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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Ecuador: The Amazon Lowlands 1

A Week at Sani Lodge

Tour Information

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. At present, there is a $40.80 departure tax in Ecuador, which is now rolled into the air ticket price by most airlines. 

Proof of health insurance is now required when entering Ecuador. The exact requirements are unclear, but have your insurance card or travel insurance confirmation with you on arrival. If for some reason your coverage doesn’t meet the requirement, we have been told that medical insurance can be purchased at the airport and that there are 2 or 3 companies stationed just outside of the baggage area.  The basic insurance plans offered at the airport run about $35 for 30 days of coverage.  The more comprehensive plans run somewhere around $95 for the same length of time.

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 US, this is not required, but see below under “Health.” 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Ecuador at

PACE OF THE TOUR: This tour is of a moderate pace, though pre-dawn starts are the norm, and the hot, humid weather is unrelenting and can be very draining even with minimal activity. Most days will be broken up into modules: we’ll go birding early in the morning returning before lunch, then a siesta, and another birding excursion before dinner perhaps staying out until dark for some target species. A few of the days we’ll be longer away from the lodge and we’ll eat a boxed lunch on a forest trail or elsewhere.

Birding is mostly done from a paddled canoe or on foot on forest trails. The conditions of the trails at Sani vary. Most of the trails around the lodge are relatively flat. Across the river in Yasuni National Park, the trails are typically hilly and some have carved earthen steps. When they’re dry, the trails are not difficult, though rain is always a possibility and mud in the trails is to be expected. Some trails may also have small stream crossings depending on weather. After rain, when the trails are wet, they can be slippery and difficult, and some of the boardwalks can become slick and a little hazardous. A collapsible walking stick can be useful. February is a drier period here, and we hope for a visit with minimal rain.

The small canoes that we use almost every day are paddled by one of the lodge staff. It can be a bit awkward getting into or out of the canoes, depending on water levels. The seats are made of wood with separate vinyl cushions.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at

Important note: Sani is an isolated jungle lodge. There are no local doctors, and emergency evacuation procedures are certain to be slow and expensive. Please be sure that you are in good physical condition before scheduling this trip. 

Malaria: Malaria is present in the Amazon basin of Eastern Ecuador, so a malaria prophylaxis is important. Please check with your physician to determine which is best for you. 

Yellow Fever:  The CDC currently recommends a yellow fever vaccination for travelers to Ecuador who plan to be outside of urban areas. 

Elevation:  Puembo is at about 8,000 feet in elevation. The tour itinerary takes place in the Amazon lowlands at about 700 feet 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. 

Miscellaneous:  One can never completely escape the risk of parasites or fungal infections. Please consult with your physician.  We avoid tap water, but bottled water is readily available. You may wish to bring a broad?spectrum antibiotic in case of stubborn bacterial infections, and an anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium. 

Biting insects are occasionally a problem, and can be worse at dawn and dusk (when we’re often out birding in the forest). We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. 

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 possible, but sunburn is more likely. At Sani Lodge in the Amazonian lowlands, we can expect occasional rain and warm, muggy days with cooler nights. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: Sani is a clean and comfortable jungle lodge. The cabins are constructed of wood and have screened windows. Each has one king or two double beds with good mattresses, mosquito netting, and a fan. Each has its own bathroom with sink, flush toilet, and shower. Electricity for the lodge and cabins is supplied by a main generator and is typically available in the mornings (4 to 9AM), evenings (5 to 10PM), and around lunchtime (12 to 2PM). Hot water is supplied by solar heaters, though it can cut out occasionally. The cabins are separate but are connected by common walkways to the bar and dining room. We should note that occasionally spiders, crickets, mice or tree frogs find their way into the bathrooms. If something really neat shows up in your cabin, please alert your leader!! There is WIFI available in the common area of the lodge when the generator is running.     

FOOD: Meals at Sani are excellent and run the gamut of international fare, and often include lots of vegetables, great soups, various salads and splendid desserts to accompany the fresh meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarians are easily accommodated, but please let us know your preference in advance. 

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals. 

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. 

TRANSPORTATION: Flights from Quito to Coca are on modern jets.  We’ll use canoes of varying sizes to get from Coca to Sani and around Sani. The long (about three hour) motorized canoe ride from Coca to Sani will have a canopy for sun/rain protection and padded seats with backs.  The shorter canoe rides at Sani are paddled by staff and have padded seats with a back but no cover (we’re often shaded by nature). Otherwise we’ll be on foot.

Updated: 27 April 2018