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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Ecuador: Mindo and the Northwest 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 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. Citizens of other countries should contact their nearest Edcuadorian Embassy or Consulate. Tourist cards are prepared by your arriving airline.

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.

Proof of a current Yellow Fever vaccination is required only if one is entering Ecuador directly from a country where the disease is endemic.

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.

PACE OF THE TOUR: 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 some days by a post-lunch siesta or a couple hours of free time before dinner. The majority of the birding will be done while walking slowly on dirt roads and along trails perhaps for a few hours at a time. Our vehicle and driver will be nearby at all locations if 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 lodge and reserves vary. Some are flat, others are hilly, and many have carved earthen or wood-reinforced steps. 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.  A collapsible walking stick is often useful.

On one morning there will be a pre-dawn hike to a Cock-of-the-Rock lek. The hike may be moderately difficult (about 5-10 minutes downhill, then back up), but we go slowly and the reward is well worth it!

On most days, we’ll be birding 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 you be up to date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further suggest most visitors also acquire protection for Hepatitis A and Typhoid.

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

Malaria: The CDC recommends Malaria protection for visitors travelling in Ecuador below 4900 feet (Séptimo Paraíso is at 4000 feet)

Please consult with your physician 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 website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.

Altitude: On the drive over the Andes from Quito, we will do some birding in the high-elevation paramo at around 12,000 feet. This is on the first full day of the tour, so arriving a day early is recommended if you want some extra time to acclimate to the altitude in Quito. Anyone with a history of altitude problems should discuss it with their physician.

Insects: Biting insects are a minor problem, and most areas are delightfully insect-free.

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.

Note: At Séptimo Paraíso smoking is prohibited inside any of the buildings.

CLIMATE: Quito has been called the city of eternal spring. There and in nearby Puembo where the tour begins, the climate is crisp and cool with chilly nights and pleasantly warm days. Rain is always possible, but sunburn is more likely. Séptimo Paraíso is situated at about 4,000 feet elevation and, 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). The tour takes place during the region’s wet season, and periods of rain and/or fog are likely, especially later in the afternoon. The lower elevations will likely be hotter.

ACCOMMODATION: Séptimo Paraíso is a comfortable lodge situated near Mindo, one of the richest bird areas in western Ecuador. The lodge is beautiful, built in the style of many of the Monteverde (Costa Rica) hotels, with private bathrooms and rich, stained wood throughout. The lodge has an extensive trail system and hummingbird and fruit feeders.

Septimo has internet in its lounge, and when it’s working, it’s of moderate speed. 

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.

TRANSPORTATION: We’ll use 9 to 15 passenger vans /buses depending on group size.

Updated: 26 April 2018