This trip is being conducted for a small group of friends, but there might be a few spaces available to the public. If you are interested in joining this trip please contact us about availability.

EXPEDITION ECUADOR 2013

The Diversity of the Amazon

12 Day Natural History Trip from August 24 – September 4

Dappled light slowly begins to filter through the canopy as the stillness of the pre-dawn is broken by the guttural chorus of red howler monkeys. The sound reverberates through the forest awaking its denizens, stirring the imagination and letting us know that we indeed have arrived in the Amazon.

Such is a typical morning in the spectacular rainforests of Ecuador. These forests in the Amazon Basin are incredibly diverse and may hold more species than anywhere else on earth. EcoQuest Travel is proud to offer an unparalleled wildlife watching journey to the extraordinary country of Ecuador and the amazing Amazon. This trip will concentrate on biodiversity and we will make every effort to maximize our chances of seeing mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and other arthropods. We will fly from Quito to the remote outpost of Coca. Once in Coca we will board our boat and travel down the Napo River into the heart of the Amazon. We will stay at two lodges located on opposite sides of the Napo River – Sacha Lodge, located north of the Napo and Napo Wildlife Center, located south of the river. Both areas are rich in wildlife and, although there is some species overlap, many of the species are found only on one side of the river. Mammals are generally more difficult to observe, but primate diversity is high and Giant River Otters sometimes make an appearance. The birdlife is fantastic and varied and we search for such incredible birds as Zigzag Heron, Sunbittern, macaws, Hoatzin and a host of trogons, toucans, jacamars, antbirds, cotingas and tanager species. EcoQuest Travel invites you to journey with us as we explore the greatest rainforest on earth — the Amazon!


Day 1 – Saturday, August 24: Home Cities to US Gateway and on to Quito, Ecuador

Today our adventure begins as we depart from our home cities on our flights to our US gateway city – likely Miami, Atlanta or Houston. Please plan to arrive at your home airports no later than two hours prior to your scheduled departure time. Once you arrive in our gateway city you will transfer to our departure gate for Quito, Ecuador. Our flight from the gateway city to Quito will be a late afternoon flight that will arrive in Ecuador in the evening. Dave Davenport will meet those of you departing from Raleigh/Durham at the airport and will help you get checked in. For those of you traveling from other home cities you will meet Dave, and the group, at our departure gate for Quito. After we arrive we will clear immigration and customs before transferring to the comfort of Mansion del Angel for a night of much needed rest. Mansion del Angel is a renovated mansion and its plush rooms and superior service will create a welcome retreat each time we are in Quito.

Day 2 – Sunday, August 25: Yanacocha Reserve

Our day will start very early this morning as we explore Yanacocha Reserve, an area of temperate cloud forest on the upper slopes of Pichincha Volcano. With our early start we plan to arrive at Yanacocha at dawn during the height of the bird activity. At 11,100 feet it could be very cold, so we will dress warmly and wear gloves. Although the surrounding terrain is very steep, we will hike on a wide flat trail, allowing for excellent visibility and easy birding. There will be mixed flocks of gorgeous tanagers including Scarlet-bellied and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers. Flowerpiercers and conebills often join these mixed foraging flocks. Yanacocha is home to a variety of high altitude hummingbirds that are attracted to the various feeders. Great Sapphirewings, Shining Sunbeams, Sapphire-vented Pufflegs, Sword-billed Hummingbirds and Tyrian Metaltails are regularly seen and Yanacocha is one of the few places in the world where, with luck, we could spot the critically endangered Black-breasted Puffleg. Puma and Spectacled Bears also inhabit this area although we would have to be very lucky to see these rare and elusive mammals. At the end of the trail we will have a picnic lunch before birding our way back to our vehicle. In the late afternoon we will return to Quito for dinner at a local restaurant and overnight once again at Mansion del Angel. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – Monday, August 26: Quito to Coca and on to the Amazon and Sacha Lodge

We will have an early breakfast at the hotel this morning before transferring to the airport for our flight from Quito to the Amazonian outpost of Coca. Once we arrive in Coca we will transfer from the airport to the boat docks on the Napo River. Once we have loaded our gear aboard the boat, and had a snack, we will find our seats for the ride downriver to Sacha Lodge. This journey will feel a little like expeditions of old as we board our boats for a two-hour, 50-mile ride, down the muddy Napo River. Wildlife will be abundant along the river. Once we arrive at Sacha Lodge’s dock we will hike on a raised boardwalk through a flooded palm forest. Our luggage will be transported to the lodge for us as we spy monkeys and birds along the trail. The trail eventually leads to Pilchicocha Lake where we will board dugout canoes for the final phase of our journey. We could spot all sorts of wildlife as we are paddled across the lake to the lodge. After a welcome drink and lunch we will settle into our rooms during the heat of the day. In the late afternoon we will begin our explorations of the surrounding environments. Monkeys and many species of birds frequent this area and we should observe many species in and around the lodge area. Sacha Lodge will be our home for the next three days and was built in harmony with nature. The forests and trails around the lodge are home to an incredible variety of wildlife. The rooms are very comfortable, the food is excellent and the staff is friendly and attentive. It will truly be a privilege to spend time in the Amazon at this first class facility. (B,L,D)

Days 4, 5 & 6 – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, August 27, 28 & 29: Sacha Lodge

We will have three full days to explore the wildlife wonders of the Amazon north of the Napo River! From our comfortable base at Sacha Lodge we will hike the many trails that ribbon their way through various habitats. We will also use boats to access the lakes and waterways that are such an important part of this ecosystem. The idea is to maximize our chances of seeing the greatest diversity of wildlife. Many of the mammals are difficult to see, but we should see plenty of monkeys, including large troops of Squirrel Monkeys, huge Red Howler Monkeys and the tiny Pygmy Marmoset. Agoutis could be seen as they search for fruit on the forest floor and Brown-throated Three-toed Sloths could be seen in the canopy. If we are lucky we could see larger mammals such as White-lipped Peccary or Red Brocket Deer, and if we are really lucky perhaps even one of the phantoms of the forest – a Puma or Ocelot. Reptiles and amphibians are abundant in the Amazon and we could see Spectacled Caiman, poison-dart frogs, various treefrogs and lizards and maybe even a Boa Constrictor or Anaconda. There have been 587 species of birds recorded at Sacha Lodge including the rare Zigzag Heron and dozens of colorful toucan, trogon, cotinga and oropendola species. Even the huge Harpy Eagle occasionally makes an appearance. We will have access to one of the most unexplored habitats in the Amazon – the rainforest canopy. Sacha Lodge has a canopy tower situated 135 feet above the ground in a giant Ceiba tree. Sacha also has a fantastic canopy walkway that is 940 feet long, held aloft by three towers and averages 94 feet above the ground. These structures will allow us unparalleled access to the canopy and the amazing wildlife. Each day will begin early and will be packed with exploring and activities – Piranha fishing anyone? At night we will likely have several hikes to look for reptiles and amphibians as well as arthropods, nocturnal birds and mammals. The rooms at Sacha Lodge are very comfortable and clean, and the food is terrific. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Friday, August 30: Yasuni Parrot Licks and on to Napo Wildlife Center

Today will begin with an early breakfast before we transfer by boat along the Napo River to Yasuni National Park to witness the incredible spectacle of hundreds of parrots feeding on clay from an exposed river bank. We will sit in a blind for close views of the many parrot species that come in to feed at the clay lick. From there we will visit another clay lick deep within the forest that attracts different species of parrots – especially Cobalt-winged Parakeets and Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlets. The boat that picked us up this morning was from Napo Wildlife Center and after our visit to the licks we will transfer to a different non-motorized boat for the journey up the Anangu Creek and across the lake to Napo Wildlife Center. No motorized boats are allowed on this stream or lake to avoid disturbing wildlife. We will be paddled up Anangu Creek for about an hour which will allow for extraordinary wildlife viewing along the way! We will have a packed lunch along the way and once we arrive at Napo Wildlife Center we will settle into our rooms. In the late afternoon we will begin our explorations of the surrounding area. (B,L,D)

Days 8, 9 & 10 – Saturday, Sunday & Monday, August 31, September 1 & 2: Napo Wildlife Center

We will have three full days to explore the forest and waterways surrounding the Napo Wildlife Center. This lodge is owned and operated by the indigenous Kichwa people and on one of the days we will have a chance to visit their village of Anangu. This will be an opportunity to learn about their culture, the projects they are undertaking and the way that ecotourism has had a positive impact on their lives. Additionally, on the hike back to the lodge, we will have the opportunity to learn about the plants the Kichwa harvest for food, medicinal uses and other purposes. From a wildlife perspective Napo Wildlife Center will be different than Sacha. The Napo River is a very effective barrier to animal movements and many of the species found here on the south side of the Napo are different than those we will have seen on the north side at Sacha. Golden-mantled Tamarins are an example of a mammal not found on the north side of the river, but are commonly seen at the Napo Wildlife Center. Despite the ability to fly, many birds are also unique to this area including the Black-necked Red Cotinga. Seeing these spectacularly colored birds on their lekking site will surely be one of the highlights of our trip. Napo Wildlife Center also has a canopy tower which we will use to access the treetops. The Center’s trails are varied and we will use the trails, the tower and the boats to maximize our chances to find the greatest biodiversity. (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Tuesday, September 3: Return to Coca, Fly to Quito

Today we begin the long journey home. After breakfast we will depart the Napo Wildlife Center and travel back upriver to Coca. Once at Coca we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Quito. In Quito we will transfer to La Mirage and will have time to relax and pack up before dinner. La Mirage is an incredible place with outstanding food, superior service and plush rooms. After our time in the jungle La Mirage will provide a bit of pampering before our long journey home! (B,L,D)

Day 12 – Wednesday, September 4: Departure for our US Gateway Cities and Home

After an early breakfast at the hotel this morning we will transfer to the airport for our flight from Quito to our US gateway city. Upon arrival in the US we will clear immigration and customs before transferring to our flights to our home cities. (B)

* Please note that EcoQuest Travel, Inc. will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.

Cost:

$3,615.00/person tour package

$   950.00/person International Airfare – see information below

$   169.00/person domestic airfare within Ecuador – see information below

$4,734.00/person all-inclusive*

Airline Ticketing

It is EcoQuest Travel’s philosophy to provide an all-inclusive price, but due to the volatile nature of the airline industry, we are only able to provide estimated airfares at this time.  The actual date of ticketing will determine the price.  Typically, we are accurate in our estimates, but please note that there may be a slight difference in pricing at the time of ticketing. If ticket prices at the time of booking are lower than our estimate the savings will be passed on to you. If they are higher you will be invoiced for the difference.

What’s Included:

  • Round-trip airfare from Raleigh/Durham, or alternate city, to Quito, Ecuador (please see the rules above)
  • All air, ground and boat transportation within Ecuador (Airfare from Quito to Coca and back is included, but this is subject to change – please see the rules above)
  • All accommodations – based upon double occupancy (single supplement is available at an additional cost – please inquire if you would like single accommodations)
  • All tours within the scheduled itinerary
  • Most meals are included throughout the trip (see the itinerary for details)
  • Permits, entrance fees and guides
  • The leadership services of EcoQuest Travel professionals

What’s Not Included:

  • Gratuities (for local drivers and guides)
  • Fees associated with obtaining a passport
  • Travel insurance (please see the Travel Insurance Section below)
  • Costs associated with pre-trip medical planning (such as vaccines)
  • Gifts and items of a personal nature
  • Departure Tax (currently $48.00/person – this is subject to change)

Travel Documents:

A passport valid for at least 6 months after our arrival is required for travel in Ecuador. No visa is required for US citizens.

Group Size:

The trip cost is based on a minimum number of participants – 8 people. Although 8 people are required in order to make this trip a reality; we are able to accommodate up to a maximum of 10 people.

Health Requirements:

The Ecuadorian Government does not require any vaccinations; however, there are several vaccines that are important to consider prior to traveling to South America.

These include Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B and Yellow Fever. One should also check to make sure that vaccines against Tetanus/Diphtheria and Polio are up to date. Malaria is present in Amazonian Ecuador and anti-malarial medications should be considered mandatory for this trip. Information on travel- related diseases and vaccines to prevent them can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website at: www.cdc.gov/travel

We highly recommend discussing all medical issues related to travel with your doctor well in advance of the proposed travel date.

Payments and Reservations:

A deposit of $1,500.00 per person is required along with your reservation form in order to reserve space on the trip. This ensures airline seating space and necessary early deposits. We encourage you to send the deposit well in advance of the date the first payment is due, as paying the deposit is the only way to secure your spot. Personal checks, money orders and credit cards are accepted. If paying by personal check it should be made payable to EcoQuest Travel, Inc. and on the memo line please indicate: For Ecuador Trip 2013. If paying by credit card you can include your credit card number and expiration date on your reservation form. This form is available on our website: www.ecoquesttravel.net and can be filled out online and submitted via email, or downloaded and mailed. Alternatively, you can phone your credit card information in to EcoQuest Travel at: (919) 963-3038. EcoQuest Travel accepts Visa, MasterCard and most bank debit cards.

Once the trip deposit has been paid the following is the schedule for the remaining payments:

  • A payment of at least $1,617.00 is required no later than February 1, 2013
  • The remainder of the trip expense ($1,617.00) will be due on or before April 26, 2013

Cancellation:

The initial deposit, as well as subsequent payments, will be used to purchase airline tickets and pay deposits for accommodations, travel arrangements, etc. in Ecuador. Therefore, if you must withdraw from the trip, irrespective of reason, a refund will not be possible. We strongly suggest that you protect yourself with the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. We will try to retain a wait list for this trip and it is possible that if you end up not being able to participate we will attempt to find a replacement for you; however, it is your responsibility to find a replacement or to have insurance.

  • Please note that in the event EcoQuest Travel, Inc. cancels this trip, due to circumstances beyond our control or low trip participant numbers, a refund of the initial deposit and any payments made will be issued.

Travel Insurance

EcoQuest Travel, Inc. partners with Allianz Global Assistance (formerly – Access America) to provide the best possible travel insurance for our clients.  They offer trip cancellation and worldwide emergency services (such as emergency evacuation and emergency medical services) as well as a host of other benefits.  You can find more information on EcoQuest Travel’s website (www.ecoquesttravel.net) including how to get quotes and sign up. You do not have to use Allianz Global Assistance and may choose to use another company. In either case, EcoQuest Travel, Inc. strongly suggests the purchase of trip cancellation/medical insurance. If you do decide to purchase travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance please give them the following EcoQuest Travel vendor (or ACCAM) number: F031120. This number identifies that you are working with an Allianz Global Assistance partner.

Note:  Pre-existing conditions will be waived by Allianz Global Assistance if you purchase travel insurance within 14 calendar days of your initial trip deposit.  For more information please see our website. To locate the travel insurance section of our website look on the destination page in the “click to go to” section on the right hand side of the screen under “purchase insurance”.

General Information:

Upon receiving your deposit and reservation form you will be registered for the trip. As we get closer to the trip’s departure date an additional information packet will be mailed to you that will include our flight information, baggage requirements, hints on what to bring and other useful information. The climate in the Andes could be particularly cold and dry, particularly early in the morning and at night. These cooler temperatures usually give way to warm and mild conditions during the day. In the Amazon hot humid conditions will be the norm and you should prepare for rain at any time. You will definitely need binoculars and will likely want a camera as well. Again, a more exhaustive list will be provided after you are registered for the trip.

Trip Leaders:

Dave Davenport: Zoologist and President of EcoQuest Travel, Inc.

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