Birds & Wildlife of Ecuador

StartsDec 1st 2021
EndsDec 12th 2021
LeaderSteve Gettle & Nicole Sudduth
Participants8 (Full - Accepting Wait 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!

30 images


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.


Day 1

Wednesday, December 1

Arrive in Quito, Transfer to hotel.

Days 2 thru 3

Thursday, December 2 through Friday, December 3 – Guango and the Papallacta Pass

We visit this area mainly for the incredible Swordbill and Chestnut-breasted Coronet Hummingbirds, as well as many other species of bird including the Torrent Duck.

Days 3 thru 4

Friday, December 3 thru Saturday, December 4 – Sumaco Volcano Area

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

Day 5 thru 7

Sunday, December 5 thru Tuesday, December 7 – 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. We will be in the cloud forest one day and up at an elevation of 12,000 feet another 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 8 thru 10

Wednesday, December 8 thru Friday, December 10 – Mindo Valley

This all new lodge is a bird photographers paradise with blinds setup for insect eating birds and an incredible reflecting pond for birds to drink at. Toucans, tanagers, trograns, antpittas, woodcreepers, and a dizzying array of hummingbirds that are perfect for both perched and flight photography, 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. In addition, on one of our days here we will take a field trip to yet another bird rich area for more diverse bird photography.

Day 11

Saturday, December 11 – Transfer day

We will spend the morning photographing at the lodge, then return to our hotel in Quito where we will have our farewell dinner.

For those with flights departing at or around midnight, you will be transferred to the airport at 9pm.

Day 12

Sunday, December 12 – Travel day

For those with flights home today, you will be transferred to the airport.


Payment schedule

Deposit of $1,000 due with your reservation
Balance of $3,750 due September 1st 2021

  • Included

  • – All lodging while in Ecuador
  • – All meals
  • – All ground transportation
  • – Field trips to Photo Locations
  • – *Pricing based on double occupancy
  • – *Single Supplement (if still available) $650/person
  • – *Non-Photographer Spouse/Partner $700 discount
Not included
  • – Roundtrip airfare from your home to Quito
  • – gratuities
  • -any alcoholic beverages
  • -travel insurance
Newsletter Signup


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 Golden-headed Quetzal, 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.

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!