Dates & Prices


Dates: 2 – 19 November 2019 Places available

Price: £4,975

Single Room Supplement: £595

Deposit: £500 per person

Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, drinking water, domestic flights, ground & river transport, services of guides, holiday report & a donation to Butterfly Conservation

Not Included: International flights, travel insurance, drinks & any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to Butterfly Conservation

Leader(s): David Geale

Group Size: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 guests plus 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Gentle pace & easy walking. Ideally suited to photography

Holiday Highlights

  • A not to be missed opportunity to go butterflying with expert guide David Geale in a hotbed of butterfly biodiversity!
  • Approximately 4,000 butterfly species known in Ecuador, a relatively small country for such an amazing number!
  • Enjoy a huge number of butterfly species and probably as many as 650 – 750, from the 2,000+ known species in the part of Ecuador we’ll be exploring
  • Staggering diversity of butterflies and other wildlife in one of the most bio diverse parts of the world!
  • Relaxed pace ideally suited to photography + bait used to provide excellent photo opportunities!
  • Improve your butterfly photography with hints & tips from David 
  • Contribute to butterfly conservation

The ultimate tour for enjoying the best of Andean butterflying, led by one of the best guides in the tropics!


Holiday Guide

David Geale has led nature (especially birdwatching) tours in the Neotropics since 2001, but began specializing in butterflies in 2011. Since that time he has become one of the most prolific photographers of wild butterflies in the Andean countries especially, where he has led more butterfly photography tours than anyone else over that time period.

Learning from local enthusiasts and through much experimentation, he has become recognized as an expert in various baiting techniques – which is the key to making butterflies accessible and cooperative for cameras!

Groups are always impressed with his helpfulness and knowledge in identifying the day’s butterflies during evening “ID sessions” and these have become a notable and popular fixture during his tours.

An exciting 18 day butterfly watching holiday in Ecuador, led by David Geale, one of the best butterfly and bird guides in the tropics!!

New for 2019! Join our exciting and exclusive 18 day butterfly expedition to Ecuador with expert guide David Geale! Prepare to be beguiled by the sheer abundance of butterflies of every shape and colour you can imagine! 

Ecuador is the definition of a mega-diverse country: although it is the smallest of the Andean countries in terms of land area, it is home to thousands of species of butterflies. Our quest to see as many of them as we can is facilitated by good roads, comfortable lodges, and the fact that Ecuador straddles the narrowest part of the great Andean cordillera. This allows us to visit the Choco lowlands and cloud forest on the West Slope for a few days, and then travel to the East Slope and the Amazon rainforest in just a few hours’ drive. Our expected trip list for this tour is somewhere around 700 species, and thanks to our special bait you should be able to get photographs of most of them!

Our tour will begin in one of the wettest forests in the world; we’ll search for butterflies whenever possible, but when it rains we will also enjoy beautiful birds – toucans, barbets, tanagers, hummingbirds – visiting our lodge’s bird feeders. Our lodge is at Milpe, in mid-elevation cloud forest, but we’ll also make at least one day trip to lower elevation to look for lowland butterflies (including at least 3 species of Sarota metalmarks). Other highlights in this area often include Caligo atreus– a stunning owl-butterfly – and, if we get strong sun in the late morning, some nice hairstreaks.

On the way to the East Slope, we’ll check some spots for high-elevation blues and whites (Itylos nodoand Tatochila sagittataare possible) before descending into a different cloud forest, this one’s diversity enhanced by the vast Amazon rainforest below. Over the next two weeks, we’ll spend time at three different lodges, ranging in elevation from 500 to 1500 m., each with its own unique set of beautiful butterflies. In the higher areas, we’ll look for a great variety of satyrs and some delicate glasswings including Veladyris pardalis; our mid-elevation lodge is home to some wonderful Argyrogrammana metalmarks and Heliconius hierax, an endemic species of longwing. The best butterflying of the trip is likely to be at our lowest destination, around the bustling rainforest town of Tena. We’ll visit various sites in the area, looking for shimmering Evenus hairstreaks, blue and purple-topped leafwings, giant Morpho and owl-butterflies, and of course my personal favourites: a seemingly endless variety of metalmarks, so diverse in colour, pattern, and shape that you’ll hardly believe they all belong in the same family.

We’ll conclude the tour by returning to the high Andes – that’s where the airport is, after all – for a day and night at the Papallacta hot springs, where we’ll hope for some rarely-seen butterflies and can certainly relax in the hot spring bathing pools right outside our rooms.

This is the ultimate tour for enjoying all the best of Andean butterflying; if you’ve never done it before, it’s a great chance to get an introduction to the diversity of what can be seen, and if you have been in South America before, you’ll appreciate the variety of rarely-encountered and poorly-known species we’ll find. Ecuador is full of butterflies flitting along mountain streams, floating over Andean grasslands or through misty cloud forest, and hiding in the dim Amazonian understory, and we’ll spend 17 days looking for them all!

We hope to welcome you on what promises to be a truly memorable holiday!


Day 1 (2nd November): The group will arrive in Quito today, and transfer to Zaysant Ecolodge, in Puembo. Supper included as the the first meal of the tour.

Day 2 (3rd November): To the Choco. We’ll leave Quito after breakfast and make a three-hour drive to the Tandayapa Valley, where we’ll spend the day butterflying along a dirt road. This will be our first taste of Andean butterflies: expect a variety of satyrs (especially Pedaliodes and Lymanopoda) and whites (Leodonta, Leptophobia) with a few nice skippers and metalmarks mixed in. We’ll stay here as long as weather allows before completing our drive to Milpe in the afternoon, where we’ll settle into our first lodge for the trip – the San Jorge ecolodge in Milpe.

Days 3-6 (4th – 7th November): Exploring the Choco. The Choco Region is famous for its biodiversity, but also for its endemnism – we’ll see a lot in these four days that will not be present at other sites later on in the tour. There is a great network of trails at the lodge, and we’ll bait them an hope for some great metalmarks in the forest (a recent trip produced Argyrogrammana barine, Cariomothis poeciloptera, and Thisbe ucubus among others, all in one day!) and a variety of brushfoots especially in open areas – including several nice Heliconius species and crescents. We’ll make a couple of day trips to nearby areas; one especially good place around Rio Silanche can produce several stunning Sarota species among many others.

Day 7 (8th November): Over the Andes. The Andes in Ecuador are not especially wide, and that – in combination with good paved roads – makes it possible to easily cross from the Western foothills to the Eastern cloudforest in a day. We should even have time to look for butterflies along the way, wherever the weather allows. One favourite stop is near the treeline on the East Slope, where we can hope for some nice Dalla skipperlings and of course more satyrs (these dominate the butterfly diversity at high elevations in the Andes). In the afternoon, we’ll arrive at Rio Quijos Ecolodge on the banks of the Rio Quijos.

Days 8-9  (9th – 10th November): Upper East Slope. We’ll have two days to enjoy a range of cloudforest butterflies in the Baeza area – a traditional butterfly collecting site, but now better-known for ecotourism. The “beach” is a great place to watch for spectacular firetips and actinotes, while the many short forest trails behind the lodge are host to various glasswings and more unique metalmarks like Nahida coenoides and Anteros kupris. This is also a good area for wonderful dartwhites, including the beautiful Catasticta apaturina. Overnight again in Rio Quijos Ecolodge.

Day 10 (11th November): To the Amazon. Today is another travel day, but the drive is only about 3 hours, so we’ll spend most of the day photographing more great bugs! We’ll probably spend our time in the Cosanga area, which is especially good for glasswings – among our targets will be the spectacular Veladyris pardalis and Oleria baizana. Other possibilities include some different dartwhites, Mimardaris pityusa, and Orophila cardases. Again, we’ll arrive at our next lodge in the afternoon, Casa del Abuelo.

Days 11 – 13 (12th – 14th November): Fun in the foothill! The Tena area is one of the world’s great butterflying areas, and we’ll spend 3 full days exploring its wonders. The possibilities here are nearly endless; we’ll spend each day at a different site, sampling an astounding variety of butterflies from all families. Among the most popular finds are often Prepona (Agrias) claudina, Caria rhacotis, many nice Adelpha species, Anteros renaldus, and lots more. Also worth mentioning is the number of pretty Euselasia species that usually visit bait, and the possibility of some great hairstreaks – an Evenus species or two is almost expected here, which is unusual anywhere in the Neotropics! All in all, this should be a spectacular few days of butterflying. Overnight at Casa del Abuelo.

Day 14 (15th November): Back up into the Andes. We again have about 3 hours of driving today, so we’ll most likely spend the whole morning at our favourite site around Tena – there’s always more to see here – before driving back uphill to our final major site of the tour. Overnight at WildSumaco Lodge.

Days 15 – 16 (16th – 17th November): Wild Sumaco. WildSumaco is a famous lodge and reserve just above 1000 m. elevation – right in the transition zone between lowlands and Andes. We’ll spend two days here, hoping for more great butterflies including some elegant swallowtails, surprising skippers, and maybe some rare Andean hairstreaks. Special targets include the unusual Prepona praeneste and Heliconius hierax – a species I’ve seen nowhere else in the world! If it rains, we can also enjoy the hummingbirds right off the balcony while catching up on our identifications from the previous two weeks. Overnight at WildSumaco Lodge.

Day 17 (18th November): Up to the tree line. We’ll continue our journey uphill today; again it’s only a short drive so we can spend several hours butterflying along the way. There are lots of choices anywhere from 1000 to 3000 m. elevation, so where we stop will depend on where we’re still missing species by now, and where the weather looks good! In the afternoon, we’ll check into the wonderful Termas de Papallacta hotel for the final night of the trip – and maybe enjoy the hot springs right outside our bedrooms before supper.

Day 18 (19th November): Farewell Ecuador. Papallacta is just over an hour from the airport, so we’ll spend the morning here – butterflying if the weather allows. At the elevation – right at the treeline at 3500 m. – it’s usually cloudy, but if the sun comes out we can expect some very usual satyrs, and perhaps some Andean Vanessa species. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to the airport; exact timing depends on the group’s international flights; lunch included as the final meal of the tour.

New holiday for 2019 so testimonials will follow later

New holiday for 2019 so report will follow later