Cabañas San Isidro lodge and lush cloud forest reserve can be reached by paved road from Quito’s new international airport in only about 2 hours, so getting here has gotten easy. San Isidro lies right between two large national parks, so ‘getting lost’ is part of the fun, and discovery is a daily event. Amazing cuisine, cooking clases, primary forest trails, mammal watching, birding, and archaeology are some of the activities waiting for you here!
HUMMINGBIRD FEEDING STATIONS
ANTPITTA FEEDING STATION BUTTERFLYING
HANDICRAFT, FISHING, COOKING CLASSES AND MORE FOR THE KIDS
GUINEA PIG FARM
ORCHID GARDEN & ORGANIC FARM
WHITE LIGHT FOR INSECT OBSERVATION
General Interest Programs
DAY 1: We will arrive at the beautiful San Isidro Cloud Forest Lodge mid-afternoon to get settled into our comfortable accommodations, surrounded by hummingbirds and other colorful birds. After a short rest, we will embark on a hike in the afternoon along San Isidro’s interpretive trail for a guided walk along a trail that will give us our first taste of the diverse cloud forests that surround us. Keep your eyes peeled, because visitors have been seeing Mountain Tapirs recently along this foray; it takes some luck and stealth, but this would be a grand find indeed. We will get back in time for some relaxation and to shower up before dinner.
At dinner we will be officially welcomed and have our first taste of Ecuador’s best-known hot toddy; a delicious drink – called “Guayusa” – made from water boiled with native Guayusa leaves, fruit juice, and a dash of cane alcohol, that is sure to help warm us up. After a magnificent dinner – San Isidro’s food is widely recognized for its originality and exquisite quality – a night hike awaits us, where we will be in search of owls, frogs, strange insects, nocturnal mammals or any other critter that might grace our presence. Night at San Isidro.
DAY 2: For those up for an earlier wake-up, birding around the lodge gardens is an option, where there is much activity. After an 8:00 buffet breakfast we can have a look at the Black Agoutis – native and large forest rodents – that come to feed on corn right around the cabins. Afterwards we will paddle through a beautiful cloud forest stream – enjoying its peacefulness and the sounds of the forest – that takes us to a forest trail that will lead us to a shallow, natural pool fed by a small waterfall where we will find pottery shards that have washed in – sometimes quite decorative – left behind from a group – the “Curisetas” (translated as the “Goldsmiths”) – that inhabited the region pre-colonially.
In the afternoon activities will be optional and can be programed with your guide, whether it be a relaxed dip in the heated pool with a lit fireplace, a visit to the medicinal/herb garden, cooking class with the staff, or a handicraft class. Night walk to look for frogs. Night at San Isidro.
DAY 3: After an 8:00 breakfast, we will immerse ourselves in San Isidro’s large cloud forest reserve, and hike down to the picturesque Cosanga River along a trail that leaves civilization behind. Bring your bathing suits along, because on a sunny day, a dip in the river – in the fresh mountain waters – can be very refreshing. We will make it back to the lodge in time to clean up for lunch, and enjoy another spectacular meal in the dining room that overlooks the reserve.
After a midday break, optional afternoon activities include the following: bow-and- arrow or blowgun target practice, fishing, heated pool and fireplace. Just let your guide know your preferences and have a great time! Dinner will be earlier this evening to allow time for the imaginative and elaborate Amazonian tasting menu waiting for us. We’ll take another stroll around the lodge to check the lights, where we will surely encounter a myriad of beetle and colorful moth species that have descended, their designs and patterns seemingly limitless! Night at San Isidro.
DAY 4: 8:00 breakfast. This morning we will take a hike up to the lucuma tree plantation where you can plant a tree and tag it with your name. Lucuma fruits are a tasty, succulent fruit, native to the zone, and you can be a part of the reforestation right here on the property. Lunch and departure.
Comfortable independent rooms with private bathrooms and hot showers.
Private porches in 10 of our rooms with a private hummingbird feeder.
Coffee makers in every room.
Sitting area in every room.
Delicious original and exotic food.
Guinea Pig tasting opportunity!
Various common areas.
Pool table, TV room, book exchange, darts, hammocks.
Full Birding Programs
Time to escape from Quito for what will be a busy day of birding! Today we will want to rise early and get on our way since we have a variety of habitats that we will want to explore. Our drive to Guango Lodge will initially lead us through the drier central valley where we will pass through a mix of agricultural zones and native chaparral forests before rising up steeply to the high and (often) windswept paramo. Among the many bird possibilities, we will be particularly on the lookout for Andean Condor (sometimes hard), Carunculated Caracara, Andean Gull, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Scrub & Blue-and-yellow Tanagers and Southern Yellow-Grosbeak. If there were a day to have your camera ready, this would be it – on clear days the scenery is spectacular, with superb views of the snow-capped Volcán Antisana, and seemingly endless high Andean mountain-scapes harboring a backdrop of textures that make for an unforgettable birding setting. This area, known as the Papallacta Pass by birders, is rich in paramo birdlife, and with the proper weather, you can expect to see some of the following: Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Tawny Antpitta, Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, some interesting seedeaters, and even Giant Conebill (with a bit of luck, up in the Polylepis woodlands). The Papallacta Pass is right on the continental divide, and once we finish up with our paramobirding, we will work our way down the east-slope – Amazonian drainage now – towards Guango Lodge. On the way we will pass through some beautiful high-elevation temperate forests where we will have a chance to stop and soak in this birdy zone; some of the possibilities include Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Viridian Metaltail, Red-crested Cotinga, Black-backed Bush-Tanager, just to name a very few. We aim to arrive to Guango Lodge for a hot, sit-down lunch, where the hummingbird feeders that will be dripping with species such as Tourmaline Sunangel, Sword-billed Hummingbird and White-bellied Woodstar.
After lunch we’ll devote our afternoon birding to the trails and spectacular hummingbird feeders at Guango Lodge. On the grounds at Guango we frequently run into some of the best temperate forest flocks on any of our tours in Ecuador; in a matter of minutes it isn’t uncommon to see Bar-bellied Woodpecker, White-banded Tyrannulet, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-capped and Black-eared Hemispingus, Slaty and Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, several species of mountain-tanager and even Plushcap. We will always have our eye out for other particularly local or aesthetic highlights, and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan and Mountain Avocetbill are among them.
Before it gets too late it will be time to turn our sights down-slope for an 1 ½ hour drive to Cabañas San Isidro. We will shoot to arrive in time to get settled into our rooms and even try and spotlight a Rufous-bellied Nighthawk at dusk before what will certainly be a delicious dinner. Assuming the weather cooperates, we will want to try a short night walk after dinner – right between the cabins and the dining room – in search of the “mystery owl”. This is a gorgeous owl that may one day prove to be a new species to science. Night at Cabañas San Isidro.
We plan to start the morning off with some birding right around the lodge, where we often find it hard to pull ourselves away… the birds just sometimes keep coming. Some of the regulars include Montane and Olive-backed Woodcreepers, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Black-billed Peppershrike, Inca Jay, Bluish Flowerpiercer and Subtropical Cacique! After about an hour of this, we will want to visit the Antpitta feeders, where you will likely see White-bellied Antpitta only feet away, and maybe even the very rare Peruvian (!). The rest of the morning will be spent birding the ample trail system and forested roadside at Cabañas San Isidro, where Long-tailed Antbirds, Plain-tailed Wrens and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias await.
After lunch at the lodge (and possibly an afternoon break), we can choose any of the trails that sprawl out from the lodge (or even the roadside) for a second crack at flocks and other activity… quetzals or maybe a fruiteater anybody? The true beauty of the day is that we have no need for vehicle commutes – any longer than a few minutes – so birding along slowly on foot (surrounded by rich habitat) is something that we will take full advantage of. We may even want to try a spot near the lodge for Andean Potoo and Rufous-banded Owl. Night at Cabañas San Isidro.
We will get up early and head to the Loreto Road (or to Coca Falls) where we will spend the day birding this scenic zone. In the eastern foothills the birding possibilities really explode, with a new sets of tanagers, antbirds, and others. Considering that this is one of the most biologically diverse spots on the planet we will want to spend a full day exploring these rich forested slopes. Assuming weather cooperates, we will have a long list of potential species. Here are some dreamy names to whet your appetite: White-backed Fire-eye, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Golden-eared, Orange-eared and Paradise Tanagers, and Golden-collared Honeycreeper. We might even luck into a fruiteater or two! We will want to bring along a packed lunch in order to take full advantage of our day in the field. Night at Cabañas San Isidro.
Morning birding the beautiful Guacamayos ridge trail – only about 20 minutes from the lodge by vehicle – where some of the birds we hope to see include Green-and-black Fruiteater, Handsome Flycatcher, Rufous Wren, Turquoise Jay, Grass-green Tanager, a few species of skulking tapaculos (and maybe even an Ocellated) and Northern Mountain-Cacique. While not as common, but still regularly seen here, some of the other harder possibilities include Greater Scythebill, Dusky Piha and Black-billed Mountain-Toucan. The forest here is simply enchanting and an even that no birder wants to miss when visiting the San Isidro area. Afternoon birding the trails at San Isidro.Night San Isidro.
Depending on the guide’s plan for the day, we may bird in the morning and enjoy one last meal at Cabañas San Isidro, or choose to bring along a box lunch for our birding drive back to Quito to give us a chance at cleaning-up some of the missed species we had searched for on the first day. Night in Quito.
The quote includes: Four nights full board at Cabañas San Isidro, extra box lunch on first day, entrance fees (Cayambe-Coca National Park and Guacamayos ridge trail), transportation and professional birding guide services according to option chosen (if you choose option 3 the itinerary will vary as you will not have a guide or transportation all days) and all taxes. The quote does not include: Extra drinks (sodas, beers, wines, etc.), insurance, Coca Falls entrance fee, extra expensesfor delayed baggage arrival, tips and other personal expenses (laundry, phone calls, etc.).
|FULL BOARD (per person / per night)|
|LODGING + BREAKFAST (per person / per night)|