Dates & Prices
Dates: September 2022 (dates TBA)
Price: £TBA Places available
Single Room Supplement: £TBA
Deposit: £400 per person
Price Includes: All meals, accommodation, ground transport, services of guides & holiday report
Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items
Conservation Donation: Butterfly Conservation
Group Size: Minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 guests
Grade: Gentle and very slow pace, perfect for photography
- A 3 centre tour covering both east & west Andes, to provide maximum amount of butterfly diversity
- Ecuador has over 1500 butterfly species 4000 species of butterfly, an astonishing level of diversity for such a small country!
- Special species are too many to list but Expect to see dozens of genera, including Marpesia daggerwings, Adelpha sisters, Parides cattlehearts, Heraclidess swallowtails, Caligo owl butterflies, huge dazzling blue Morpho butterflies, colourful Callicore numberwings, Diaethria “88” butterflies, Doxocopa emperors, Memphis and Hypna leafwings, metalmarks, including Rhetus, Caria, Ancyluris etc, and a fabulous variety of glasswings, hairstreaks, satyrs, sulphurs and tropical skippers.
An exciting butterfly photography holiday in Ecuador!
Ecuador has over 4000 species of butterfly, an astonishing level of diversity for such a small country. On this relaxed tour we explore the beautiful cloud forests on both sides of the Andes – home to a fantastic diversity of butterfly species, moths of every shape and colour imaginable, and enough grasshoppers, dragonflies, damselflies, bugs and beetles to enthuse any naturalist. It’s also home to several stunning hummingbird species, numerous reptiles and amphibians, and of course the spectacled bear which we have seen at close range on previous visits.
If you want to accumulate a vast species list and have butterflies identified in situ, this probably isn’t the tour for you, but if you want the freedom to explore the trails on your own, maximising your photographic opportunities, look no further!
Expect to see dozens of genera, including Marpesia daggerwings, Adelpha sisters, Parides cattlehearts, Heraclidess swallowtails, Caligo owl butterflies, huge dazzling blue Morpho butterflies, colourful Callicore numberwings, Diaethria “88” butterflies, Doxocopa emperors, Memphis and Hypna leafwings, metalmarks, including Rhetus, Caria, Ancyluris etc, and a fabulous variety of glasswings, hairstreaks, satyrs, sulphurs and tropical skippers.
On arrival at Quito we are met and transferred for one night in a city hotel (please note that meals at Quito are not included in the tour cost). Early the next morning we depart for a 3 hour drive to our first lodge Wild Sumaco, set on a ridge in the eastern Andes. At an elevation of 1400m, it has panoramic views reaching across the Rio Pucuno valley. The lodge has an extensive system of trails leading into the surrounding forest, some very easy, others quite steep, providing us with ample opportunities for butterfly photography. Individuals are strongly encouraged to explore the trails entirely at their own pace, which for butterfly photography is much more productive than being shepherded about in a group. We have 4 nights here, in comfortable cabins with en suite toilets and hot showers. The restaurant provides provides 3 delicious meals each day. In the evenings a wonderful variety of moths of every size, shape and colour imaginable, are attracted to the windows of the lodge. The deck outside provides beautiful views across the cloud forest, and a comfortable place to sit and relax, while watching several species of hummingbird that visit the feeders there.
A drive of about 3 hours takes us to our next lodge, San Isidro. Nestled in the picturesque Quijos Valley, one of the westernmost headwaters of the Amazon basin, San Isidro lies at an elevation of about 2000m above sea level. The private reserve consists of a variety of habitat zones typical of the region, including some of the most beautiful, accessible, and well preserved montane humid forest in Ecuador. The trails here are mostly narrow, moderately steep but easily manageable by anyone reasonably fit and active. Again, individuals are encouraged to explore the trails entirely at their own pace, photographing the many butterfly species that occur here, in particular a wonderful variety of satyrs, glasswings and skippers. San Isidro is also a great place to see and photograph hummingbirds, and insects including hawkmoths, giant silkmoths, mantises and stick insects. Accommodation is full board, in single rooms with en suite facilities.
After reluctantly dragging ourselves away from San Isidro, we head next, armed with box lunches, over to the western slopes of the Andes. Here we stay for 3 nights at the rustic but comfortable Maquipucuna Lodge, beautifully situated beside a small river among the cloud forests near Mindo. On previous visits to Maquipicuna, tour groups have often seen spectacled bears, sloths, squirrels, coatis and other fascinating mammals. While at Maquipucuna we also have the option of taking day excursions to other reserves on the western slope. Trails here are fairly easy, well maintained but sometimes wet, but rubber boots are provided. The wooden chalets are very comfortable and have en suite toilet and showers.
A typical day
Please note that this tour is aimed specifically at butterfly photographers who wish to explore the trails alone or in pairs, rather than to be shepherded in a group. Your guide will not therefore be identifying butterflies in the field. Instead, in the evenings, we gather together in the lounge at each lodge, with our laptops and cameras, at which time those who wish to have their photographs identified have the opportunity to do so, although many prefer to wait until they get home and have the pleasure of identifying their photographs at home, using books or one of the excellent websites available, such as butterfliesofamerica.com.
We generally have breakfast at about 07:00am, after which individuals are encouraged to wander the trails at their leisure, alone or in pairs. Trail maps are usually available, and the layout of the trail system, and the location of particular butterfly hotspots will be explained before you set off. On most days we return to the lodge for lunch, although there may be one or two days where we stay out all day and have packed lunches. Typically butterfly activity begins at about 8am, peaks in mid-morning when it’s usually sunny and warm, and slowly fizzles out at around 3-4pm when clouds roll in prior to late afternoon or evening rain showers.
Overnight cloud and light drizzle provides ideal conditions for the hundreds of species of moths that are attracted to lights at the lodges. On dry evenings it’s often possible to explore the trails by torchlight, accompanied by local guides, to see frogs, snakes and other nocturnal wildlife. We generally have dinner at about 7.30pm, and then have the opportunity to chat, relax with a drink and go though our photographs and species lists.
This tour is designed for those who wish to observe and photograph butterflies in their wild habitats. Netting or collecting of specimens is strictly prohibited. This trip includes some steep and sometimes slippery trails. It should be well within the capabilities of anyone reasonably fit and active, but if you have any doubts about your suitability to participate, please discuss with Greenwings prior to booking. As with all tropical tours, you’ll encounter biting insects, and the heat and humidity can sometimes be oppressive. Snakes, spiders and other potentially dangerous creatures may be encountered – it’s extremely rare for anyone to come to harm, but you need to be aware and willing to take the risk if you join this tour.
Day 1 (8th September): Arrival in Quito and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 (9th September): Drive to San Isidro, stops on the way, afternoon arrival and overnight at San Isidro.
Day 3 (10th September): All day at San Isidro. Overnight San Isidro.
Day 4 (11th September): All day at Loreto Rd. Overnight San Isidro.
Day 5 (12th September): All day along Guacamayos Ridge and San Isidro trails. Overnight San Isidro.
Day 6 (13th September): 7:00 am pick up and drive to Wildsumaco with packed lunch and stops along the way. Overnight Wildsumaco.
Day 7, 8 & 9 (14th – 16th September): All day at Wildsumaco. Overnights at Wildsumaco.
Day 10 (17th September): Morning drive to Mindo. Stops and packed lunch in the field. Overnight at Maquipucuna.
Day 11 (18th September): All day at Mindo and its surroundings. Overnight at Maquipucuna.
Day 12 (19th September): All day at Milpe/Silanche and its surroundings. Overnight at Maquipucuna.
Day 13 (20th September): Morning visit to Angel Paz, followed by an afternoon return to Quito and drop off at airport for departures.
This is new holiday for 2020 so testimonials will follow later
This is new holiday for 2020 so the report will follow later