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Ecuador - Cock-of-the-rock

Tour Code: ECU05

A 9-day birdwatching tour visiting the forests and valleys of the Andes, including a visit to a Cock-of-the-rock lek and the Angel Paz reserve (antpittas).

9 days from £2495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1895 SRS: £275

One of our most popular 'bargain birdwatching' tours over recent years, this finely-tuned birding holiday offers outstanding value for money and encapsulates the best of northern Ecuador in a week of exciting, varied birdwatching at Mindo, San Miguel de los Bancos and Maquipucuna on the western Andean slope, and the Papallacta/San Isidro transect on the eastern Cordillera. Colourful tanagers and hummingbirds abound among a good selection of range-restricted endemics, stunning Andean scenery and warm Ecuadorian hospitality. It will be hard to leave!

  • Experience an active Cock-of-the-Rock lek
  • Visit Angel Paz's famous Antpitta reserve at Mindo
  • Superlative Neotropical birding. Tanagers & hummingbirds galore!
  • Wonderful cloudforest & mountain scenery
  • High altitude birds at Papallacta include Seedsnipe & Andean Condor
  • Expertly guided by one of our outstanding Ecuadorian ornithologists
  • Extend your holiday with a visit to the Galapagos Islands


All meals are included, except for evening meals in Quito (£30 should be more than enough for these).


A mixture of characterful birding lodges and small hotels.

Cock-of-the-Rock (Mark Caunt)

Cock-of-the-Rock (Mark Caunt)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Quito

Day 2 Nono-Mindo Road; Maquipucuna

Day 3 Maquipucuna

Day 4 Milpe

Day 5 Milpe; Quito

Day 6 Papallacta Pass; Guango

Day 7 Guango; San Isidro

Day 8/9 Fly London

Everything about the Andes is spectacular! From the Caribbean coasts of Venezuela and Colombia to South America’s southernmost tip in Patagonia, the longest and geologically youngest mountain chain on earth is a domineering physical presence. Crowned by a string of majestic snow-clad peaks along much of the range, this is one of the most seismically active places on the planet. In between the world’s highest active volcanoes, a myriad of distinct micro-climates and ecosystems characterize the peaks and ridges, valleys and wet-forested slopes. The Andes is a place of extremes with climatic, altitudinal and geographical extremes as wide as any. Within these stunning landscapes a mouth-watering bonanza of birding opportunities are on offer to suit all tastes and constitutions. Whilst being surrounded by a large mixed-species feeding flock is arguably the adrenaline-fuelled highlight of birding in the Andes, attractive side-shows are almost too numerous to mention. Many of the privately-owned lodges on the Andean slopes of Ecuador provide spectacular hummingbird viewing, with birds attracted by numerous sugar-water dispensing hummingbird feeders. Strictly an American family, ranging from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, these captivating, iridescent, glittering creatures reach their greatest diversity in the cloud forests of the Andes. Locations abound where it is possible to see over 20 species of ?hummers? without switching hammocks! The names are evocative; Booted Racket-tail, Gorgeted Sunangel, Shining Sunbeam; the plumages stunning, and the photographic opportunities endless. If the hummingbirds are the living jewels in the cloud forest drizzle, even they are surely eclipsed by the remarkable Cock of the Rock. A bright red, Jackdaw-sized bird, males romp strenuously and noisily on steep forested hillsides at displaying areas known as leks. Any cloud forest birding lodge worth its salt will be within striking distance of an active lek, for this is a spectacle not to be missed. Each bird competes to be the loudest and brightest performer to impress the females, which in comparison are rather drab.

Andean Cock-of-the Rock (Byron Palacios)Antisana Volcano (Ann Chase)Cordillera de los Guacamayos (Byron Palacios)Yellow Grosbeak (Byron Palacios)Cotopaxi Volcano (Byron Palacios)Chestnut-breasted Coronet (Byron Palacios)Inca Jay (Mark Caunt)Antisana Volcano (Byron Palacios)Gorgeted Woodstar (Ann Chase)Rainbow-bearded Thornbill (Byron Palacios)Green-crowned Brilliant (Mark Caunt)Tyrian Metaltail (Byron Palacios)Red-crested Cotinga (Byron Palacios)Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Mark Caunt)Green-crowned Woodnymph (Byron Palacios)Rio Blanco (Byron Palacios)Guantug Trumpet flower (Byron Palacios)Butterfly (Mark Caunt)Chesnut-crowned Antpitta (Byron Palacios)Rufous Tail Hummingbird (Ann Chase)White-Necked Jacobins (Ann Chase)Bronzy Inca (Ann Chase)Long-tailed Sylph (Byron Palacios)Buff-winged Starfrontlet (Ann Chase)Booted Racket-Tail (Mark Caunt)Pale-mandibled Aracari (Ann Chase)Great Sapphirewing (Ann Chase)Tyrian Metaltails behind Guango Lodge (Byron Palacios)Masked Flower Piercer (Ann Chase)Violet-tailed Sylph (Byron Palacios)Highland Motmot (Byron Palacios)Atlas Moth (Mark Caunt)Butterfly (Mark Caunt)Antisana Volcano (Mark Caunt)Plain-brown Woodcreeper (Byron Palacios)Blue-Grey Tanager (Ann Chase)Cotopaxi Volcano and Llama (Byron Palacios)White-whiskered Hermit (Mark Caunt)
Mid Glamorgan
Alejandro Solano - The best guide/leader I have travelled with. Really superb. I would certainly book a holiday just because he is the guide.
Our guide, Alejandro Solano, was absolutely first rate, both for his knowledge of birds and for his character as someone able to handle a group of people effectively and with a gentle humour. Accommodation was very good with food ranging from good to excellent. All the hosts were friendly and welcoming.
Guide was excellent - very knowledgeable and a great manner with the group.
Even though this was an exciting tour in prospect, the reality was even better. The tour greatly exceeded our expectations and although Ecuador might seem a long way to go for a weeks break - it was well worth it. Alejandro is a top leader and he was responsible for us seeing a large list of birds. He is a brilliant birdguide and nature enthusiast.
Jorges Luna was superb. His bird finding ability and knowledge could not have been bettered. Also had an excellent rapport with all the group and with Carlos, the driver too, which made it such an enjoyable trip.
Xavier was a superb guide. Full of interesting facts about Ecuador and excellent at finding and identifying all the target bird species. He made the holiday the success it was.
Altogether an excellent trip. I have nothing but praise for our birding guide, Xavier Munoz, and our driver. We made use of every minute of daylight, plus some birding in the dark in pursuit of nightjars and Potoo (successfully, I may add). The amount of birds seen exceeded my expectations.
Our guide Sandra was extremely knowledgeable about the birds and their calls, which is amazing as there are so many different kinds. She is also very personable and had a good sense of humour and looked after us very well. If I ever go to Ecuador again I would certainly want her as my guide. Her English is excellent. Our driver Edwin was also excellent. He knew the areas we visited very well which was helpful. He likes to drive but also has an interest in the birds which was good. They both helped us with our luggage and did what they could for us to make our holiday so successful.
West Midlands
Tour leader was excellent, changed itinerary to suite weather conditions to maximise chances of seeing different species. Accommodation and food excellent. Overall a fantasic experience.
Birding was excellent, Lodges were very comfortable and food excellent.
Sandra was very good, an excellent knowledge of the birds and sounds plus a very god sense of humour. Our driver Eduardo was very good, especially considering some of the roads. Overall a very enjoyable trip.
Mr. P.S.
West Yorkshire
Good birds, good guides, good food and some very good accommodation. Napo Lodge is particularly well organised and reaches high standards.
Mr D.O.
Absolutely brilliant birding trip with a top notch guide, finding a single Oilbird in a tree was amazing!
Mr A P
The tour leader, Rudy Gelis was more than excellent, with a huge knowledge of South American nature.
Both trips were first class, with the guides excellent. Their knowledge of the birds and their calls was brilliant and their general wildlife and cultural expertise was very good. They also tried hard to get everyone to see it’s majority of species. An altogether memorable experience.
Excellent trip, superb accommodation and food, mostly local specialities…and very good guide.
South Yorkshire
Willie Perez is probably the best leader we have ever had. His knowledge of calls was tremendous and his spotting of birds was brilliant.
Overall this was an excellent trip, with a first class guide, very good itinerary and generally good to very good accommodation.
Willy Perez was an excellent leader: very sharp in the field but balanced with a good sense of humour and a love for his country. A great ambassador for Ecuador.
Willy Perez is an excellent choice as trip leader – he has a great love of his country and its welfare and his knowledge of its birds, their calls and behaviour is second to none.
I would like to thank you for an absolutely brilliant trip. The entire trip was well-organised and efficient; the guide, Willie Perez, was fantastic and has a brilliant knowledge of the birds. Accommodation and meals were first-class. Thank you again.
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. The leaders were both excellent, they spoke English fluently, both were good company and made us feel that they enjoyed our company too, and willingly told us about Ecuador life in general. The drivers did their job well and all went out of their way to make the holiday a success. The food was much better than I expected and the staff friendly and helpful.
My wife and I had a really wonderful time on our trip. The tour was well organised by Naturetrek staff at home and well executed by the tour leader, and we received nothing but efficiency and kindness from your staff and local agents in Ecuador. Our extensions were all excellent and went without any hitches. The main purpose of our trip was birding...and I estimate that we have seen about 500 species of birds during the trip. The guides were excellent and demonstrated amazing skills at bird finding, particularly the small birds in the understory of the forests. Thank you all so much.
R. & R.L.
All the hotels were good/very good, and we were fed well. We must make special mention of the warm welcome at the Charles Darwin - nothing seemed too much trouble. We were given breakfast upon our late arrival, plied with tea when we returned wet through from our walk about Quito. The trip leader and local agents sorted everything when we arrived later than expected in Quito and again when we were delayed at Kapawi. The guide was excellent! Thanks to Andy for arranging our stay at Kapawi - it was brilliant!
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Mon 5th February 2018 - Tue 13th February 2018



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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1895 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Thu 23rd August 2018 - Fri 31st August 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Thu 1st November 2018 - Fri 9th November 2018



more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1895 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Ecuador

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Andy Tucker
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Tour Reviews

Alejandro Solano - The best guide/leader I have travelled with. Really superb. I would certainly book a holiday just because he is the guide.
PH, Mid Glamorgan