Birds of Ecuador
April 28 – May 3, 2025
A Birdwatcher's Paradise
Witness the astounding biodiversity of this Andean Rainforest alongside a small group of epic adventurers! With more than 1,680 different species of birds, Ecuador is one of the most popular destinations in the world for birdwatchers. This trip is organized as an extension excursion to our May 5 – 12, 2025 Galapagos Photo Adventure.
The region’s 260 mm monthly rainfall creates an incredible habitat for species big and small. Together, we will explore the mountainsides of the Andes from 1640 feet – 11,155 feet to explore the diverse wildlife there. The lush environment offers dynamic opportunities to photograph stunning wildlife subjects, like toucans, macaws, monkeys, tree frogs, massive amounts of hummingbirds, such as :
- Booted Racket-tail
- Fawn-breasted Brilliant
- Buff-tailed Coronet
- Purple-throated Woodstar
- Andean Emerald
- Brown Inca
- Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
- Violet-tailed Sylph
- White-necked Jacobin
- Green-crowned Woodnymph
- Speckled Hummingbird
- Purple-bibbed Whitetip
- Western Emerald
- Sparkling Violetear
- Brown Violetear
- Lesser Violetear
- Empress Brilliant
- Green-crowned Brilliant
- Velvet-purple Coronet
- White-bellied Woodstar
- Tawny-bellied Hermit
- And many more…
View wildlife from a variety of vantage points like lodge balconies, walking trails, canopy viewing towers, and designated pollinator gardens with spaces dedicated for photographers to work with the environment and capture the scene.
During our excursion together, we will not only scout the spectacular wildlife in the area, but also learn of the intense conservation efforts to save this habitat from human intrusions like oil and logging industries, and have the opportunity to meet the families and groups diligently protecting these areas.
Throughout the workshop, you will learn how to compose compelling images, use the environmental conditions to your advantage, and master the technical aspects of photography. Whether you’re a beginner photographer or a seasoned pro, our experienced instructors will provide personalized instruction and guidance to help you improve your skills and take your wildlife and landscape photography to the next level.
This comprehensive photo adventure is operated in conjunction with David Swindler of Action Photo Tours and will be an unforgettable educational experience for all.
We offer personalized in-the-field instruction to best hone in your images and streamline your creative visions, as well as image reviews and editing sessions aboard our ship to continue honing the skills and techniques learned throughout the workshop.
Sign up now to create lasting memories and stunning photographs you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
This unique educational excursion offers exciting photo access to 8 participants and 2 instructors.
Maintaining a smaller group size ensures everyone receives individual attention during downtimes and one-on-one in-the-field instruction in order to make once in a lifetime images. We will make time to do as many group image reviews during the evenings aboard our boat.
My workshops are distinctive in that they’re fully inclusive– your tuition cost covers all expenses from the moment you arrive to the moment you depart Ecuador. We provide our guests the best possible accommodations, dining options, and unique educational opportunities in the region.
As a workshop leader, I take your trust in my expertise very seriously. I work in tandem with the respective National Park Service of any photo locations, and I always operate under the proper insurance, permits, and certifications.
You will be accompanied by Juan Pons and David Swindler during this workshop. Juan is an accomplished professional wildlife and travel photographer and educator with a deep passion for the outdoors and conservation. David is the founder of Action Photo Tours, and a longtime co-instructor alongside Juan.
Juan and his team believe the best way to teach is by demonstrating, and to this end, we will be shooting alongside you, showing you our technique, and sharing our love and knowledge of wildlife and the landscape. However, our priority is always YOU, and assisting you to get the best images YOU can get.
The biggest advantage of having small groups is the flexibility they provide for customizing and adjusting our schedule to accommodate both to the unpredictable weather and the interests of the group as a whole. This allows us to cover only those topics that you are all interested in, including:
• Techniques for creating exciting and captivating wildlife images
• Best use of your equipment
• Post-processing demos to enhance the quality of your images
• Image reviews
My workshops are fairly intensive experiences, and as such, you should not expect this to be a leisurely vacation. Our goal is to capture the best images we can during our time in this remarkable location. This means there will be days we begin very early and return to our lodging very late. However, we will always have breaks and lunch rest hours.
On this workshop, you will fly into and depart from Quito, Ecuador (Airport code UIO). You will receive important instructions from my team to secure your flights 6 months prior to the workshop.
Then, about 3 months prior to the workshop, you will start hearing from me and my team on a regular basis. I will provide you with a Workshop Information Packet with all relevant details, as well as go over more info regarding the workshop to get you inspired and thinking about the images you want to capture during the workshop. These provided documents will list all recommended clothing, equipment, and even discounts for gear you may want to acquire for this excursion.
Juan, David, and Juan’s assistant, Jaclyn, are always available to answer any questions you may have leading up to the excursion- simply call or email and we can help you as best we can.
Additionally, we will schedule a Zoom meeting 8 – 10 weeks prior to the start of our workshop. There, you can meet your fellow workshop participants, ask any questions before traveling, receive insights and recommendations for reference books, and much more.
Tuition for the workshop is $5.995.00 USD per person for a double occupancy stateroom.
If you would like to opt for private accommodation, a single room supplement is available for $700.00 USD.
If you would like to reserve your spot on this workshop, you can do so with a $1,995.00 USD deposit. The remaining balance of the workshop is due 120 days prior to the first day of the workshop.
If you are in need of a special payment arrangement, please reach out and we are happy to work with you.
• All private ground transportation
• Accommodations for 5 nights at lodge
• All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
• All snacks and water during daily outings
• Non-alcoholic beverages during the workshop
• All permits, fees, and gratuities
• In-the-field instruction
• Image reviews and post-processing sessions
• Creative inspiration and group camaraderie
• An unforgettable experience
• Air travel to and from your home country to Quito, Ecuador
• Any applicable items of a personal nature, such as laundry services and alcoholic beverages
• Travel, Medical, and Trip Cancellation Insurance (highly recommended)
• Anything else specifically not listed as included
• You are responsible for making your own flight arrangements to and from Quito, Ecuador. We will assist you with flight arrival times and departures prior to your booking. Please do not book your flight reservations until you receive explicit instructions from our team.
• Deposit is fully refundable up until 120 days prior to the start of the workshop, NO REFUNDS are permitted less than 120 days prior to the start of the workshop.
• Make sure to check the Terms and Conditions for all my workshops.
We highly recommend Travel Insurance from a reputable insurance company. I have partnered with Squaremouth, a website that allows you to compare multiple travel policies from multiple providers to choose the best one for you based on your needs and costs. Check them out here: https://www.squaremouth.com/
When photographing wildlife and nature, the key is to remain flexible to adjustments in order to maximize our daily itinerary as needed to observe the most optimal times for wildlife and lighting conditions.
An example workshop itinerary is as follows:
April 28, 2025: Arrival
On Day 1, after their arrival into Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, guests are transferred to a nearby hotel. There, you can take time to relax before a welcome dinner.
April 29, 2025: Exploring Zuro Loma
On Day 2, we start the tour driving just 90 minutes out of Quito to Zuro Loma Reserve. This are is said to be the “soul of Ecuador’s Cloud Forest”, and an excellent location to get our first sights of the birds of the region. We hope to see an assortment of hummingbirds like the Sword-billed, Mountain Velvetbreast, Collared Inca, and Sapphire-vented Puffleg, as well as Andean Guan, Masked and Glossy Flowerpiercers, Yellow-breasted Brushfinch, and Blue-capped Tanager, Red-crested Cotinga, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, and Black-crested Warbler.
In the evening, we arrive at our lodging for the next 5 nights, the Tandayapa Bird Lodge. This gorgeous lodge is set within rich subtropical forest in the Andes of western Ecuador. Birds like the White-booted Racket-tail, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-bibbed White-tip, Purple-throated Woodstar, Buff-tailed Coronet, Brown Inca, and a variety of toucanets and tanagers can be observed up-close on the property.
April 30, 2025: Exploring Mindo Forest Reserve
On Day 3, early risers can photograph Slate-throated Redstart, Toucan Barbet, Golden-bellied Flycatcher, and heaps of hummingbird species frequently found on the property in the early morning hours.
We then make our way to a premier hummingbird location to practice this enticing style of wildlife portraiture, the world-famous Birdwatcher’s House. This location hosts two bird blinds that blend within the surrounding native forests, as well as beautiful native and non-native gardens for innumerable photo opportunities. Other birds to be seen here are the Turquoise Jay, Masked Trogon, and Risky Chlorospingus can be seen here.
We enjoy an action-packed day here, and return to our lodge for another relaxing evening of great conversations and helpful editing sessions.
May 1, 2025: Exploring San Tadeo
On this day, the group makes their way to San Tadeo, a beautiful tanager and hummingbird garden owned by Rolando, member of the local community who has worked very hard to transform this area as a birding epicenter.
There are some very interesting and regionally-specific species to be watched here like the Beryl Spangled Tanager, and Black Capped Tanager, to name a few.
In the mid-afternoon, we return to Tandayapa Bird Lodge to relax around the property, devote time to photograph the numerous bird species that frequent the lodge and its surrounding hiking trails, and perhaps conduct a group image review.
May 2, 2025: Exploring Mashpi Amagusa Reserve
On Day 5, and our final full day, we head to Mashpi Amagusa Reserve. This privately owned protected forest and a noted important bird area (IBA). This location is a favorite for birders due to its high biodiversity regions with chocó endemic birds like the Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Golden Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Rose-faced Parrot, Orange-fronted Barbet, Toucan Barbet, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Mossbacked Tanager, Choco Vireo, and Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
This reserve has been tended to by a family devoted to conservation for almost 30 years, and their diligent work has attracted hummingbird species like the Empress Brilliant, Velvet- purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown Inca, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, and White-whiskered Hermit.
May 3, 2025: Exploring Refugio Paz de Las Aves and Return to Quito
On Day 6, we climb our way up to the cloud forest of Refugio Paz de Las Aves. This 25 hectare protected reserve is a mini oasis for the increasingly threatened biosphere, a UNESCO designation the region earned in 2018. This region’s biodiversity is impressive, with six antpitta species (Giant, Yellow-breasted, Moustached, Chestnut-crowned, Scaled, and Ochre-breasted), dark-backed wood quail, lyre-tailed nightjar, and many hummingbird species. This location boasts a specialized blind to spot the Andean Cock-of-the-rock.
This is our final bird outing before heading back to Quito, where we will check into our lodging, enjoy one final group dinner, and prepare to depart the next day.