- Listen for birdsong in the Amazon rain forest, and identify a wide variety of species, from vibrant macaws to nightjars and spoonbills.
- Surround yourself with hummingbirds at Mashpi Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World situated in the heart of a wildlife-rich cloud forest.
- Ride an aerial bike through the treetops of the Chocó rain forest, and keep an eye out for caimans and other nocturnal creatures on a jungle night walk.
- Venture to the Andean town of Papallacta and soak in restorative hot springs.
Commemorate the Year of the Bird in 2018 with an unforgettable avian adventure in Ecuador—home to more than 1,600 species of birds. From the Amazon headwaters along the Napo River to the cloud forests of the Andes, venture into diverse habitats to spot an astounding variety of species. In the heart of Yasuni National Park, look for colorful parrots, parakeets, and macaws as you embark on nature hikes, dugout canoe trips, and canopy tours. Continue to the hot springs town of Papallacta to search for the majestic Andean condor. Cap off your expedition amid the lush rain forests of the Chocó region, searching for hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans, and more.
Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Fly over the eastern Andes on the first leg of your journey to the Napo Wildlife Center, located in the heart of Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park—a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Arrive in Coca, and travel by traditional dugout canoe to your lodge, navigating narrow streams and lakes and keeping your eyes open for monkeys, toucans, parrots, and macaws. Arrive at the lodge this afternoon and settle into your room. After dinner, embark on a night walk around Anangu Lake in search of caimans and other nocturnal creatures.
Rise early and head for a nearby parrot clay lick, where up to 11 different species of parakeets, parrots, and macaws feed on the mineral clay. Visit the indigenous Kichwa community of Anangu and spend time with a local family. Learn about their rich cultural traditions and discover how the Kichwa have mastered the art of sumak kawsay, or living a “good life” in harmony with the community and nature. Later, hike through the rain forest to another clay lick and search for more species of birds. Enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to the lodge late this afternoon.
After an early breakfast, depart for a nearby observation tower located in the heart of the rain forest. Soaring 12 stories above the ground, the tower and its surrounding platforms offer incredible opportunities for viewing the wildlife of the canopy. Look for the tanagers, macaws, toucans, and spider monkeys that live in the treetops and observe birds that are difficult to see from the forest floor. After lunch, hike through the primary forest searching for manakins, lizards, and the endemic golden mantle tamarin monkey. Hop into a dugout canoe and glide through the creeks around the lake, keeping your eyes open for otters and birds.
Depart the lodge early this morning, traveling back along the Napo River and searching for wildlife along the way. Return to Quito, then travel to Papallacta via the Cinnamon Trail—the route used by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana when he traversed the Andes in 1542 looking for gold and spices. Arrive at our hotel and take time to settle in before heading to the nearby Exploratorium research center to learn about endemic species of the Papallacta area. Unwind this afternoon with a soak in the hotel’s therapeutic hot spring pools.
Rise early for a walk in the Antisana Ecological Reserve. At this prime time for bird-watching, search for some of the 160-plus bird species that call this area home. This is an excellent opportunity to see the Andean condor, as well as the Andean black-faced ibis, carunculated caracara, stout-billed cinclodes, and Andean lapwing. In the late afternoon, opt to relax and rejuvenate in the thermal pools.
This morning, travel through dry valleys and verdant cloud forests on your way to Mashpi Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge set on a 3,200-acre private reserve in Ecuador’s Chocó rain forest. Upon arrival, enjoy an introductory talk by a naturalist. Then head out for a walk through the forest, and learn about the importance of protecting this fragile ecosystem. Keep a lookout for birds such as the moss-backed tanager, ornate flycatcher, and long-wattled umbrella bird. Tonight, attend a talk with one of Mashpi’s naturalists or resident biologists.
Start your morning with a hearty breakfast featuring fresh fruit, organic honey, and homemade jam. Visit the lodge’s hummingbird garden, where 19 types of hummingbirds have been spotted. Next, hike to the Dragonfly cable car, an innovative treetop gondola. Soar over the canopy, taking in unparalleled views of the jungle and its rare species of flora and fauna. After lunch, delve deeper into the local ecology on a hike with a naturalist. Conclude your day with an optional lecture from one of the lodge’s experts.
Awaken at dawn to search for birds on the lodge terrace with the help of a telescope and a naturalist. Then enjoy breakfast before heading to the nearby Skybike and observation tower. Pedal an aerial bicycle through the treetops and take in the lush setting of Mashpi from a different angle. Then choose from a variety of trails that lead through the pristine forest and past sparkling waterfalls. Return to the lodge for lunch, followed by a guided walk to the Life Centre, the lodge’s research station and home to myriad butterfly species. Look for howler monkeys and a variety of birds, including rare species such as the rufous-fronted wood quail and the rufous-crowned antpitta. As a National Geographic guest, you’ll have the opportunity to join a resident biologist for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Life Centre and a nature walk that highlights ongoing research projects.
After an early morning birding walk, return to the lodge for breakfast. Set off on a hike to the Copal waterfall, traversing a spectacular landscape of orchids and moss-cloaked trees along the way. Return to the hotel, then return to Quito for your flight home.