TiME for Birding for Conservation!
In conjunction with TiME and Jocotours
21 February – March 1st 2024
Tour at a glance:
Tour leaders – Jonathan Meyrav and Juan Carlos Figueroa
8 days of birding
Difficulty – Easy
Photography options – Very good
Flyways Birding and Nature is excited to join forces with TiME (This is my Earth) for a special birding tour for conservation in one of the most incredible birding countries in the world. Our tour is coordinated by Jocotours, which helps support Fundación Jocotoco, our conservation partners on the ground in Ecuador.
This is NOT your classic birding tour. TiME has been helping protect biodiversity hotspots in Ecuador and this tour aims to highlight the amazing work that is being done by Fundación Jocotoco in the region, present and future. The days (and some evenings) will be devoted to incredible birds and nature but the focal point of this tour is conservation and what we can do to give back to nature.
Our group will be joined by some leading ecologists and conservation biologists – Robert D. Holt, Clive G. Jones, Uri Shanas & Martin Schaefer – and this is a wonderful opportunity to hear from leaders in their fields, exchange ideas and help create awareness about the many opportunities to connect birding with conservation. The TiME website has more on the places, people, and organizations involved.
Besides the trip fee we will be asking our participants for a significant donation to TiME as a show of support for the projects on the ground and to help further secure the future of the Tapichalaca Reserve, home to the iconic Jocotoco Antpitta – the original raison d’être for the Fundación Jocotoco.
Click for our Full Program
Day 1 – Arrival in Quito
Upon landing at Quito International Airport we will be transferred to Hostería San José de Puembo. Once everyone assembles we will enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 2 – Quito, Mirador del Río Blanco to Canandé
Following breakfast we will depart Quito and start the journey to Canandé Reserve, making some stops on the way to enjoy some areas such as Mirador del Rio Blanco that has an amazing view of the river and feeders for beautiful tanagers and hummingbirds. While there, we will connect with some of the more common species such as Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Blue- gray Tanager, Ecuadorian Thrush, House Wren, Orange-billed sparrow, Rufous Motmot, Silver-Throated Tanager, Black-winged Saltator and others. Following an early lunch, we will set out towards Canandé Reserve where we will settle in at Chocó Lodge and have dinner. After dinner (and the daily checklist) those interested can join a short night walk in search of snakes, insects and other exciting night critters.
Days 3 & 4 – Canandé Reserve (Jocotoco Foundation)
During the next two days we will explore one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. Canandé Reserve is located in Esmeraldas Province of northwestern Ecuador, two hours from the town of Pedro Vicente Maldonado. Chocó lodge, where we stay, is situated at about 300m altitude — an ideal setting to experience the humid Chocó tropical forest.
There are 62 species of birds endemic to the Chocó eco-region. Of those, 37 can be found in Canandé Reserve. Species of interest include the Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Golden-chested Tanager, Rose-faced Parrot, Great Green Macaw, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Banded Ground-Cuckoo, Yellow-green Bush-Tanager, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, White-tipped Cotinga, Plumbeous Forest-falcon, Baudo Guan, and Black-tipped Cotinga. The enigmatic Sapayoa can be seen, along with the Chocó Poorwill and the Great Jacamar.
The region is also fantastic for mammals. Camera traps have revealed the presence of four feline species in the reserve — Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot and Margay. There are also Pecaries and Red Deer, plus three species of monkeys — Howler monkeys, Brown-headed Spider monkeys and White Capuchins. Protected amphibians such as the Kiki, the Horned Marsupial Frog and glass frogs are also found in the reserve.
Fundación Jocotoco established the Canandé Reserve to protect one of the most important and threatened biodiversity hotspots, the Chocó, known as the non-Amazonian locality with the largest herpetofauna in the world. In 2022, TiME raised funds to help Fundación Jocotoco acquire additional critical connecting habitat in this area.
Day 5 – Canandé, Sachatamia, San Tadeo, Guaycapi back to Quito
Following an early morning birding session and breakfast at Canandé reserve, we will start the journey back to Quito. We will, of course, stop for birding on the way and have time to explore Sachatamia, where we will have lunch. We will visit San Tadeo, a beautiful “garden for the birds” owned by Rolando, a member of the local community, who has worked very hard to transform this piece of land into an amazing birding hotspot. There are some very interesting species to be found here such as the Beryl Spangled and Black Capped Tanager. In the Upper Tandayapa valley we will try to see the spectacular Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Gorgeted Sunangel, Collared Inca, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Grass-green Tanager, Dusky Chlorospingus (Bush-Tanager), Plain-tailed Wren, Ocellated Tapaculo, Pearled Treerunner, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Red-headed Barbet and Toucan Barbet.
In the afternoon we will stop at the beautiful Mirador Guaycapi to enjoy local coffee and search for new species. We return to Hostería San José de Puembo in Quito for dinner and accommodation.
Day 6 – Fly Quito to Loja, Vilcabamba, Tapichalaca Reserve, Valladolid area
We will depart early from Quito, flying to Catamayo airport near Loja. We will be met at the airport by our new driver and make our way to Tapichalaca Reserve with some mandatory birding stops on the way. We will search for some key species such as Drab Seedeater, Tumbes Sparrow, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Red-hooded Tanager, Bearded Guan, and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan. We expect to arrive at the Tapichalaca Reserve in the afternoon and should have time to explore the bird-rich grounds around the lodge, Casa Simpson.
The first impression will be the presence of many Hummingbirds at the feeders: Among them we will find Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Collared Inca, Little Sunangel and the amazing Long–tailed Sylph. Meals and overnight stays will be at Casa Simpson in Tapichalaca Reserve.
Days 7 & 8 – Tapichalaca Reserve (Jocotoco Foundation)
The famous Tapichalaca Reserve, run by the Jocotoco Foundation, was founded in 1998 to protect the sensitive habitat of the Jocotoco Antpitta, a species whose total known population has remained at about twelve pairs since they were discovered at Cerro Tapichalaca by Dr. Robert Ridgely in 1997. We will spend a full day birding the trails of Tapichalaca Reserve, starting at the Jocotoco Antpitta feeder.
Besides the Antpitta, the reserve is home to an amazing variety of endemic species. We will spend time searching for Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Orange-banded Flycatcher, White-throated Quail-dove and White-capped Tanager, among others. In the afternoon we may bird along the road below the lodge towards the town of Valladolid where occasionally Chestnut-crested Cotinga can be seen, or else spend more time around the lodge.
In the afternoon of day 8 we will make our way to the town of Loja for the night, with dinner and accommodation at the Sonesta hotel.
Day 9 – Catamayo, flight to Quito, Chakana Reserve and a special farewell dinner
Very early in the morning we will be transferred to Catamayo airport to take the morning flight back to Quito. After a short rest we will head up to Chakana Reserve. The road takes us up through the great scenery of the Ecuadorian High Andes. This beautiful road borders the national protected area of Antisana National Park and the Fundación Jocotoco’s Chakana Reserve. We will spend the remainder of the day in the Highlands at altitudes of 3500-4100 Meters. We will keep our eyes to the sky in search of the mighty Andean Condor, one of the most impressive vultures in the world, and other raptors such as Carunculated Caracara and Variable Hawk. This unique landscape is home to other endemic species such as Giant Hummingbird and the beautiful Ecuadorian Hillstar. We will spend some time touring the Paramo to enjoy the views, landscapes and native flora. With some luck we may see the amazing Spectacled bear, the real relative of Paddington Bear. We will enjoy a delicious traditional lunch at Casa Antisanilla and return to Quito in the afternoon. Our trip ends with a special farewell dinner at Hostería San José de Puembo, where we spend our last night.
Day 10 – Departure
We leave beautiful Ecuador, with airport transfers based on your international flight schedules.
Tour Price: $3420
Single Supplement (where applicable): $400
Price includes: All accommodation and transport in Ecuador including flights; all meals from dinner, day 1, including beer/wine with dinners; guiding and entry fees; tips for local guides, drivers and lodge staff.
Price excludes: International flights; extra alcoholic beverages; personal items; tips to tour leaders.
Important: Due to limited lodge space, nights at Chocó Lodge and Casa Simpson require sharing double rooms. Single room supplement is available at Quito and Loja hotels.
DONATION TO TiME – $2500 suggested minimum
The donation will help TiME raise funds for the acquisition of a biodiversity hotspot in Tapichalaca for the Fundacion Jocotoco to manage. The donation is to be paid separately when the Tour Price is paid, and is tax deductible to the extent allowed by US law.
Please click the “Place Donation” button to complete the donation. This is My Earth is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity registered in New York State, United States. IRS Tax Identification Number: 47-5499709.