Tandayapa Pre-Trip Galapagos Cruise: Jun 20—23, 2017

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Price: $1,295
Departs: Quito
Tour Limit: 18
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (2.3 MB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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Paul Greenfield

Paul Greenfield grew up near New York City and became interested in birds as a child. He rec...


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Tony Nunnery

Tony Nunnery grew up in Mississippi, then moved to Texas, and graduated from Stephen F. Aust...


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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan

Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan— Photo: Paul Greenfield

A highly recommended pre-cruise activity provides opportunity for sampling the species-rich cloud forests of the spectacular northwestern Andean slopes, where highlights include the world’s greatest hummingbird show, and colorful toucans, tanagers, and barbets.

Participation on this optional pre-trip is strongly encouraged for all Galapagos cruise participants as protection against travel delays in the event you (or your baggage) do not arrive in Quito as scheduled.

Our destination is the remarkable northwestern slope of the Andes, only an hour-and-a-half from Quito. Leaving the lofty capital city behind, we shall descend into a whole other world of pristine cloud forest, rushing streams, a plethora of tropical birds, and glorious mountain scenery. The centerpiece of our first day’s activities is a visit to Pacha Quindi, the private home of Tony and Barbara Nunnery, who happen to host the world’s most extraordinary hummingbird show. Their home is set on a hillside overlooking the picturesque Tandayapa Valley and boasts an expansive outdoor deck, beautiful garden, and as many as 20 hummingbird feeders. What awaits the visitor is a hummingbird show unlike any other. The feeders are continually swarming with hummingbirds of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Ecuador’s subtropical zone holds some of the highest diversity of hummers anywhere, hosting numbers of resident types, but also attracting numerous other species normally found at higher and lower elevations.

It is not uncommon to see as many as 15 species in a two-hour period, with some of the world’s most beautiful and striking hummers among them. Species we can expect include Green, Brown, and Sparkling violet-ears side by side, Western and Andean emeralds, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, Brown Inca, Violet-tailed Sylph, the incredible Booted Racket-tail, Gorgeted Sunangel, Purple-throated Woodstar, and even Collared Inca, one of the world’s most captivating birds, both in beauty and style.

Most of the surrounding valley and cloud forest is lightly populated and largely preserved. The setting is idyllic and lends itself to further exploration. When we finally pull ourselves away from this dizzying entertainment, we will continue our short journey along the Paseo del Quinde Ecoroute to our lodge—Septimo Paraiso—set on the slopes of the Mindo Valley. The following day will be spent both around the lodge grounds and visiting the wonderful Milpe Bird Sanctuary (with another whole set of birding surprises), just a short distance away. We will return to our lodge for lunch and ample time to enjoy its very active hummingbird feeders and some additional birding. The list of avian possibilities is incredibly long and varied, but the “blue ribbon” species that we will watch for in this region include Masked and Choco trogons; Golden-headed Quetzal; Toucan Barbet; Choco Toucan and the extraordinary Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan; Powerful, Guayaquil, and Crimson-mantled woodpeckers; Club-winged and Golden-winged manakins; and Turquoise Jay. These same cloud forests are also home to one of the highest diversities of tanagers that grace the Neotropics. Their names are as attractive as the birds themselves. We hope to find Glistening-green Tanager, Golden Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, and others. At higher elevations Grass-green Tanager is possible, and the beautiful and bold Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager is probable. We expect to see many of these gems over and over at close range as they swarm the feeding stations at several locations, a sight just as colorful and amazing as the hummingbird show.

Returning to Quito on our final day, a stop along a rushing stream in the bottom of the valley may yield White-capped Dipper and Torrent Tyrannulet. On our return to the hotel we’ll make a brief stop north of the city to view the monument demarcating the location of the equator.

An easy and relaxed 3-day trip with excursions in relative proximity to our lodge; most of our time will be spent watching feeders and on easy walks; cool to warm conditions with light rain or fog possible; superior birding opportunities.