Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour. It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.
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. In the recent past, there was a $40.80 departure tax in Ecuador. It is currently included in the price of your airline ticket, but this could change back, so be prepared with the cash.
COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1106.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Ecuador at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ec.html.
HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention currently recommend taking a malaria prophylaxis for destinations below 4,900 feet (Wildsumaco at 4900 feet is the lowest elevation at which we’ll be sleeping).
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.
The CDC is currently recommending yellow fever vaccination for travelers to Ecuador who plan to be outside of urban areas although certification of yellow fever vaccination is not required by Ecuador unless you are entering from a country where yellow fever is present
Biting insects are a minor problem, and most areas are delightfully insect-free.
Elevation: On the drive over the Andes from Quito, we will do some birding in the high-elevation paramo at around 15,000 feet. 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. Wildsumaco is at 1480 m (4900 ft), Cabanas San Isidro at 2050 m (6800 ft), and Guango Lodge is at 2700 m (9000 ft) elevation.
Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.
Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.
PACE OF THE TOUR: This is intended as a moderate tour with some walking 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. When not birding on foot from our hotel, our vehicle and driver will be nearby in the event that you need to leave anything in the vehicle during the days out. Bathroom facilities and running water are available at some of the reserves visited, but the presence of modern facilities should not be counted on during our birding days.
The conditions of the trails at the lodges and reserves 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. A collapsible walking stick is often useful. Rubber “wellie” boots are available for use at Wildsumaco.
On one or two 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.
CLIMATE: Quito has been called the city of eternal spring, and the climate is crisp and cool with chilly nights and pleasantly warm days. Rain is always possible, but sunburn is more likely. We’ll spend one night at nearly 9000 feet and it will be chilly. For the most part, temperatures will be warm during the day (75 F, 24 C), and pleasantly cool at night (60-65 F, 15-18 C). Periods of rain and/or fog are likely, especially later in the afternoon. The lower elevations will likely be hotter.
ACCOMMODATION: Our lodges catering to foreign tourists and birding groups and are comfortable. 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 throughout are very good, with lots of vegetables, great soups, fruit juices and various salads to accompany the fresh meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarians can be accommodated, but please let us know in advance.
WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals.
TRANSPORTATION: Transportation between birding destinations and throughout the tour will be in a van or small bus depending on the group size. We will travel on a variety of roads ranging from bumpy dirt roads off the beaten track to multi-lane highways around Quito. All driving will be done by a local Ecuadorian driver.
Updated: March 2015