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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Ecuador: The South

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 Ecuadorian Embassy or Consulate. Tourist cards are prepared by your arrival airline.

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: This is intended as a moderate tour with slow walking and periods of standing and sitting, though the days may still 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 of hours of free time before dinner. The majority of the birding will be done on foot from dirt roads and along trails.

While birding on roads, we’ll be moving slowly (birding speed) with the tour van following us. On several days we’ll be walk groomed forest trails, the longest of which are along the Rio Bombuscaro at Podocarpus National Park and a loop trail at Reserva Tapichalaca. The Rio Bombuscaro trail is about 3km in each direction, and the loop trail at Tapichalaca totals approximately 4km. Each have rolling hills and some steps but are well maintained for use by birding tourists. If we have a rainy period, the trails will be muddy and may have some slick spots. Please be prepared. A collapsible walking stick is often useful.

On several days, we’ll bird away from the lodge packing a box lunch, and returning in the late afternoon for dinner. On days when not staying at an “eco-lodge” with a kitchen open early for our needs, we may also leave the hotel packing breakfast or with a planned snack stop. 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 traveling in rural Ecuador. 

Malaria:  The CDC recommends Malaria protection for visitors traveling in Ecuador below 4900 feet (Most of our lodging is below this elevation) 

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 Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ecuador

Altitude: While visiting El Cajas, Cerro de Arcos, and parts of Podocarpus National Parks, we will be some birding in elfin forest and paramo between 10,000 and 13,000 feet. We will be staying one night at Cerro de Arcos at 3600m (12,000 ft) elevation. Anyone with a history of heart, lung, or previous altitude problems should discuss it with their physician.

Insects: Biting insects are often present, but mostly only a minor problem in the lower elevations of the tour. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. Reserva Buenaventura and Manglares-Churute, both visited during the latter half of the tour, often have aggressive mosquitos.

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 each of our lodges, smoking is prohibited inside the buildings. 

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.

Miscellaneous: We avoid tap water, purified water is readily available, and we stay in hotels and lodges that routinely host foreign visitors.  However one can never completely escape the risk of parasites or infections. You may wish to bring a broad-spectrum antibiotic in case of stubborn bacterial infections and an anti-diarrhea medication such as Immodium. 

CLIMATE: Due to the wide range of habitats and elevations visited on this tour participants should be prepared for an equally wide range of weather. The higher elevation areas around Cuenca can be crisp and cool with chilly nights and pleasantly warm days. Nights at Casa Simpson and Casa Refugio Cerro de Arcos can also be chilly and the humid weather there can make it feel especially cool. 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 lower elevations will likely be hotter. Though this tour technically takes place during the dry season, rain is always possible anywhere on the tour. Sunburn is also something of which to be always mindful and the strong tropical sun can be harsh on even overcast days.

ACCOMMODATION: Copalinga Lodge, Cabanas Yankuam, Casa Simpson, Urraca Lodge, and Umbrellabird Lodge are comfortable lodges catering to foreign tourists and birding groups. At all of the lodges, each room has a private bathroom and hot water, though you may need to bring your own shampoo at Copalinga and Cabanas Yankuam. Each lodge is also situated within its own forest reserve allowing immediate access to hummingbird feeders and excellent birding.

Though we try to schedule our tour when other large groups will not be present, depending on the situation, single travelers may need to double-up in a room with another participant at the smaller lodges.

Internet:  Wireless internet access is available in the dining areas of Copalinga, Cabanas Yankuam, Casa Simpson, Hosteria Jardin del Valle, Urraca Lodge, and Umbrellabird Lodge and throughout our city hotels in Loja and Guayaquil. Internet and cell phone reception are not currently available at Casa Refugio Cerro de Arcos.

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 nine to 15 passenger vans depending on group size. We have one internal flight on a scheduled airline.

Updated: 02 September 2020