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!
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.