Guided by Andres Vasquez.This was a set departure tour, and it included the High Andes extension.
It had been almost exactly a year since my last Ecuador Andes Introtour, and so I was only too happy to be guiding the first of 2017. We normally run at least four of these tours each year for good reason: almost 340 bird species recorded in just 6 days, to an extremely reasonably priced destination that gives rise to an almost unmatched bird/dollar ratio. Money aside, the quality of birds we find on this trip is also impressive, as we typically find some of the best birds in South America (as we did on this tour), like Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Toucan Barbet and Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, (all of which are possible on the first birding day of the tour); plus many of the most colorful Choco endemic bird species like, Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Glistening-green and Moss-backed Tanagers, and other highly sought after species, such as White-capped Dipper, Golden-headed Quetzal, SEVEN species of Antpittas (5 of which in a single morning at Refugio Paz de la Aves), and around 40 species of hummingbird. The High Andes Extension (just TWO extra days) adds 40-50 birds to the list including several of the regular favorites for the entire tour like, Andean Condor, Torrent Duck, Andean Ibis, Giant Hummingbird, and Masked Mountain-Tanager.
We saw all that, and many more; at the end we registered 381 species out of which 33 were heard only and just 5 were seen only by the tour leader. We visited renowned birding areas like the Tandayapa Valley, Yanacocha Reserve, Milpe and Silanche Bird Sanctuaries, Mashpi Amagusa Reserve, the unique Refugio Paz de las Aves, the cold but super Papallacta Pass and the Condor Capital of Ecuador, Antisana. Logistically, this tour is easy, since for almost the entirety of the main tour we use the wonderful Tandayapa Bird Lodge as a base to explore the surrounding Choco Region, visiting different elevations every day; so this means unpacking only once.