ECUADOR PART ONE:

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GENERAL INFO & SITE ACCOUNTS

PART TWO

 

PARTICIPANTS

Wilma & Jos Wanten; Reuver, The Netherlands – e-mail: jos.birds(at)hetnet.nl

Roland Holz; Otterstadt, Germany – e-mail: buddi-houtje(at)web.de

 

GENERAL

After an unsuccesful attempt in 2004 we finally managed to visit Ecuador which is to our opinion one of the birding hotspots of the world, if not the best. During the 16 days we had we saw the unbelievable number of 543 birdspecies and heard an additional 43 species. We saw amongst 67 hummingbirds, 9 trogons, 17 woodpeckers, 5 jays, 9 toucans, 14 woodcreepers, 13 antbirds, 71 flycatchers, 8 cotingas and 80 Tanagers!! The first three days at the coast were arranged directly through Hosteria Alandaluz http://www.alandaluzhosteria.com/  They also arranged all the transfers, the pelagic trip to Isla de la Plata and a birdguide the next day for a visit along the Ayampe River. From day four the tour was  arranged by Mindo Bird Tours http://www.mindobirds.com.ec/ Everything went very well and was perfectly arranged by MBT as well as Alandaluz. At least from birding point of view this was the most fantastic trip we ever made.

 

PREPARATIONS

As a result of being one of the worlds birding hotspots, information on the web is widely available. For reports you can check out the websites of http://www.birdtours.co.uk/ and http://www.travellingbirder.com/. General info is available at the very good website of http://www.fatbirder.com/, www.bsc-eoc.org/links/links.jspand and www.camacdonald.com/birding. Numerous European and US based touroperators offer birdtours on the web, and there are also a few Ecuadorian based touroperators. Ecuadorian based touroperators tend to be cheaper than US or European based. As a fieldguide we used the very good “The Birds of Ecuador” by Ridgely & Greenfield. We did not use any sound equipment because most of the tour we were accompanied by a professional birdguide who had all the stuff with him.       

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank the following people for their contribution and for making our trip such a huge success:

 

Hosteria Alandaluz for arranging the trip at the coast so well. Everything went smoothly from airport pickup in Guayaquil untill the transfer to Manta airport three days later.

Silverio Quimiz (silver_oriol25@hotmail.com) who was our birdguide during the birdingtrip along the Ayampe river. We were very much surprised about his great birding skills.

Jane Lyons from Mindo Bird Tours for arranging a perfectly organized trip and for being our host during our visit to Las Grallarias.

Edison Buenano (erbu_666@hotmail.com) who was our guide during the 13 days trip to the east and west slope. Edison is not only a very knowledgable birdguide but he is also great company.    

GENERAL INFORMATION

Despite being one of the smaller countries in South America (twice the size of England) the country boasts a staggering birdlist of about 1600 species. The birding is generally easy and within a few hours of travelling one can visit various different habitats from lowland forests to the paramo at 4300 mtr at Papallacta.  English speaking birdguides and lodges designed for birders are widely available. Apart from birds Ecuador attracts increasing numbers of nature lovers from all over the world being one of the world’s megadiversity hotspots. There are amongst 25000 species of vascular plants of which about 4000 species of  orchids. Another attraction are the numerous brightly coloured butterflies. About 4500 species occur. Ecuador is also a save country to travel in and the people are very friendly and helpful.

 

GETTING THERE

Flying with KLM was the best option for us as we wanted to visit the coast also. This gave us the option to get out of the plane in Guayaquil on the acces flight, and take the flight back home from Quito without being charged for extra costs. Strange enough flying from Germany (Duesseldorf and Frankfurt) via Amsterdam as we did was about € 120 cheaper then flying directly from Amsterdam. The price per ticket was € 830 including all taxes. Another option is flying with Iberia via Madrid.

 

GETTING AROUND

Road conditions on the main routes were generally good. An exception on this was the main road from Guacamayos down the east slope to Archidona which was under construction and in places in a very poor condition. Also a short section of the main road near Papallacta village was very poor. Side roads are generally unpaved and sometimes in bad condition with lots of potholes. As our transport was all pre-arranged we did not use any public transport. However bus connections seem to be frequent and cheap as are domestic flights. We flew from Manta to Quito with Icaro and paid USD 55 for a one way ticket. Rental cars are more expensive than in Europe or the US. 

 

WEATHER

Ecuador’s climate consists of wet and dry seasons with significant variations among the different geographical regions. The dry season at the coast is from May to December, on the west slope from June to October and at the east slope from November to March. So there is not really an ideal period to go. In the Andes the weather is unpredictable especially at higher altitudes but in general we were very lucky and had few rain. During our stay at the coast we had dry weather but mostly overcast at temperatures at about 20-23 degrees C. The only rain of any significance at the east slope was one morning at Huacamayos, and at the west slope one afternoon in Mindo Valley.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS & FOOD

Accomodations are widely available and range from budget hostels to top-end hotels. There are also lot’s of ecolodges that cater nature minded tourists and birders. For our three days at the coast we contacted Hosteria Alandaluz which was a very good choice. This eco-friendly lodge is mainly built of bamboo and has good clean cabins with private shower in a garden along the coast. They also arrange transfers and excursions on request. The food at Alandaluz is really outstanding especially the seafood. The rest of the tour was pre-arranged by MBT and we mainly stayed in good lodges that cater birders. One exception was hotel Orchid’s Paradise near Archidona which was a bit rundown (especially the rooms) but this was the only option to stay close to Loreto road. The hotel also had the disgusting habit of keeping monkeys, ocelots and birds in small cages.

 

SITES VISITED

 

Isla de la Plata: a small island about 30 km off the coast near Puerto Lopez which is an important breeding area for boobies and frigate birds. It also holds the only nesting populations of Waved Albatrosses along the coast. From June to September one will find humpback whales during the 11/2 hours boattrip to the island.

 

Ayampe River Valley: a very birdy trail along this moist river valley produced 83 species of birds of which 21 were tumbesian endemics. The area surrounded by moist forests is complety different to the rather dry forests along the rest of the coast. This is a place not to miss if you visit the coast.

 

Papallacta area: unique high paramo with lots of specialty birds.

 

Guango Lodge: lodge at an altitude of 2700 m in the temperate zone reached from Papallacta within a 45 minutes drive. Lots of hummingbirds at the feeders and other special birds along the river and forests in the back of the lodge.

 

San Isidro: good roadside birding along the tracks at the east slope at an altitude of about 2200 m. A place not to miss on the east slope.

 

Huacamayos Ridge: trail along a ridge about a 30 minutes drive beyond San Isidro famous for amongst Greater Scythebill. The place is also great for Antpittas and woodcreepers.

 

Loreto Road: road connecting the Tena-Baeza road with Coca. Excellent roadside birding in the transition zone between the lowlands and the eastern slope foothills.

 

El Para Reserve: site near Archidona at an altitude of about 500 m. Excellent stop to pick up some lowlands species.

 

Yanacocha Reserve: high altitude cloud forests at about 3300 m just one hour north-west of Quito. Good trail along a ridge with great sceneries and great birds. The reserve has many hummingbird feeders. Yanacocha is the only place in the world where the highly endangered Black-breasted Puffleg occurs.

 

Old Nono-Mindo Road: great roadside birding along the old road connection between Quito and Mindo. Great cloudforests.

 

Pedro Vicente Maldonado: site about a 1¼ hours drive west of Mindo at an altitude of 500-800 m. Great to pick up some western lowlands species. Excellent roadside birding.

 

Milpe Bird Reserve: excellent birding between Mindo and PVM near the town of Los Bancos. Altitude 900-1100 m. Good for tanagers and Toucans.

 

Tandayapa/Bella Vista: famous place in the north-western cloudforests ranging in altitude between 1600 and 2300 m. Great birding here.

 

Reserva Las Grallarias: reserve owned by Jane Lyons from MBT with a good trail system. Especially good for Antpitta’s.

 

Calicali: dry valley located on the main route between Mindo and Quito. One of the only places in the world for White-tailed Shrike-tyrant.

 

 

 


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