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Jocotoco Antpitta by Gina Nichol.ECUADOR!
October 15 - 27, 2025

Jocotoco Foundation Reserves!
Spectacular birding to support the important work of the Jocotoco Foundation!

Contact [email protected] to reserve your space!

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Long-wattled Umbrellabird by Gina Nichol.In 1997, on an expedition to the mountain forests of southern Ecuador, Dr. Robert S. Ridgely and other researchers discovered a bird now known as the Jocotoco Antpitta. The discovery of this amazing bird, previously unknown to science, sparked the formation of the Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco (Jocotoco Foundation) which purchased the land where the Antpitta was found creating the Tapichalaca Reserve, which now covers more than 9,000 acres. One of 16 reserves now managed by the Fundación Jocotoco, Tapichalaca protects not only the critical habitat for the Jocotoco Antpitta but also provides habitat for other localized species including the White-necked Parakeet, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, and Masked Mountain-Tanager.

This tour visits seven important Jocotoco Foundation reserves in southern Ecuador to discover the biodiversity and unique, range-restricted species and support conservation projects carried out by the Foundation. Our itinerary explores in the diverse habitats of the Buenaventura, Tapichalaca, Jorupe, Copalinga Reserve and visits the Utuana, Cerro de Arcos and Yunguilla Reserves. We stay at four of these reserves in the comfortable lodges managed by the Foundation.

There are so many bird highlights of this tour including several endangered, range-restricted and little-known species.
Here are just a few:

  • Long-wattled Umbrellabird
  • Blue-throated Hillstar, Rainbow
    Starfrontlet and upwards of 30 species of hummingbirds
  • Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner
  • Club-winged Manakin
  • Red-hooded Tanager
  • Pale-browed Tinamou
  • Horned Screamer
  • Gray-backed Hawk
  • Owls including Peruvian Screech-Owl, Andean Pygmy-Owl, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl and the mythical Buff-fronted Owl
  • Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant
  • Ochraceous Attila
  • Snowy-throated Kingbird
  • Maranon, Ecuadorian, and Plumbeous-backed Thrush
  • Pacific Tuftedcheek
  • Jocotoco Antpitta
    plus Watkins’s, Chestnut-naped, Equatorial, Plain-backed, and Ochre-breasted Antpitta
  • El Oro Parakeet
  • Golden-plumed and other Parakeets
  • Gray-capped Cuckoo
  • Ecuadorian Trogon
  • Toucans including Choco, Yellow-throated Toucan and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan
  • Woodpeckers including Ecuadorian Piculet, Scarlet-backed, Crimson-mantled, Powerful, and Guayaquil
  • Elegant Crescentchest
  • White-tailed Jay
  • Gray-and-gold Warbler
  • Black-cowled Saltator
  • Chapman’s Antshrike
  • Tanagers galore (30+ species!)

Join us for a South American birding adventure
that supports vitally important conservation work!

Ecuadorian Trogon by Gina Nichol. ITINERARY
Day 1: Arrival Guayaquil, Ecuador

Plan to arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador today at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (Airport code: GYE). You will be met at the airport and transferred to a local hotel for the night. The tour begins with a welcome and orientation dinner at the hotel this evening.

Day 2: Buenaventura Reserve, Umbrellabird Lodge (3 nights)
This morning after breakfast, we will depart to Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve and eventually arrive at Buenaventura Reserve and the comfortable Umbrellabird Lodge.

Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve is an 86,589-acre wetland located just 25 miles from Guayaquil. It was created to protect mangroves, freshwater wetlands, and dry forest along the Gulf of Guayaquil. Here freshwater rivers descend from the mountains to meet the sea forming one of the largest estuaries on the Pacific coast of South America. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded here with the star attraction being the Horned Screamer which frequents the local rice paddies. Other birds here include Jet Antbird, “Pacific” Royal Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Euphonia, Mangrove Black-Hawk, Superciliated Wren (Tumbesian specialty, range-restricted), and Ecuadorian Trogon and there should be a variety of marsh birds around the wetlands including Least Bittern, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Wattled Jacana, Masked Water Tyrant, Snail Kite, and Savannah Hawk, as well as Peruvian Meadowlark and with luck, Pacific Pygmy Owl.

From here, we’ll continue on the Buenaventura Reserve, our first Jocotoco Foundation Reserve, created to protect the Choco humid forest that is the home range of the El Oro Parakeet, which was discovered in 1980 by Robert Ridgely. Long-wattled Umbrellabird. We’ll drive into the reserve listening for the Parakeet and eventually arriving at Umbrellabird Lodge. If there is daylight and we can tear ourselves away from the hummingbird feeders, we’ll visit lek of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird this afternoon. After a delicious dinner at the lodge, we’ll review our checklist and check outside the lodge to see if the Black-and-white Owl is there hunting bats around the light posts in the parking lot.

Day 3: Full day at Buenaventura Reserve
Today we will look for the El Oro Parakeet, the species that this reserve was created to protect. We’ll scan the skies for flocks of parakeets and hope to see them winging above the trees and if we are lucky, there will be an active nest box allowing good views. We’ll bird the misty forests along the reserve road looking for tanager flocks, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Ochraceous Attila, Club-winged Manakin, Rufous-throated Tanager, Gray-breasted Flycatcher, Ornate Flycatcher, Choco Toucan, Short-tailed (Tumbes) Swift, Ecuadorian Thrush, Brown-billed Scythebill perhaps a day roosting Crested Owl, and many other species.

If we didn’t have a chance yet, we’ll visit the Long-wattled Umbrellabird lek and also spend time at the hummingbird feeders getting up close and personal with Green-crowned Brilliant, Violet-belled Hummingbird, Green Thorntail, Andean Emerald, Brown Violetear and others. After enjoying a delicious dinner, we'll review our list from the day and hear the plan for tomorrow.

Blue-throated Hillstar by Gina Nichol. Day 4: Full day at Cerro de Arcos Reserve for Blue-throated Hillstar
Today we embark on a full day expedition to look for the very range restricted Blue-throated Hillstar hummingbird only discovered in 2017 and only known to exist on Cerro de Arcos, near Loja in the Andes of southwestern Ecuador. On the windswept slopes we’ll scan the vegetation for the Hillstar as it comes in to feed on orange, pine cone shaped Chuquiraga flowers. Another Jocotoco Reserve, Cerro de Arcos sits at 12,000 feet so we will move slowly as we search for this rare bird. Other birds to look for here are high elevation species like Variable Hawk, Mountain Caracara, Many-striped Canastero, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Shining Sunbeam, Black-tailed Trainbearer, and Viridian Metaltail. In the afternoon, we’ll make our way back to the lodge and bird the trails as time and daylight allow. Night Umbrellabird Lodge.

Day 5: Buenaventura to Jorupe Reserve. Urraca Lodge (2 nights)
White-tailed Jay by Gina Nichol. Today we continue to head south toward the city of Macará near the Peruvian border to explore Jorupe Reserve which protects an important remnant of Tumbesian Dry Forest. This region has a variety of endemic and restricted-range species, many of which are highly threatened. The Reserve offers protection for these species and here the forests are dominated by huge Ceiba trees. Our base here is the lovely Urraca Lodge positioned on a ridge above the Jorupe Valley with the mountains of Peru in the distance. On arrival, keep an eye up in the trees for Ecuadorian Trogon in the parking lot and White-tailed Jays visiting the lodge feeders. Once settled in, we will orient ourselves to the lodge trails which offer Ecuadorian Thrush, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Gray-and-gold Warbler, Fasciated Wren, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Gray-breasted Flycatcher and many more. After dinner, it’s worth a listen or even a short walk to look for the mythical Buff-fronted Owl.

Day 6: Full day at Jorupe Reserve
We’ll be sure to check the lodge feeders during breakfast as White-tailed Jay, Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Blue Ground Dove, and Pale-browed Tinamous come in to feed. Today will be spent exploring Jorupe Reserve at various elevations and the birding hotspots around Macara. On the menu are Watkins’s Antpitta, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, Ochre-bellied Dove, White-browed Gnatcatcher, Gray-cheeked Parakeet, Blackish-headed Spinetail, Grey-breasted Flycatcher, Rufous-necked Foliage-Gleaner, Slaty Becard, Elegant Crescentchest, Black-capped Sparrow, and White-edged Oriole. Keep an eye to the sky as Jorupe is a great place to see King Vulture. Night Urraca Lodge.

Buff-fronted Owl  Rufous-headed Chachalaca by Gina Nichol

Day 7: Utuana Reserve and Catamayo
Today we visit Utuana Reserve which protects montane forest that is home to numerous species of birds whose ranges are extremely restricted. The bird list of Utuana comprises species endemic to the Tumbesian region, including Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Gray-headed Antbird, Piura Hemispingus, and Black-cowled Saltator. There are also some high Andean species here such as Undulated Antpitta and two beautiful hummingbirds, the Rainbow Starfrontlet and the Purple-throated Sunangel. Other restricted-range birds present in Utuana include Chapman's Antshrike, Jelski's Chat-tyrant, and Bay-crowned Brushfinch. Heading toward Loja, we’ll stop in the Catamayo Valley, an agricultural region that can offer Drab Seedeater, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Chestnut-throated Seedeater, Croaking Ground-Dove, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Peruvian Meadowlark, and Plumbeous Rail. Night Loja.

Barred Fruiteater by Gina Nichol.Day 8: Cajanuma to Tapichalaca Reserve (2 nights Casa Simpson)
This morning we will bird Cajanuma Refuge in Podocarpus National Park just south of Loja. Another biodiverse area, here we can walk the roads and trails to look for Scaly-naped Parrot, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Pale-naped and Rufous-naped Brush-Finch, Tyrian Metaltail, Bearded Guan, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Turquoise Jay, Collared Inca, Citrine Warbler, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Glowing Puffleg, Azara's Spinetail, Black Flowerpiercer, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, and if we are lucky Barred Fruiteater, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, and Blue-capped Tanager.

From here we will continue on to Tapichalaca Reserve for a two-night stay at the famed Casa Simpson, a lovely lodge right inside the Reserve. This area is home to the large and spectacular Jocotoco Antpitta, and we will have maximum opportunity to not only hear but to see this “mega” bird. Our time here will also allow us to explore areas influenced by the Maranon drainage and Amazon Basin. Birdlife is prolific and among the numerous possibilities are Chestnut-bellied Antpitta, Inca Jay, Orange-banded Flycatcher, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Lined Antshrike, Maranon Thrush, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Red-pileated Finch, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Plushcap, White-capped, Silver-backed, Golden, Flame-faced, Golden-eared and Paradise Tanagers, and hummingbirds such as Amethyst and Flame-throated Sunangels, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Chestnut-breasted Coronet and the dainty Wire-crested Thorntail.


Jocotoco Antpitta by Gina Nichol

Day 9 - Tapichalaca Reserve
This morning after breakfast we will hike the trail into the reserve to the feeding Chestnut-breasted Coronet by Gina Nichol.station for the Jocotoco Antpitta (3 miles round trip). Once settled into position, our guide will call “Panchito” the male that had recently been coming in for food and hopefully the female Jocotoco Antpitta will follow. If the birds cooperate, the views will be stunning and we’ll enjoy our time with these birds before heading on to do more birding along the reserve trails. Possibilities include Lacrimose and Hooded Mountain Tanager, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Yellow-breasted Brushfinch, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Turquoise Jay, Masked Flowerpiercer, Equatorial Antpitta, Golden-crowned Tanager, and Rufous-banded Owl. The hummingbird feeders near the lodge offer their own show with Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Collared Inca, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Flame-throated Sunangel, and others. Night Casa Simpson.


Golden Tanager by Gina Nichol.Day 10 - Tapichalaca to Copalinga. Night Copalinga Lodge
Today we’ll head toward Copalinga Lodge in the Andean foothills near Podocarpus National Park. The lodge is located in the beautiful Bombuscaro valley, and its Reserve is comprised mostly of primary forest with more than 220 bird species documented in the lower part of the reserve. The lodge feeders draw a variety of birds including Orange-eared Tanager, Russet-backed Oropendola, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Golden-eared Tanager, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Bronze-green Euphonia and others. Around the lodge, we can look for Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Masked Tanager, Sickle-winged Guan, Gray Tinamou, Golden Tanager, and more. In the afternoon, we can walk up to the Gray Tinamou feeding site (but sometimes you run into them walking the trails!).


Day 11 – Copalinga to Cuenca. Night Cuenca
Today we continue to the north. We´ll make a stop at the mountains above Saraguro, making a special effort to see the incredible Crescent-faced Antpitta. The antpitta lurks in dense patches of bamboo at the timberline, and with patience and luck we may be able to call one in. Other scarce species, like Black-headed Hemispingus, Flammulated Treehunter, Bearded Guan, Masked Mountain-Tanager, Glowing Puffleg, and Agile Tit-Tyrant also occur here. The very rare Chestnut-bellied Cotinga is also possible, though much luck is required. At the end of the day, we will spend the night in the city of Cuenca.


Paradise Tanager by Gina Nichol.Day 12 - Yunguilla Reserve/city tour Cuenca. Night Cuenca
This morning we will spend time at Yunguilla Reserve established to protecting the last remaining habitat of the critically endangered Pale-headed Brushfinch, a bird which was considered to be extinct for more than two decades. In 1998, a population of this bird was located by Niels Krabbe. Since then, and thanks to an active program to protect the bird population, the nesting pairs have more than doubled. Set at less than 4000 feet, the habitat for this bird is dry intermontane valleys with areas of dense, low scrub.

There will be a multitude of other species to look for including Purple-collared Woodstar, Stripe-headed Brush-Finch and Black-lored Yellowthroat, plus Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, and Rufous-browed Peppershrike to name a few. Later in the day we will have a city tour of Cuenca, an Andean city known for its beautiful and historical museums, Tomebamba River waterfront and handicrafts including Panama hats. Our hotel, the Inca Real is itself a historical colonial mansion right in the historical district of Cuenca.


Day 13 - El Cajas National Park. Night Grand Hotel Guayaquil
Our stay in Cuenca gives us access to the famed El Cajas National Park, where we can search out some of the paramo specialties including the endemic Violet-throated Metaltail, as well as Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Giant Conebill and Tit-like Dacnis. Waterbirds including Andean Teal, Andean Ruddy-Duck, Andean Coot, and Andean Gull can be found around the lakes and lagoons. And we can look for Ecuadorian Rail, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Tyrian Metaltail, Plain-colored Seedeater, Mountain Wren, Grass Wren, Sapphire-vented Puffleg and Turquoise Jay. Later on, we will make our way back to Guayaquil for our farewell dinner in the Grand Hotel.


Day 14 – Departures from Guayaquil


Leaders:  Juan Carlos Crespo & local guides.

Photos, top to bottom: Jocotoco Antpitta, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Ecuadorian Trogon, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Blue-throated Hillstar, White-tailed Jay, Pale-browed Tinamou, Buff-fronted Owl, Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Barred Fruiteater, Jocotoco Antpitta, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Golden Tanager, Lanceolated Monklet, Paradise Tanager, White-throated Screech-owl. All photos by Gina Nichol except the Buff-fronted Owl which was taken by Steve Bird.

White-throated Screech Owl by Gina Nichol.SOUTHERN ECUADOR
October 15 - 27, 2025

Contact [email protected] to reserve your space!
Registration Form>    

TOUR PRICE:  $5295 per person, based on double occupancy and a minimum of 8 persons from Guayaquil, Ecuador (Airport code: GYE).

Single supplement: $495.00 per person based on availability

Group size: Maximum of 8

Deposit: $1000.00 per person per tour. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise [email protected] when you have made payment. 

Included in cost:  All accommodations, meals starting with dinner on Day 1 and breakfast on Day 14, guide services as stated in the itinerary, private ground transportation during the tour, and park entrance fees.

Not included: International flights, tipping for drivers and guides, travel insurance, entrance tax to Chile, excess baggage charges, private excursions, à la carte dishes, snacks, drinks, laundry, telephone calls and anything else of a purely personal nature. Also, any and all costs arising from pandemic or Covid-19 related issues are not included in the tour cost and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. These include, among others, the costs of Covid treatment, hospitalization, medical fees, transport, meals and accommodation in case of illness or quarantine, and the costs of any Covid tests needed before, during and after the tour.

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour:

1) Contact Gina Nichol at [email protected] to confirm availability and hold your place.

2) Review the Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)>

3) Complete the Registration & Release Form (pdf)> and mail it with your deposit of US$1000.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC within two weeks to secure your place. 

>Download & print the Registration Form (pdf download).
Instructions are on the form.

Reservations are held with a paid deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.


Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights.
Please do not book flights until you receive this information from us and are notified that the trip has sufficient numbers to run. Final payment is dueJune 15, 2025. Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees). 


**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds:
Please review our Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)> prior to registering for this tour. All cancellations must be made in writing. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.


Sunrise Birding LLC strongly recommends that you consider purchasing a travel protection plan to protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected in case of delay, injury or illness prior to or during a tour. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss and Delay, Emergency Medical Transportation, Pre-existing Conditions, and more. Get started here>


  • Insurance policy requirements vary and the timing of your purchase can affect coverage. Some insurance providers require that for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a policy must be purchased within 7-14 days of booking. Others, like CSA, offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions as long as the policy is purchased prior to making your final payment for the tour.

  • Trip insurance policy premiums may be non-refundable, but they may be able to be amended or transferred. Check with your insurer. It is important to be sure that the tour is sufficiently subscribed to operate before you purchase trip insurance.

  • Pay attention to coverages provided by your policy. Be aware of the requirements of country or destination can change, so check often. Some policies are now offering Covid related coverages so check with your insurer.

  • US medical insurance plans (including Medicare) often do not provide coverage outside the US. The US State Department strongly advises Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Consult with your insurer prior to your trip to ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider directly or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Be sure to get and keep all documentation of any expenses incurred.
Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724