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Join Naturalist Journeys on this exciting and bird-filled Ecuador birding tour. The Andes Mountains of Southern Ecuador are a highly complex system of mountain-ridges and valleys, providing a great variety of habitats within a small geographic area. For decades, birders have recognized the region’s rich biodiversity; now lodgings at the Jocotoco Foundation Reserves make it possible to stay in incredible places with nature close at hand.

We stay in two Jocotoco Foundation reserves, at Buenaventura, in the foothills of the western side of the Andes, and at Tapichalaca, adjacent to the magnificent Podocarpus National Park on the upper montane from eastern Ecuador. The delightful Copalinga Lodge affords us access to the subtropical areas of Podocarpus National Park. Finally, we enjoy the windswept paramos of Cajas National Park.

At Buenaventura we have the chance to see the beautiful and scarce El Oro Parakeet, only discovered in 1980. Here we can also find the elusive and iconic Long-wattled Umbrellabird. At Tapichalaca Reserve we look for the stunning Jocotoco Antpitta, discovered only in 1997! We should see large mixed flocks of some of the most colorful tanagers on the continent. Peppered among the flocks are manakins, flycatchers, fruiteaters, becards, and more. The extension of Podocarpus National Park protects the largest remaining patches of Polylepis forest in south Ecuador, as well as the high terrain of the paramo. Perhaps (with luck) we find Spectacled Bear!

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Arenillas National Park for Tumbesian endemics, including White-tailed Jay, Collared Antshrike, and Peruvian Pygmy Owl
  • Bird at the Jocotoco Foundation’s Buenaventura Reserve for the very local El Oro Parakeet and the elusive Long-wattled Umbrellabird
  • Search Tapichalaca Reserve for Jocotoco Antpitta, Gray-breasted Mountain, Toucan Golden-Plumed Parakeet, and White-capped Tanager
  • Witness the rich cloud forest of Podocarpus National Park as you look for the endemic Bearded Guan, Giant Conebill, Purple-throated Sunangel, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, and several tanagers
  • Stay in private casitas at Cabinas Ecologicas Copalinga, with hummingbirds in a feeding frenzy right outside your door
  • Witness Cajas National Park near Cuenca, where the high paramo is dappled with over 250 lakes

Photo credits: Banners: Marketplace by Peg Abbott; Spectacled Bear, courtesy Neblina Forest; Jocotoco Antpitta by Carlos Sanchez; Choco Toucan by Peg Abbott; Dusky-headed Parakeets by Greg Smith; Yellow-rumped Cacique by Bud Ferguson; Sparkling Violetear by Peg Abbott; Coati by Carlos Sanchez; Gray Tinamou by Carlos Sanchez; Immature Tiger Heron, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Sunbittern, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Butterflies by Carlos Sanchez; Birding Ecuador by Woody Wheeler.


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