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Your holiday in Amazon begins in the historic city of Quito. Set in the Andean valley, surrounded by magnificent peaks, Quito makes for a picturesque start to your journey. Its historic colonial town center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has received a massive renovation drive in 2006 and restored to its former glory. The city is constantly buzzing with activity and you'll be tempted to start your exploration straightaway!
Our local representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to Hotel Café Cultura. The hotel is set in a beautiful heritage building that once belonged to one of Quito's oldest families. With its charming interiors, well manicured gardens, and inspirational food, it is no wonder that Hotel Café Cultura was listed as one of the three reasons to visit Ecuador by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Each room here has a unique decor inspired by the building's original architecture. The restaurant serves bistro-style international cuisine and is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike.
Start your day early and travel northwest from Quito, crossing the western slopes of the Andes range to reach Tandayapa. En route, visit Yanacocha Reserve, home to the black-breasted puffleg - a critically endangered, small species of hummingbird endemic to Ecuador.
Also keep an eye out for black-collared jays, barred fruiteaters, hooded, scarlet-bellied and, endemic black-chested mountain-tanagers. Have lunch in a colourful setting surrounded by foliage and hummingbirds. Then head for Maquipucuna Cloud Forest Reserve by late afternoon and check in to Maquipucuna Reserve Lodge.
Maquinpucuna Reserve Lodge is set within 6,000 hectares of rain forest, and managed by the Maquipucuna Foundation. The lodge hosts five bedrooms with shared bathrooms, three suites with private bathrooms, and a family cabin with private bathrooms. Relax on the porch and watch beautiful birds fly past you here, and then have a scrumptious meal prepared with fresh local ingredients, at the dining area.
Start your day with an early morning (5 a.m) hike along a trail close to the lodge to observe the area's amazing birdlife.
Maquipucuna Reserve is famous for a number of endangered and endemic species that inhabit the region. The reserve is located in the Choco Andean Corridor, which is one of the most famous biodiversity hotspots in the world. Maquipucuna is situated in the cloud forest region. The wildlife found in this reserve includes birds like the broad billed motmot, crimson-rumped toucanet, golden-headed quetzal, violet-tailed sylph, and the famous Andean cock-of-the-rock. Other animals found in Maquipucuna include the spectacled bear, agouti, anteater and armadillo. Many butterfly species can also be spotted here. You will also have an opportunity to witness and be part of the different conservation projects that the Maquipucuna Foundation manages here.
After breakfast, hike along one of the trails to explore and learn more about the Cloud Forest and its avifauna.
Later in the day, travel to Mindo, a region that is home to around 360 species of birds. Try to spot the maroon-tailed parakeet, toucan barbet, Nariño tapaculo, golden-headed quetzal, and golden and flame-faced tanager, amongst others here.
After lunch, go on a short hike around the area to spot the Choco toucan, scaled fruiteater, tanager-finch, club-winged manakin, bronze-winged parrot, sparkling violet-ear, Andean emerald, booted racket-tail, and long-tailed sylph.
Spend the night at Sachatamia Lodge. The lodge is set within 120 hectares of pristine cloud forest. It houses comfortable rooms and traditional wooden cabins, each with en suite facilities.
Early in the morning, travel to Angel Paz Reserve for a unique and amazing birdwatching experience. There is a 'must-visit' cock of the rock lek site here, where in the breeding season, the males vie for female attention by producing a characteristic sound, and flying like acrobats. After witnessing this amazing spectacle, move on to observe the giant antpitta and the yellow-breasted antpitta. The reserve gets its name from Angel Paz, one of the most famous experts on Andean birds.
After lunch, take some time out to observe hummingbirds in the feeders of your lodge, where it is also possible to see rare Choco endemics like the empress brilliant and velvet-purple coronet.
Start the day with an early morning birdwatching and nature walk. Keep an eye out for birds like the plate-billed mountain-toucan, crested quetzal, masked trogon, Choco toucan, and woodpecker. Other colorful species that you may also spot here include the blue-winged mountain-tanager, green and black fruiteater, and moss-backed tanager.
Return to Quito late in the afternoon.
After breakfast, travel to Antisana Ecological Reserve and visit Mica Lake to sight silvery grebes, Andean teals, Andean ducks, yellow-billed pintails, Andean coots and land birds like Aplomado falcons, Andean gulls, Andean lapwings, and carunculated caracaras. Still want more? Well, you also have a strong chance of spotting the majestic Andean condor, black-chested buzzard-eagle, variable hawk, bar-winged, giant conebill, and spectacled whitestart amongst many other species.
After that intense birdwatching session, head to your overnight accommodation through the Papallacta region. This area has well conserved patches of Polylepis forest and is an excellent place to observe high mountain birds. The 4000-meter high Páramo ecosystem is home to a fascinating group of high-altitude bird species.
Settle into your comfortable en suite room at Guango Lodge for the night. Watch colourful hummingbirds gather around feeders across the lodge and enjoy a nice home-cooked dinner.
Begin with an early morning birdwatching hike on the trails near your lodge. After breakfast, travel to San Isidro Lodge where you can look out for birds such as the black-chested fruiteater, long-tailed antbird, barred antthrush, and the little-known Peruvian antpitta. Surrounded by its own 1,900 hectare forest reserve, this lodge has a reputation for conservation. It houses comfortable, independent rooms with private bathrooms and hot showers.
After having a freshly prepared lunch, go for a nature walk around the lodge and observe many more of the area's birds. Another birdwatching walk is scheduled for after dinner, where you will look out for nightjars and owls.
Travel to Cordillera de Los Huacamayos this morning. This cloud forest region is famous for its special birdwatching trails. Go on your final hike on this tour along of these trails and spot black-billed mountain-toucans, white-bellied antpittas, bicolored antvireos, white-rimmed brush-finches, and many other fascinating birds.
Cordillera de Los Huacamayos (also called Cordillera de Los Guacamayos) is a 3,044 m tall range famous for its cloud forest. The name "Guacamayos" means "macaw". This area was once famous for its chestnut-fronted macaws and military macaws.
Later, return to Quito for the night.
After your exciting birdwatching adventure tour of Ecuador, it's time to transfer to Quito Airport for your flight home.
Fitness is vital for this level of activity, as the environment traversed may be remote and challenging. These rugged experiences include long walks, trekking, cycling or rafting in isolated areas through variable weather conditions for up to eight to ten hours a day. These trips are usually 13 to 19 days in duration. Maximum altitude reached will be 4000m and you need to be very fit in order to withstand the weather conditions. Good physical condition is essential and previous hill-walking experience or preparation is advisable.
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