Birds & Wildlife of Ecuador 2023

StartsMar 25th 2023
EndsApr 4th 2023
LeaderSteve Gettle & Nicole Sudduth
Participants8 (FULL- returning 2024! Email us to be on the pre-announcement list)

Experience the wonders of the Andean cloud forest as we photograph birds and other wildlife of the Tandayapa Valley, Mindo Valley and Sumaco foothills. Experience completely different bird species as we visit locations that range from 4,500 to 9,000 feet in elevation. Photograph some of the most stunning subjects Ecuador has to offer!

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We designed this tour to take you into the heart of some of the richest locations Ecuador has to offer. We will be staying at top rated lodges that offer not only exceptional comfort and good food but also extraordinary photographic opportunities.

In addition to the rich flora and fauna at the lodges, we have a series of field trips planned throughout the tour. These include excursions give us access to unique species otherwise not seen.

You will fly in and out of Quito airport. When booking flights, please make sure your return flight home is after 9pm as we will drive directly to the airport for flights home.


Day 1

Saturday, March 25 – Arrival

Arrive in Quito, Transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Sunday, March 26 – From the Andes to Tandayapa Valley

We will rise early this morning to visit a very special reserve in the Andes that is known for birds such as the Sword-billed hummingbird, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Galoneado Inca, Mountain Velvetbreast, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Barred fruiteater, unique antpittas such as the Chestnut-naped Antpitta, and many many more. You may even get to feed a Swordbilled hummingbird from your hand! This is a very special place and an incredible start to our adventure!

Following lunch we will continue northward to the Tandayapa Valley where we will reach our lodge, settle in and spend the rest of the day shooting here. Get ready for toucan barbets, hummingbirds galore and mot mots that are regular visitors.

Days 3 thru 4

Monday and Tuesday, March 27 and 28 – Tandayapa Valley

We will stay at one of the most famous birding locations in Ecuador and use this as our base as we not only photograph birds around the grounds but also go on excursions as we explore the western slope of the Andes. During these field trips, we will visit hots-pots designed for photographers as we track different Choco endemics present at different elevations.

High-speed flash to capture hummingbirds in flight will be just one of the highlights that you will enjoy during these days!

Day 5 thru 7

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, March 29, 30, 31 – Mindo Valley

As we transfer to our next lodge, you will experience a bird photographers paradise! This new lodge has blinds setup for insect eating birds, incredible hummingbird gardens for perched and in-flight bird photography and two incredible reflecting ponds for birds to drink at. Toucans, tanagers, trogans, antpittas, woodcreepers, and a dizzying array of hummingbirds are all here. This location has also proven itself extremely productive.

This is another spot where we will set up our high-speed flash system for you to photograph gorgeous hummingbirds in flight.

Day 8

Saturday, April 1 – Guango and Sumaco Volcano Area

We will depart early as we head to Guango for a morning shoot. We visit this area mainly for the incredible Swordbill and Chestnut-breasted Coronet Hummingbirds, Inca jays as well as many other species of bird including the Torrent Duck!!

Following lunch, we will continue southward to the Sumaco Volcano area, arriving at our last lodge. This is a wild area that will give us a glimpse into the wildlife of the Amazon. Our lodge is set on a ridge on the eastern side of the Andean foothills. Get ready for gorgeous birds like the Wire-crested thorntail, Golden-tailed sapphire, Napo Saphirewing, and many more. While here, if conditions are good, we will set up for bat photography as well.

Days 9 and 10

Sunday and Monday, April 2 and 3 – Sumaco Volcano Area

The next two days will be filled with more new birds and excellent photographic opportunities! Panoramic views of the Rio Punco Valley, the Andes mountains and beyond can be enjoyed as we discover and photograph incredible diversity of birds, frogs, butterflies and more.

The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, antpittas and monkeys and Tyra are often seen here too.

Day 11

Tuesday, April 4 – Morning photography and transfer to airport for flights home

We will spend this morning enjoying final photo shoot tat the lodge. After lunch, we will drive directly to the airport for our flights home this evening.


Payment schedule

Deposit of $1,000 due with registration
Payment #2 of $2,350 due October 1, 2022
Final Payment of $2,000 due January 5, 2023

* Pricing based on double occupancy
*** Single Supplement (if available) add $650

* Non-Photographer Spouse/Partner discount of $700

– All lodging while in Ecuador
– All meals
– All ground transportation
– Field trips to photo locations
– High-speed flash shoots

Not included

– Air travel to and from Quito
– Gratuities
– Travel insurance
– Any alcoholic beverages

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From the valley of Tandayapa and foothills of Sumaco to the mountain tops of the Andes, this trip will take you on a marvelous tour of wildlife and habitat diversity!

Throughout this photo adventure, we will explore a range of elevations that bring you in contact with wildlife species that fill exclusive niches within their unique habitats. Ecuador has 130 of the world’s 330 species of hummingbirds. Just imagine dozens of hummingbird species, different at each elevation, displaying unique colors, bill adaptations, and behaviors that enable them to thrive. Swordbills, Violet-tailed Sylphs, sunangels, Booted Racket-tails, thorntails and more!

Steve Gettle has been using high-speed flash to capture these winged jewels in flight for over 25 years. For this trip we will bring our own 6 light high-speed flash system to use at two distinct locations. We will connect your camera to the system so YOU can capture the brilliance of these birds in flight!

In addition to hummingbirds, you will find yourself in the midst of hundreds of other exciting bird species! All within reach of your camera, we will photograph unique birds like the fruit eaters, tanagers, toucans, barbets, woodcreepers, flowerpiercers, treehunters, redstarts, becards, and euphonias, just to name a few.

We will visit a location known for the Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, photograph at reflecting pools where a dazzling array of colorful tanagers and other species perch in beautiful settings, and enjoy morning photography blinds where antpittas, trogans, becards, woodcreepers and more come in for breakfast. One of our lodges even has resident Andean Cock-of-the-Rock which we may be lucky to photograph!

Beyond the birds, you will also want to bring along a macro lens to photograph the many butterflies, moths, reptiles and amphibians. Additionally, the jungle really comes alive after the sun goes down. So we will be out to experience the night life of the jungle, including owls, bats, insects and other nocturnal creatures. Monkeys and Tyra are sometimes seen at one of our lodges as well.

This trip is not to be missed! We have selected lodges and lined up field trips designed to put you in the heart of the cloud forest and on the top of the mountains. We visit private reserves with a profusion of life so you can immerse yourself in the wonders of nature while capturing incredible images!

We are naturalists as well as photographers and keep our eyes and ears open for wild encounters everywhere we go to bring you the most memorable experiences and incredible photographs possible!