Quito.

Hotel: Go Hotel Quito (5*)
Meals Included: B, L, D

240501_Ecuador_Trek_Andes_009

Day 10: Quito - airport transfer day

During breakfast we get to reflect on the incredible memories and stunning images captured during our journey. In our brief visit we experienced many places and saw a great diversity of ecosystems, all beautiful in their own way, and captured photos that are keepsakes for our spirit.

At an appointed time, we will transfer you to the airport. Our departure schedule leaves the hotel three hours before your flight. The ride is just shy of an hour which should give you plenty of time to check into your international flight.

For domestic departures, it is recommended that we arrive at the airport 1.5 hours before your scheduled flight. For international departures, our goal is to arrive 2 hours before your flight to allow for necessary procedures.

Hotel: None

Meals Included: B (included with hotel reservation)

This concludes our services, and we wish you safe travels and fond memories of your remarkable journey in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.

Included

  • airport Transfers IN and OUT of your arrival city (Quito, Ecuador)
  • private vehicle and driver
  • bi-lingual photographer guide
  • all hotel / hostel / hacienda accommodations for all nights (based on double occupancy)
  • all daily meals as denoted on the itinerary as ‘B, L, D’ (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
  • all entry fees and permits to protected areas, national parks and museums
  • bottled water per person per day
  • snacks during the whole trip
  • more than 30 years of tourism experience

Not Included

  • international airfare to destination country
  • visa requirement and fees
  • personal expenses of any kind (liquor, laundry, personal purchases, etc.)
  • telephone, email, mobile phone, Wi-Fi services
  • emergency evacuation expenses
  • personal travel or health insurance, doctor visits
  • personal equipment and clothing
  • gratuities to guides, drivers and other personel

 

We, of course, would do whatever is necessary in case of medical emergency and evacuate to the closest hospital or clinic to make sure you receive medical care.