Tandayapa Pre-Trip Galapagos Cruise: Oct 24—27, 2017

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Price: $1,295
Departs: Quito
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (7 MB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Paul Greenfield

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

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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’ll descend into a world of pristine cloud forest, rushing streams, a plethora of tropical birds, and glorious mountain scenery. The centerpiece of the first day’s activities is a visit to one of the area’s famed “hummingbird gardens” to relish what is perhaps the most extraordinary hummingbird experience on earth. The Tandayapa Valley boasts incredible hummingbird diversity, including as many as 18–20 species of these tiny (and not so tiny) creatures, and what awaits the visitor is a mesmerizing experience unlike any other. Numerous nectar feeders continually swarm with these avian jewels of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and 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 Brown, Lesser, and Sparkling violetears; Western and Andean emeralds; Fawn-breasted and Green-crowned brilliants; Buff-tailed and Velvet-purple coronets; 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.

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.

Most of the surrounding valley and cloud forest is lightly populated and largely preserved. The setting is idyllic and lends itself to further exploration. The second morning will be spent on the lodge grounds and visiting the wonderful Milpe Bird Sanctuary. We will return to our lodge for lunch, with ample time to enjoy its very active hummingbird feeders and some additional birding. Later in the afternoon we will hop over to a nearby hummingbird garden to take in yet another mind-boggling show.

Ecuador’s subtropical zone holds some of the highest avian diversity anywhere, hosting a great number of resident species complemented by visitors normally found at higher and lower elevations. Consequently, these same cloud forests are also home to among the highest diversity of tanagers that grace the Neotropics. Their names are as attractive as the birds themselves, and we hope to encounter Blue-capped, Lemon-rumped, Golden, Beryl-spangled, Black-capped, Blue-necked, Metallic-green, and Rufous-throated tanagers, and Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, among the many possibilities. Beyond hummingbirds and tanagers, a wonderful array of “blue ribbon” species are found here, such as Masked and Chocó trogons, Golden-headed Quetzal, Toucan Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Pale-mandibled Aracari, Choco and Yellow-throated toucans, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Club-winged and Golden-winged manakins, and maybe a guan or two!

Returning to Quito on our final day, we will enjoy a morning of birding along the forested Paseo del Quinde Ecoroute, and, time permitting, stop along a rushing stream at the bottom of the Tandayapa Valley that may yield White-capped Dipper and Torrent Tyrannulet. There is no telling what we might come across in our travels, but we will search for some awesome specialty birds including the extraordinary Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Powerful and Crimson-mantled woodpeckers, Grass-green Tanager, and the beautiful and bold Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.

We may also make a brief stop north of the city to straddle the Equator at a monument demarcating this important landmark.

An easy and relaxed 3-day field trip centered in relative proximity to our pleasant lodge; cool conditions with light rain or fog possible; superior birding opportunities.