NORTHERN ANDES PHOTO TOUR
|Duration:||9 days, 8 nights|
|* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.|
The below information is provided to inform people of what to expect if they participate in this tour and to advise participants on how to prepare for the tour. We try to provide accurate information but conditions and travel requirements can change over time.
Persons entering Ecuador require a valid passport with an expiration date more than 6 months after their planned departure from the country. Immigration officials may deny a person entry if their passport is not in good condition. US citizens do not require a visa to enter Ecuador. They must fill out a tourist card provided by the airline en route to the the country. Non-US citizens should check with the Ecuador embassy to find out about entry requirements.
A departure tax of $40.80 is assessed when leaving Ecuador.
Ecuador is on Eastern Standard Time.
Immunizations & Health
Please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding health issues and immunization requirements when traveling in Ecuador. See your travel doctor for specific recommendations at least 4-6 weeks prior to departure. The CDC recommends malaria preventatives below 4900 ft elevation, particularly in the eastern lowlands. There is active mosquito abatement programs in the Napo River region and malaria occurrences there are infrequent. The CDC also recommends vaccinations/boosters for hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus-diptheria, and measles. Ecuadorian authorities often require proof of yellow fever immunizations for anyone traveling to the eastern lowlands by air. Biting insects are for the most part not a problem.
Good medical care is available in major cities but not necessarily in smaller towns. Pharmacies are available in most towns as well as cities.
We recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance, which will reimburse you for any non-refundable payments you would otherwise lose if you must cancel your participation in the tour for some unforeseen reason. Trip cancellation insurance must normally be purchased within a short time after you register for the tour. Travel medical insurance is advisable, especially for those with chronic or known medical conditions.
Most sites we visit in Ecuador are at middle or higher elevations. The elevation in Quito is about 9000 ft, while Mindo is around 5500 ft. We reach elevations as high as 13,000 ft above Papallacta Pass for brief periods.
The climate in Ecuador is pleasant to cool with chilly nights at higher elevation locales such as Quito and Guango Lodge. Temperatures generally range from about 65F at night to 75F during the day. Rain or fog is possible, especially in afternoons. Rainy seasons differ on western and eastern slopes of the Andes. Rainy season is generally from December-May in the western Andes and July-November in the eastern Andes. November is a transitional month on both slopes and is an excellent time for birding as birds are active on both sides of the Andes.
Birding tours are conducted at an easy to moderate pace. Photo tours are conducted at a slower pace than birding tours to allow ample time for photography. Birding and photography are best in early morning and late afternoon, so days begin shortly after first light around 6:00-6:30 am. Breakfasts are typically early, around 5:00-6:00 am. Because we awake early, participants typically retire to their rooms immediately after we complete dinner and checklists for the day.
We do some road-side birding, especially going up Papallacta Pass. The trails we walk are for the most part level, wide, and easy walking. Some "trails" are actually dirt roads with little or no vehicular traffic. We also spend some time in gardens where we walk on grass or view hummingbirds at feeders. The trail to the antpitta and cock-of-the-rock sites at Refugio Angel Paz is very steep and can be muddy. There are steps and handrails on the steepest parts, but this trail requires people to be in reasonably good shape without significant foot or ankle problems.
We stay in a comfortable hotel used by most birding tours groups while in Quito. At other times we stay in comfortable eco-lodges throughout the tour. These are at sufficient altitude that air-conditioning is not needed. Electricity for re-charging batteries is always available. Further details can be found on the Accommodations link on the sidebar.
Meals at the lodges vary from very good to excellent, with a wide variety of meat, chicken, and fish available along with vegetables, wonderful soups, fresh fruit juices, and salads. The food at Cabanas San Isidro is of gourmet quality. While in Quito we have a choice of eating a la carte in the hotel restaurant or dining at one of several very good nearby restaurants.
We travel by comfortable, air-conditioned 16-passenger van with ample room for participants and gear on our Ecuador tours. Bottled water will always be available. Bathroom stops will be made as soon as possible upon request during transfers.
Registration & Payment
Please refer to the REGISTRATION menu for registration procedure. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended as payments may be partially or wholly non-refundable. See the GENERAL -> Policies menu for our refund policy.
General information about the tour, including where to meet the group and contact information, will be sent by email or US mail prior to departure. Checklists will be provided at the beginning of the tour. Additional information about our policies can be found on the REGISTRATION menu above. Please feel free to call us at 206-650-3425 or email us with any questions you may have.
Information last updated April, 2012.