Ecuador: Antisana-Papallacta Pre-trip: Nov 05—10, 2019
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Price: To Be Announced.
($2,250 in 2018)
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Previous Itinerary (2018): PDF (679.4 KB)
To Be Announced
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An optional two-site pre-trip to our ever-popular Northwestern Andean Slopes tour boasts magnificent scenic vistas and a fascinating plethora of High-Andean bird species including Andean Condor, incredible hummingbirds, special tanagers, and much more.
Best known for its famous cloud forest habitats, the magnificent Andes of Ecuador also contain a fascinating complexity of high-elevation ecosystems. Existing above the lush forest-world is a realm of sky-high ridges, massive glacier-capped volcanoes that ascend to over 15,000 feet, sweeping plains of grass, and geothermally heated springs. On this optional pre-trip to our popular Northwestern Andean Slopes tour, we will explore some of the less visited but intriguing ecosystems of the incomparable Andean cordillera, such as the tundra-like páramo (grasslands), shrub and woodland habitats, and stunning high-temperate and elfin woodlands—all located relatively close to the colonial capital of Quito.
It is in these cool, often chilly, mountain locations that we will seek a diversity of avian specialties. Our adventure begins with a visit to spectacular Antisana National Park where we will search the páramo for localized birds like Black-faced Ibis, Andean Lapwing, Andean Gull, Carunculated Caracara, Tawny Antpitta, and Stout-billed Cinclodes. We will scan the skies for the magnificent Andean Condor and a range of raptors including Cinereous Harrier, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, and Aplomado Falcon. In remnant shrubbery we will watch for Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, and White-chinned Thistletail. At Laguna la Mica we will look for Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Teal, Andean Duck, Silvery Grebe, and Slate-colored Coot, among others. Hummingbirds too are of high importance, and the nectar feeders at our hosteria attract a marvelous array of beautiful species including Sparkling Violetear, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, Shining Sunbeam, and Giant Hummingbird, while nearby Chuquiragua shrubs will be checked for the enigmatic Ecuadorian Hillstar.
From Antisana we will head north over the Papallacta Pass to Las Termas de Papallacta, a lodge famous for its wonderful thermal baths. Here, we will divide our time between birding the forest and woodland above Las Termas and taking advantage of a soothing thermal soak, if desired—a nice combination indeed! These beautiful mountains are home to an assortment of high-elevation specialty birds that often are a challenge to observe. Amid mixed-species foraging flocks we hope to find Crimson-mantled Woodpecker; White-browed Spinetail; Smoky Bush-Tyrant; Red-crested Cotinga; Barred Fruiteater; Spectacled Redstart; Golden-crowned Tanager; an array of glorious mountain-tanagers including Masked, Black-chested, Scarlet-bellied, and Buff-breasted; and Black-backed Bush-Tanager among many other possibilities. We should also encounter several other dazzling hummingbirds including Viridian Metaltail, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Great Sapphirewing, and even Glowing Puffleg. If luck is on our side, we might come across two very special mammals of the region: Spectacled Bear and Mountain Tapir.
Our trip will conclude with a visit to the Papallacta Pass, where at 14,000 feet we will search briefly for the very special Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe before returning to Quito.
Fair to good accommodations and good to excellent cuisine; most birding done in open-country habitats; light walking on varied terrain at high altitudes (10,500 feet plus), with visits to two especially high-elevation sites (between 12,500-14,000 ft.), where walking will be optional; midday rest periods most days; cool to cold climate in general.