The Biology Tour Ecuador shows you the great variety of fauna and flora in our country. You get to know different parts of the cloud forest and the fascinating El Angel Nature Reserve high in the Andean Paramo. Your tour ends with a visit to a lodge in the impressive Amazon Rain Forest. If you wish, you can go to the Galapagos Islands after this tour. A cruise would be the perfect way to end this Biology tour.
Highlights: a huge variety of hummingbirds, beautiful orchids, strange plants and abundant wildlife in the jungle
Number of days: 15 or more
Regions: Amazon, Andes
Interests: Birdwatching, Hiking & Trekking, Nature & Wildlife
Total CO2 emission, in lb (per day for cruises): 1154
Click on the icons to see details about each visited place.
Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Upon your arrival in Quito your English-speaking guide, who will be with you during the whole tour, will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel in Quito’s beautiful historic center.
Day 2: Quito City tour, Botanical Garden
Start the day’s activities with a visit to Quito’s colonial city center. It is Latin America’s biggest and best conserved historic center and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. On a walk around the old town, your guide will show you some of the most beautiful buildings and churches, before taking you up the “Panecillo”, a hill south of Quito’s center, which offers an amazing view of the city.
Later you will visit the botanical garden at the park “La Carolina”. Here you get your first impressions about the different ecosystems in Ecuador and will learn a lot about the vegetation in the Sierra, the Cloud Forest and the unique Páramo. There is also an orchid garden with many rare species.
Day 3: Jotocoto Foundation
The Jotocoto Foundation is an NGO that was founded with the goal to protect certain areas of Ecuador regarding endangered bird species and the corresponding biodiversity. Today it also protects various mammals and plants. An ecotourism-project offers opportunities for visitors to see the different birds and animals, at the same time offering employment options for the local people. On your day tour to their private reserve, you will have the chance to observe many different bird species.
Day 4: Cloud Forest, Santa Lucia
Today you travel to the cloud forest of Nanegalito. Once there you first hike through the forest to your lodge, in about one hour. The hike up rewards you with spectacular views. In the afternoon you can relax or choose from different hiking options. After dinner you can go for a short night walk to observe nocturnal animals and birds.
Day 5+6: Excursions in the cloud forest
On the two days that you spend in the cloud forest, you have the choice between different hikes:
-Early-morning hike to the cock-of-the-rock lek
-Long hike to the highest point of the reserve
-Hike to the panela (raw sugar) production site (90 minutes)
-Hike through the forest to three waterfalls (3-4 hours)
-Hike to the orchid garden with huge swing (90 minutes)
Day 7 + 8: Mindo
Today you leave the lodge and travel to a private nature reserve close to Mindo. Although the reserve is not that big, you can see about 215 different types of birds. Often several humming birds come really close to the house’s back porch. The reserve has an elevation of about 5,570 ft and a unique biodiversity. You can observe 28 different species of humming birds. The colorful, shiny little birds are not afraid of the visitors. Tanagers and toucans are also welcome guests, searching for food in the surrounding trees and bushes. You should also do a hike deeper into the forest to see and learn more about tropical plants, like, for example, impressive bromeliads. After this tour a fresh herbal tea from the garden tastes twice as good. Visitors will also learn something about the sustainable use of natural resources and the educational ecological work of the private reserve. If there is some time left you can do a trip to the nearby village of Mindo. There is a very interesting butterfly farm, where you can observe the different stages of these animals’ development.
Day 9: Otavalo, El Ángel
In the morning you will leave Mindo and travel towards the north. On your way you take a break in Otavalo, where you can visit the traditional market. Pass the “Valle de Chota”, which is a valley with the only traditional Black population in the Ecuadorian Highlands. Here the climate is still nice and warm, which changes as you reach the Nature Reserve “El Ángel” at an altitude of about 9,840 ft.
Day 10: El Ángel, Laguna del Voladero
The average temperatures at El Angel are between 44 and 51 degrees Fahrenheit (7 – 11º C). From November to May is the cooler wet season, and there is often fog and mist, at the higher parts also snowfall. Even if the climate is not that friendly, it is definitely worth to get to know this unique landscape. In the paramo forest you will find a lot of trees with fibrous bark, bromeliads, orchids, humming birds and plate-billed mountain toucans. One of the most striking plants in El Ángel is the meditating monks. These endemic plants, also called Frailejón, are dominating the meager landscape. There are also various lagoons which you can visit, for example “Laguna del Voladero”. If you are lucky, you will maybe even see a puma, a spectacled bear or a condor. Check out our blog post in the Northern Ecuador and the Magical Forest.
Day 11 – 13: Eastern Cloud Forest
Today you will travel back towards the south, passing Otavalo, a small village called El Quinche, and the hot thermal springs of Papallacta. From there it will take about one more hour to reach your final destination, the Cloud Forest on the Andes’ eastern slopes, where during the next days you will stay at two different lodges, exploring the landscape and fauna of this area, which are quite different from the highlands. Observe several species of birds and plants that are typical for this area on hikes with a local guide who will show you the best places for bird watching and also tell you a lot about the local plants.
Day 14: Rainforest
In the morning, you travel to the airport for your flight to the rainforest. After an about 45-minute flight over the Andes you will land in Coca. From the airport you will be taken to the port and travel about 2 hours in a motorized canoe. With a small canoe you will finally arrive at your lodge. Observe the toucans, macaws and monkeys on the way!
Day 15-17: Rainforest
After breakfast you get a wonderful impression of life above the canopy: from the 36-meter canopy tower (20 minutes from the lodge) you can observe a huge variety of animals high up in the trees. During the heat at midday, you can relax in a hammock, and in the afternoon you can explore the rainforest on one of the many paths. If you are interested in birdwatching, you should get up early. You can also visit a parrot lek, where up to eleven different species of parrots and macaws can be seen. Another interesting activity is the contact with the nearby Kichwa village, where you can learn more about their traditions and cultural practices.
Day 18: Flight to Quito
One more time you travel up the river back to the Napo and from there to Coca. Fly back to Quito and spend the night in a hotel close to the airport.
Day 19: End of Tour
Travel on to the famous Galapagos Islands or back home. In time for your flight you will be taken to the airport.
Price per person: US$ 4,806
(based on 2 people traveling)
- 18 nights in double rooms in superior hotels, with breakfast
- professional English-speaking guide
- private transportation
- flight Quito – Coca – Quito
- full board and activities with a local guide in the jungle
- international flights
- meals not specified
- entrance fees to museums, churches, etc.
- personal expenses
- optional excursions and activities
- personal travel insurance
Comfortable lodges in some of Ecuador’s most amazing nature are your home for most nights of this tour.
- Quito: Hotel Plaza Sucre
- Western Cloud Forest: Santa Lucia Lodge
- Mindo: Mariposas de Mindo
- Reserve El Angel: Polylepis Lodge
- Eastern Cloud Forest: San Isidro Lodge and Guango Lodge
- Rain Forest: Sani Lodge
- Quito Airport: Posada Mirolindo
You can find many helpful bird guides on the internet, for example the Internet Bird Collection and Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology. See some of our favorite books about Ecuador’s flora and fauna in our book list.
Wondering what to pack? Check out our packing list.
More questions or ready to book? Purchases can be made conveniently via credit card and check wire transfer.
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