Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Ecuador. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they took this tour. Although we do our best to make sure what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.
ENTERING AND LEAVING ECUADOR: Ecuadorian authorities require a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date of your arrival in Ecuador. Visas are not required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Tourist cards are prepared by your arriving airline. There is a $40.80 departure tax on leaving Ecuador.
MAPS AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Ecuador in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Ecuador here.
HEALTH: Ecuador is quite clean, and we’ll be exploring places that have been visited by Americans for some time. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention currently recommend taking a malaria prophylaxis for destinations below 4,900 feet. The CDC recommends one of the following antimalarial drugs for use in Ecuador: mefloquine (Lariam®), doxycycline, or Malarone®. Please remember that many antimalarial drugs must be initiated one or more weeks before the period of exposure, and continued for several weeks after it concludes.
Further, the CDC currently recommends the following vaccines: hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG); typhoid; yellow fever (although this is not required to enter the country); as needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles. See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for immunizations to take effect. You can review the CDC’s latest advisories here.
Certification of yellow fever vaccination is not required unless you are entering Ecuador from a country where yellow fever is present (check with your local public health agency or the Centers for Disease Control for this list); if you are entering Ecuador from the U.S., this is not required. The CDC, however, is currently recommending yellow fever vaccination for travelers to Ecuador who plan to be outside of urban areas.
Biting insects are only a minor problem, and some areas are delightfully insect free.
CLIMATE: Quito has been called the city of eternal spring, and the climate there is crisp and cool with chilly nights and pleasantly warm days. Rain is always possible, but sunburn is more likely. Guango Lodge is at about 9,000 feet elevation, Cabañas San Isidro at about 7,000 feet, and Wildsumaco at about 5,000 feet. Temperatures will be warm during the day (about 75 F) and pleasantly cool at night (about 65 F). Periods of rain or fog are likely, especially late in the afternoon. The lower elevations will likely be hotter.
ELEVATION: On the drive over the Andes from Quito, we will do some birding in the high-elevation paramo at around 15,000 feet, where the air is thin. Although most people are not affected by such short exposure to high elevation, anyone with a history of altitude problems should discuss it with their physician.
PACE OF THE TOUR: This is intended as a moderate tour with some short walks and periods of standing and sitting, though the days may be long. Daylight on the equator lasts only 12 hours and birds are most active in the early morning. Early starts are imperative, although these may be counteracted on most days by a post-lunch siesta or a couple hours of free time before dinner. The majority of the birding will be done on dirt roads and along trails.
The conditions of the trails at the lodges vary. Some are flat, others are hilly. When they’re dry, the trails are not difficult. When the trails are wet, they can be more difficult to negotiate. If we have a rainy period, the trails will be muddy and hill climbing may be difficult for the less agile. Please be prepared. A collapsible walking stick is often useful.
On two or three days, we’ll bird away from the lodge packing a box lunch, and returning in the late afternoon for dinner. There will be at least one optional after-dinner owling excursion
ACCOMMODATION: Guango, San Isidro, and Wildsumaco are comfortable lodges catering to foreign tourists and birding groups. At all of the lodges each room has a private bathroom and hot water. Each lodge is also situated within its own forest reserve allowing immediate access to hummingbird feeders and excellent birding.
FOOD: Meals at our lodges are very good, with lots of vegetables, great soups, fresh fruit juices, and various salads to accompany the fresh meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarians can be accommodated, but please let us know in advance.
SMOKING: We request that you not smoke in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any area where the group is gathered has a more restrictive policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.
GENERAL INFORMATION AND CONDITIONS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS General Information and Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Ecuador will be sent to each registrant on receipt of booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary.
Updated: June 2013