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Tailored from £9,600 per person excl. flights

12 days Imbabura & Otavalo, Mindo Valley, Galápagos

Ecuador's unique biosphere hosts a vast array of epic birdlife, come into contact with some of the world's most unique species.

Ecuador's magnificent array of microclimates and ecosystems means that this country is home to the world's most unique bird species. Over the course of two weeks, this journey will introduce avid birders to hundreds of curious inhabitants in the wild. Bring your binoculars and cameras definitely won't go a miss. Enjoy the peace and serenity of fantastical natural settings, and just sit back listening to the gentle humming of wings beating the fresh air around you.  

Your journey begins in the highland regions, at Imbabura & Otavalo where we'll give you a few days to relax and acclimatise to mountain air. Our luxury hacienda is the perfect place to do so whilst getting up close with magnificent Andean Condors at the Raptor Rescue Centre. Learn about these majestic beings, and enjoy rural life on the farm immersed in the glorious highlands. 

Next up our driver will take you from the highlands to the dense cloud forest. Your lodge is supremely located within the Chocó Reserve, near Mindo and here there is no distance between guests and the surrounding forests teeming with life. Hummingbirds abound, there are over 32 species identified here. Each day follow winding paths, climb treetop canopy lookout towers, and swim in the pools of crystalline waterfalls. Here, you'll never have to venture far at all to discover an abundance of wildlife. 

Of course, we'll finish up in the Galápagos. Out on deck, on foot hiking across the volcanic islands and even whilst swimming in the Pacific Ocean, the birds of this archipelago are vast and varied. Be sure to check your dates, as at certain times of the year migratory species (such as Waved Albatross hatching in May) are particularly active.

What's included:

  • Internal flights
  • Accommodation
  • Private transfers
  • Meals & drinks (as mentioned in full itinerary)
  • Professional local naturalist guides with fair salaries
  • Cultural immersion experiences
  • National park fees
  • Outdoor activities (SUP, tubing, kayaking)
  • Wildlife safaris

Call us on +44 117 313 3300 to start planning your holiday, we’re looking forward to hearing from you


Trip Itinerary

Day 1 - 3: Imbabura & Otavalo

Day 1 - Arrival in Ecuador
Day 1 - Arrival in Ecuador Listing Image

¡Bienvenido a Ecuador! Today you will be met at the arrivals by our Wayfairer representative and escorted straight out of the city to your countryside lodge near Otavalo.

Hacienda Zuleta is the perfect setting to kick back and relax after a long journey. Surrounded by stunning vistas of Ecuadors highland region surrounding, this time is yours to acclimatise to higher altitudes and get to know the world of a hacienda with deep heritage. 

Day 2 - Raptor Rescue Centre
Day 2 - Raptor Rescue Centre Listing Image

Rise to the blissful sounds of nature surrounding, and have a gorgeous breakfast outside in the farm's 18th century courtyard. 

Following breakfast, you'll visit a rescue centre for the protection and recovery of a number of species of birds of prey. Amongst these is the magnificent Andean Condor, who is famous for it's colossal wingspan, reaching over 8 feet. Learn about this marvellous creature and its cultural significance to Andean indigenous cultures. Learn about beautiful birds of prey found in the North Andes.

From here, our driver will take you to the world famous market held at Otavalo - well worth a stop as you're in the area. Learn about the Indian heritage, and see the colourful array of crafts showcased at this bustling hub of commerce in the Andes. From the foot of Mount Imbabura to Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve, you'll have an outdoor picnic Andean style and watch magnificent birds of prey soar overhead. 

Day 3 - Hikes from the Hacienda

This morning you're free to visit Hacienda Zuleta's organic garden, feed their baby calves, talk to the vaqueros, enjoy the embroidery museum... Or just relax in the beautiful gardens surrounding.

Your accommodation owners are renowned for producing some of Latin America's best cheese. Before lunch, learn about the 14 different types of cheese made here. Each variety is handmade with local milk by the people who live in this area. It's artisan cheese made just outside your doorstep. 

This afternoon after a delicious lunch provided by Zuleta's resident home cooks, you'll feel well fuelled for a two hour hike surrounded by Andean mountain scenery. You'll pay a visit to the hacienda's condor reintroduction projet. Along the way, you'll learn about the Inca mounds famous to the area and how this area was part of the Inca dynasty's northern-most territory. 

Day 4 - 7: Chocó Reserve (Mindo)

Day 4 - Journey to Mindo
Day 4 - Journey to Mindo Listing Image

This morning after breakfast our driver will pick you up for a scenic drive west out of the highlands and into the cloud forests of Mindo. Youll follow the course of the Rio Blanco, watching as the vegetation changes as the altitude gradually drops. Youl pass the town of Nanegalito and head along winding country roads, passing the archeological site of Tulipe and farming communities. 

At noon youll arrive in Mashpi Lodge, one of Ecuadors most renowned birding destinations due to its secluded and unspoilt surroundings in the Mashpi Reserve just west of the Mindo Valley. The lodge is almost entirely made of glass, so theres no separation between you and the natural surroundings. Your time at Mashpi is your own to experience and with the help of our specialised expedition staff and naturalist guides you can choose from any activities on offer. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided from the organic restaurant and we encourage you try some of their incredible cocktails in the evenings. 

When darkness falls, a new troupe of creatures will emerge. This evening, if you wish, follow in the footsteps of professional nature guides to discover transparent animals and colourful snakes, frogs, insects and tarantulas. 

When you get back tonight sleep with your window ajar to hear the nocturnal orchestra of the forest surrounding. 

Day 5 - Mashpi Magic
Day 5 - Mashpi Magic Listing Image

This morning you'll rise early - it's difficult to sleep in at Mashpi with a wake-up call of countless species just outside your window. Enjoy a hot beverage in the lobby and watch the feeds busy with colourful birds coming to join you.

You'll be joined by our birding specialist on a pathway through the reserve to the Life Centre, stopping to view flocks of birds and eye-catching Tanagers found no where else in the world along the way. You'll be following the Howler Monkey Trail, and no doubt you'll be joined by the sounds of these bellowing primates along your journey. Wind through the primary forest dominated by ancient trees, the copal being perhaps the most emblematic. Early in the morning you'll have the best chance of viewing some of the rarest birds including the Quail Carirrufa and the Antpittas Coronirrufa. Our guides are incredibly attentive to the sounds, and will seek elusive creatures whilst teaching about the ecology of this unique environment. 

The Life Centre offers incredible views of the forest from its large wooden deck and it is here that you'll enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast. Not far from the centre, amble through the tropical garden admiring dozens of electric coloured butterflies. Mid-morning, head back to the hotel to spend time by the countless feeds with a pair of binoculars before heading off on your next expedition down the Cucharillos path - named after an endangered endemic Ecuadorian tree along the route. Reach the rocky river bed of a lagoon, and plunge into the fresh water pools supplied with a gentle flow from the waterfall. 

Set off on a sunset walk to experience sounds and movements of the forest intensify at dusk. As the sun descends below the horizon and darkness surrounds, the fireflies come to life and the forest floor is lit with bioluminescent fungi. Tonight you'll be trekking owls, and no doubt you'll hear their familiar calls before seeing the beautiful creatures themselves. 

Day 6 - Hummingbird Station
Day 6 - Hummingbird Station  Listing Image

Dawn light attracts the widest variety of fascinating species in their search for a nourishing breakfast. The natural diversity at Mashpi is incredibly vivid at this time of day, and our naturalists will take you out in the morning to experience a fantastic array of birds species up-close before breakfast. 

Following breakfast on the terrace, walk for 15 minutes on a new trail to reach the Air Bike and Observation Tower to witness the jungle from high up above. 70% of the biodiversity of the forest is 30 meters up in the treetops, and this experience is enlivening offering a new perspective of the exuberance of Mashpi. Walk on the Path Oxibelis back past a small waterfall, admire the colourful parade of birds and beautiful songs of the cloud-forest. With a spot of luck, you may observe contigas - the species renowned amongst ornithologists for their singular beauty and rarity.

Return to the lodge for freshly squeezed fruit juice and a deliciously varied almuerzo. This afternoon you'll be paying a visit to the Hummingbird Station where 32 different species of hummingbirds have been identified to date and you'll see at least 19 different species today benefitting from the feeds. Sit and absorb the beautiful energy and watch as toucans and tanagers pay their visits too, with a breathtaking backdrop of the reserve's forested hills.  

Day 7 - Onward Explorations
Day 7 - Onward Explorations Listing Image

Today, after a slow-paced morning relaxing around the lodge our driver will pick you up at 11:30 to escort you just south to Quito. You'll have a scenic pitstop for a picnic along the way. 

This evening you'll check into our luxury airport hotel for the night to rest before you set off to the Galápagos Islands tomorrow morning. 

Day 8 - 12: Galápagos

Day 8 - Arrive in Galápagos
Day 8 - Arrive in Galápagos Listing Image

This morning you'll fly for 2 hours from Quito to the Baltra Airport in the Galápagos Islands. As you begin your descent into the archipelago, you'll be astounded by the dramatic volcanic terrain jutting out of turquoise and deep blue ocean. This awesome landing is a precursor to the experiences to be had here. 

You'll be met by our driver and taken straight to the dock where the M/C Endemic awaits your arrival. Our luxury catamaran was specifically designed to cruise in the Galápagos, and with only 16 passengers there's plenty of space for peace, quiet and privacy on board from your balcony, the deck, or your spacious room. Our vessel was new to 2019, and its floor to ceiling windows expose panoramic views of the ocean. 

This afternoon, after settling in on board, you'll have the opportunity to see some of the most iconic bird species on the islands. Dragon Hill is on the north-western side of Santa Cruz, and it is here that a flamigos' lagoon is home to not only it's pink inhabitants, but also pintail ducks, flycatchers and warblers. Enjoy spectacular views atop the hill, and snorkel off shore before returning to the yacht. 

Day 9 - Species of Land & Sea
Day 9 - Species of Land & Sea Listing Image

This morning, enjoy a colourful and fresh breakfast out on deck with views of Kicker Rock. Around this geological marvel, are hundreds of nesting maritime bird species and the waters below are abundant with life including turtles, sharks and rays. See what goes on above and below water to deeper understand how the complex ecosystem here operates. 

Just south west of San Cristóbal, you'll explore Witch Hill - renowned for its population of the little vermilion flycatcher, an endemic species in the Galápagos. These vibrant birds can be seen with a little luck, and the male's striking red plumage is truly spectacular when spotted. 

Ride in a zodiac across the island's shore, and you will reach a white sand beach with crystal-clear waters which provides a fantastic opportunity for snorkelling. This afternoon, you'll visit a population of great frigate birds nesting, along with blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans at Lobos Island. 

Day 10 - Española's Waved Albatross
Day 10 - Española's Waved Albatross Listing Image

This morning, go for an early morning dip at Gardner Bay - an area which provides outstanding snorkelling amongst sea lions, fur seals and marine iguanas. 

Today you'll be getting to know the southernmost and oldest island in the Galápagos, Española. This is home to endemic birds such as the hood-mockingbird and of course the masked and blue-footed boobies. Enjoy a walk on the island with our naturalist guide and take in world-class views at the top of the hill. 

Following lunch back on board, a snorkel and wildlife spotting, you'll visit point Suarez which features the chance to see the waved albatross - an extremely rare species that only makes its home on the Galápagos. The rugged pathway opens up onto the coast, and from April to December each year the area is inundated with these magnificent and iconic birds waddling off to the cliff's edge and take off in flight. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Day 11 - Darwin's Finch & Galápagos Hawk
Day 11 - Darwin's Finch & Galápagos Hawk  Listing Image

This morning you'll anchor up on an island where so much wildlife resides. On the cliffs of Santa Fe live swallow tailed gulls, shear water petrels and red billed tropicbirds. This is one of the most exciting destinations for land-based excursions. 

Follow a winding trail into the highlands, where you'll be greeted by yellow land iguanas and lava lizards. After a long walk through vibrant cacti, take a refreshing dip in the ocean before your afternoon adventure to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Become familiarised with different subspecies of giant tortoise, and interact with these peaceful creatures before they are reintroduced to their natural habitats. 

This evening if your final night, so sit out on deck or enjoy a sundowner in the hot-tub as you reflect on your incredible sightings throughout your journey. Just one more adventure awaits tomorrow. 

Day 12 - Day of Departure
Day 12 - Day of Departure Listing Image

This morning, you have one more stop at South Plazas island. Amble through unique sesuvium plants and opuntia cactuses scattered across the landscape. Watch land iguanas bask beneath dappled shade, waiting for a prickly pear to fall. 

Enjoy one last breakfast on board and some thirst quenching juice before your private transfer back to Baltra airport where you'll bid farewell to the Galápagos and indeed Ecuador. 

Talk to the team

Find out more and tailor your perfect trip with the help of
our specialist team on +44 117 313 3300

Why Wayfairer

At Wayfairer we are incredibly selective about the lodges and tour providers we choose to partner with.

On each journey to Ecuador, our guests will be engaging with positive, eco and sustainable tourism which ensures that their experience will be culturally enriching and beneficial for the country that they are visiting and its inhabitants.

Our partners know this destination well and are doing their utmost to protect and repair the incredibly important ecosystem here. It is integral to our work as luxury travel specialists that we support and cherish this. 

Throughout your Wayfairer journey, you will have the full support of our Luxury Concierge team who are all ears to any amendments, adjustments or queries along the way. 

Why Wayfairer Ecuador Birding Tour

Call us on +44 117 313 3300 to start planning your holiday, we’re looking forward to hearing from you