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Ecuador birding: southern highlights

Tumbesian dry forest & montane cloudforest

This specialist birding tour takes you deep into Southern Ecuador, where deciduous Tumbesian dry forest meets wet Choco cloudforest, providing the perfect location to spot literally hundreds of bird species in a short amount of time. This area of Ecuador has some of the highest concentrations of endemic and restricted-range species in the world, and is always popular among bird enthusiasts.

  • Visit a wide variety of differing ecosystems, including dry Tumbesian forest, wet Choco cloud forest, Foothill Choco, Foothill Amazon & High Paramo grasslands.
  • Join a specialist birding guide who will accompany you to the very best birding sites, and share his expert knowledge and birding tips.
  • Expect to find a wide diversity of bird species in a single week, many of them endemic to the south of Ecuador. It is not uncommon to spot 300-400+ bird species during this tour, including 40 different hummingbirds.
  • Enjoy comfortable lodging and easy organization throughout, so you can focus entirely on quality birding.

Ecuador birding: southern highlights


  • Number of passengers Prices Per Person
  • 1 $4650
  • 2-3 $3850
  • 4 or more $3195


  • Day 1: Pickup in Cuenca & Visit El Cajas National Park: El Cajas preserves some of the prettiest Paramo ecosystem in the country, with majestic highland lagoons and shrubs, grass tussocks, and patches of gnarly Polylepis Trees. We will visit Laguna Toreadora & Bosque Polylepis looking in particular for Violet-throated Mettaltail, Tit-like Dacnis and Giant Conebill. After a packed lunch we will sit at a hummingbird feeder in Yunguillo Reserve, before moving on to Piñas.
  • Day 2: Buenaventura & Piñas: Buenaventura Reserve is considered lowland and foothill forest containing both Chocoan and Tumbesian species, including the Long-wattled Umbrellabird. We will bird the grounds during the morning looking for the mixed flocks and everything else we can find. In the afternoon we will look for the critically endangered and endemic El Oro Parakeet.
  • Day 3: Buenaventura: This morning is flexible, we can try the umbrellabird one more time, bird one of the other trails for a few hours, look for flocks along the road, or just focus on the coatis and hummingbirds that come up to the lodge for food. Afterwards we head to Jorupe reserve, for lunch and afternoon birding.
  • Day 4: Zapotillo & Jorupe: Zapotillo is in the far southwest corner of the country and is the perfect area for racking up Tumbesian endemics. We will bird the morning here, before turning our focus to the corn feeders for the charismatic Guayaquil squirrel and slew of birds that they attract. A flexible afternoon can be spent birding the Jorupe trails again, or we can bird the rice field and river Macará.
  • Day 5: Utuana, Catamayo, Cerro Tapichalaca: an early start takes us to the Utuana Reserve offering a very different, more humid habitat, searching for the purple-throated Sunangel, Rainbow Starfrontlet & Black-crested Tit-Tyrant. In the afternoon we head to Cerro Tapichalaca, with time to bird close to the lodge, and enjoy the feeders with new and distinct hummers.
  • Day 6: Cerro Tapichalaca Y Valladolid: It often rains and is cold in the high montane cloud forest protected by Tapichalaca but the birds love it! Today we have our first opportunity with the enigmatic Jocotoco Antpitta. The bird list on these trails are so long we will have hundreds of options. After lunch, we leave the reserve, heading to the drainage area of the River Marañon, offering us a host of new possible endemics as well as good foothill birding.
  • Day 7: Tapichalaca: If necessary we can again search out the Jocotoco Antpitta. Otherwise we will hit a different trail. Midmorning we pack up and move on to Copalinga, birding the old Zamora road along the way in search of the Cliff Flycatcher. In the afternoon we can bird close to the lodge, Copalinga is an excellent Amazon foothill birding site!
  • Day 8: Copalinga: We will spend the morning birding the National Park Podocarpus adjacent to Copalinga, before lunch and time at the feeders, before returning to Cuenca. You might wish to extend your tour with an additional day at Podocarpus as it is an excellent birding area.

Full Itinerary Book Now

Tour Specifications


  • Private transport starting and ending in Quito (hotel or airport)
  • Specialized expert birding guide with spotting scope
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinners (from lunch on day1 to breakfast on final day)
  • Double / Twin room accommodation
  • Entrance fees and access permits to all scheduled visits on itinerary


  • International Airfare
  • Single Supplement ($495)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Extra snacks
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses & souvenirs
  • Extra activities not specified in the itinerary

Tour Dates

  • This tour is available to start on any day throughout the year, depending on the availability of the birding guide.

Recommended to bring

  • Cameras, binoculars, rain proofing (just in case), decent walking shoes, warmer clothes, water bottle, head covering (hat or buff), sunscreen, insect repellent, flashlight.

About this itinerary

  • This Ecuador Birding tour can be CUSTOMISED to your personal needs, according to your specific goals / desires. Just let our sales team know which changes you would like to make, and they will be happy to help!
  • For more specific information about BIRD SPECIES we hope to find on this tour, please read the detailed itinerary pdf.
  • This is a PRIVATE tour giving you maximum flexibility.
  • The exact Itinerary may change based on weather conditions, or unexpected events which could compromise safety.
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