Bird-watching in Southern Ecuador

From highland moors to cloud forest areas, subtropical valleys, dry forest and tropical areas, this privileged itinerary will take you to visit some of the most important bird-watching sites in southern Ecuador. You’ll explore the full spectrum of ecosystems available in the area giving you a fabulous opportunity to observe a wide diversity of bird species, some endemic.


This bird-watching tour of southern Ecuador is ideal if you’re looking for adventure and for getting a real feel of the bird-watching opportunities on offer. Covering both highland and lowland terrain from 20m to 4100m, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. There are some long days and rough roads, but the journey is well worth it to get the chance to see such a variety of bird species.

This tour includes

· A bilingual (English/Spanish) guide
· Private transportation
· All meals mentioned in the itinerary
· Accommodation at local hotels and reserve lodges (we always use best accommodations available, but standards may vary depending on location)
· Easy to moderate activities lasting from 6 to 8 hours a day
· All entrance fees

This tour does not include

· Travel insurance
· Tips and gratuities
· Personal Expenses
· Any other service not mentioned herein

Packing tips

· Good walking shoes
· Fast-drying comfortable clothing
· Rain jacket
· Warm sweatshirt for cool nights
· Sun cream
· Binoculars

Sample itinerary

Day 1 - Cuenca - Llaviuco cloud forest & Cajas National Park
Llaviuco is located in the lower part of Cajas National Park. It features a particularly interesting mixture of habitats for bird-watching: well-preserved mountain forests, enchanting lakes and scenic pastures. The mountain you can, Andean guan, masked trogon, turquoise jay, colorful tanagers and twelve species of hummingbirds and water birds are among the highlights. This is followed by a visit to Cajas National Park, which is host to 150 upper Andean species. The most notable is the violet-throated metaltail (hummingbird) which is practically endemic to this park. Other birds found here are the caranculated caracara, tawny antpitta, stout-billed concludes and the Ecuadorian hillstar hummingbird. Free afternoon time to explore the highlights of Cuenca. Meals included: -/L/-
Day 2 - Cuenca - Yunguilla – Pto Jeli – Zaruma
Set off in the early morning as your guide drives southwest covering altitudes between 20 and 3500 meters high. You will stop along the way at locations ideal for diverse bird-watching opportunities such as the Yunguilla subtropical valley, the coastal plains and the mangrove ecosystem at Puerto Jeli. Arrive in Zaruma in time to wander through this small town with wonderful colonial style architecture and important mining history. Meals included: B/L/-
Day 3 - Buenaventura – Vilcabamba
This reserve is located near Piñas and Zaruma in El Oro province. The area is known for being one of the richest and most easily accessible ornithological sites in the Ecuadorian Andes. It protects a narrow zone of cloud forest habitat on the otherwise seasonally dry west slope of the Andes in Southern Ecuador. The reserve is home to the el Oro parakeet and the el Oro tapaculo as well as species including the club-winged manakin (small passerine bird which is a resident breeding species in the cloud forest on the western slopes of the Andes mountains of Colombia and northwestern Ecuador). The manakins are a family of some sixty small bird species of subtropical and tropical Central and South America. After a late afternoon arrival in Vilcabamba enjoy a relaxing evening in the Sacred Valley known for the longevity of its residents. Meals included: B/L/-
Day 4 - Vilcabamba & Tapichalaca Reserve or Vilcabamba & Cajanuma - Zamora
On day four you have two options. Option a: Start out the day with a visit to Tapichalaca Reserve, established to protect the newly discovered jocotoco antpitta (galleria ridgelyi) species, only known to live in this locality. The reserve, which encompasses an unusually wet area of temperate zone forest on the east slope of the Andes, is located along the trail to Quebrada Honda below Cerro Tapichalaca. In addition to the antpitta, Tapichalaca is home to other endangered species such as the bearded guan, golden-plumed parakeet, rufous-capped hornbill, and masked saltator. The reserve is also home to the spectacled bear and woolly mountain tapir. Option b: Stay near Vilcabamba to observe subtropical species and spend the afternoon in the high part of the Podocarpus National Park known as Cajanuma. In either case, you will head east at the end of the day for a late arrival to Zamora, a gateway town to the Amazon rainforest. Meals included: B/L/-
Day 5 - Bombuscaro (Podocarpus National Park) – Return to Cuenca
Podocarpus is considered one of the most diverse and most visited ornithological locations in the world. Within the park more than 560 species have been identified. On the final day of this bird-watching tour you will visit the lower part of the park known as Bombuscaro, which is already in the eastern Andean foothills and connected with the Amazon rainforest environment. Some of the species here include maroon-tailed and white-breasted parakeets, Amazonian umbrella birds, highland motmot and a spectacular number of colorful tanagers. In the early afternoon you will return by car to Cuenca. Or optionally at your request, you can be dropped off in Loja. Meals included: B/L/-


# passengers Price (per person)
2 $1085
3 $910
4-5 $826
6-7 $706
8-9 $654


Made-to-Measure Travel

This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of the available options for travel in Ecuador. But keep in mind:

  • We can tailor this trip to suit your needs, tastes, time frame and budget
  • Every aspect of the itinerary can be modified, from the accommodation to the activities