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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Ecuador: The East Slope of the Andes

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 currently not required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Tourist cards are prepared by your arriving airline. There is a $40.80 departure tax in Ecuador, which is typically included in the price of your airline ticket, but have cash on hand in the event that it changes.

Proof of health insurance may be required when entering Ecuador. As of this writing, it hasn’t yet gone into effect, and the exact requirements are unclear. It’s probably best to 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.

Proof of a current Yellow Fever vaccination is required only if one is entering Ecuador directly from a country where the disease is endemic. Tourists entering Ecuador via transfer in Bogota or Panama have not been asked it is best to be prepared in the event that changes.

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 is a moderately strenuous tour with long days and with a lot of slow walking and periods of standing and sitting. Daylight on the equator lasts only 12 hours and birds are most active in the early morning. Early starts are the rule, although these may be counteracted on most days by a post-lunch siesta or several 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. Most have carved earthen steps, steps made from old tires, or wooden steps reinforced with wire. When they’re dry, the trails are not difficult. When the trails are wet, they can be slippery and 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. Rubber “wellie” boots are available for use at Wildsumaco and Guango.

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.

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. 

­Yellow Fever: The CDC recommends Yellow Fever protection for visitors traveling in rural Ecuador 

Malaria:  The CDC currently recommends taking malaria prophylaxis for destinations below 4,900 feet (Wildsumaco at 4900 feet is the lowest elevation at which we’ll be sleeping. Please consult your physician as to the right course of action. 

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

Elevation: On the drive over the Andes from Quito, we will likely do some birding in the high-elevation paramo at close to 15,000 feet. Although most people are not affected by such short exposure to the high elevation, anyone with a history of altitude or breathing 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.

Miscellaneous: One can never completely escape the risk of parasites or fungal infections. We avoid tap water and purified water is readily available. Finally, 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 usually only a minor problem on this tour, and most areas are delightfully insect-free. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. However, care must be taken to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment as DEET dissolves rubber and plastic and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some reasonably effective alternatives, which contain natural products and aren’t corrosive. One example is a product containing permethrin 0.5%, which must be applied directly to clothing in advance of wearing and allowed to dry. This non-staining, odorless chemical is non-toxic to humans and protective on clothing through several launderings.

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. Guango Lodge where we will be spending one night is also at high elevation (nearly 9000 feet) and the nights can 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: 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. 

INTERNET: Our lodging in Puembo the first and last night of the tour is currently the only location which has decent Wifi access.  Cabanas San Isidro currently has Wifi but this is only available in the dining area and is rather unreliable.  Guango Lodge and WildSumaco do not have wifi.

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. Food is prepared by places that cater to foreign tourists, using products washed in clean water.

Bottled Water:  Bottled water is available at all our lodges and will be available on our tour vehicles. 

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. 

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: 16 April 2019