16 February 2019

Ecuador Photo Tour Trip Report 2018

Ecuador Photo Tour

Ah Ecuador! From the cloud forest of the Tandayapa Valley to the foothills of Sumaco Volcano and into the depth of the Amazon, this was a fun trip! Seven intrepid travelers joined us for the main part of this adventure, while five continued on with us for the extension into the Amazon.

Photos in our client gallery tell the tales of this trip – but here are some more details as well:

We started this adventure a few days after Thanksgiving, meeting up in Quito. One of the exciting things about this trip is that you see different species of birds at different elevations and we selected our destinations to maximize that diversity. So, after a good nights rest, we headed up to an altitude of 12,000 feet to photograph some very special hummingbirds that are adapted for life and high speed flight at high elevation. We photographed 19 species at this one place – one of these was the Sparkling Sunbeam which certainly lived up to its name.

From here we spent a few days in the Tandayapa Valley area – taking special side trips to photography blinds to photograph the likes of squirrel cuckoos, trogans, tanagers, toucans, and woodcreepers to name just a few.

At one of our locations, we had eight different species of tanagers with a dizzying array of colors.

And hummingbirds did not disappoint. Between our main lodge and our forays, we photography 24 different species at this altitude alone. Here, high speed flash photography of hummingbirds was top on our list and we caught some amazing in-flight action!

We also enjoyed photographing these fast fliers as they perched and interacted with each other.

Following this excitement we headed onward through the cloudforest area, making a special trip to photograph the flashy Cock-of-the-Rock and five species of the secretive Antpittas and then to a river valley area known for yet more new species of hummingbirds.

During our time in this area, we photographed 10 more species of hummingbirds, including the incredible Swordbilled hummingbird and the beautiful Chestnut-breasted Coronet.

As night fell, the darkness came to life with the call of an owl which called from a perch at our lodge. This owl, sharing the likeness of both a Black-and-white Owl and a Black-banded owl, is possibly a new species that is yet to be described for classification.  It is currently being called the San Isidro Owl.

For the remainder of our main trip, we went down to a lodge at the foot of the Sumaco Volcano.  In addition to monkeys, we photographed 14 more species of hummingbirds, including the Wire-crested Thorntail and the Golden-tailed Sapphire.  What a brilliant bird!

As night fell, we wondered if bats drank from the hummingbird feeders around the lodge and as dinner wrapped up, we went out to see. Lo-and-behold they did, so we turned our high-speed flash setup on and went to work. It was an unexpected treat and a ton of fun!

As the main part of our trip wrapped up, we bid farewell to a few of our clients while the rest of us went onward to the Amazon extension where we headed to the Napo River to catch our motorized canoe for the first leg of our journey.

We then transferred to the paddled canoes to go deep into the lagoon to our lodge that would serve as our base for this part of the journey.

Thanks to Mike Whear for this awesome video that really captures the experience well. Checkout his facebook page to see more of his work.

The lodge we stayed at is the most remote for the area and it did not disappoint!  Each day, we set our selves up in the canoes, tripods and all! With only 3-4 of us in each canoe, we had room to maneuver and shoot as we glided up to birds like the Rufescent Tiger Heron, Wattled Jacana, kingfishers (4 species in all!), Cucoi heron, three species of potoo, and even tent bats roosting on trees.

Each day, we had special and exciting encounters.

We visited a parrot clay lick where thousands of Blue-headed, Mealy Amazon and Dusky-headed parrots fly in along with macaws to eat clay which balances out the acids of the fruits and nuts they eat. Jungle TUMS!!!

We photographed manakins, Crested Owls, night monkeys, and even met up with a tapir that came out of the woods as we walked the trail!

And then of course, back at our lodge was a gem of a friend, her name is Panchita.

She is a peccary that wandered into the lodge property about six months ago and was adopted by the staff.  It turns out, Panchita loves a good belly rub and is happy to take a walk in the jungle with you.

Overall, during our 13 days in Ecuador we photographed nearly 175 different species of birds, as well as bats, monkeys, frogs, spiders, cicadas, butterflies, moths, beetles, pygmy marmots, a tapir, and a lovely peccary. What a special place this was!  We can’t wait to do it again!

Join us on our next trip to Ecuador in November of 2019! The wild awaits!

Ecuador Photo Tour 2019

We will have a great time!

Steve and Nicole

Many Thanks to Keith Matz for capturing this fun Amazon moment. To see more of Keith’s work visit his great website.