Just a little over a year since my first birding trip to Ecuador, my friend Terri (who you may remember
from the 2002 China and 2004 Trinidad trips) and I spent the 2008 Christmas holiday there on a
self-organized trip. This time, Delta did pretty good on the way out (even kicking me up to first class), but a hassle getting home at
the end. Other than that, however, another excellent trip and a total of 383 birds (including 30 new lifers for me).
We were met at the airport late at night by Jose from San Jorge Eco-Lodges, who patiently waited while we worked through the customs line to get in the country,
and then drove us the short distance to San Jorge Quito, minutes from the airport but a world away from the city. The next morning after an excellent breakfast, we met Dr. Jorge Cruz,
who would be our birding guide for the next week, and along with his wife, Irina, would become friends as he introduced us to the birds, trees, and other fascinating aspects of his home.
During our visit, we stayed at their delightful lodges in Quito, Tandayapa, and Milpe. The new lodge in Tandayapa involves a bit of an uphill hike, but has great
views of the valley below and is full of hummingbirds and other cloud forest birds. We were fortunate to
be the very first overnight guests and had a most enjoyable visit. Irina is a fabulous cook (you must try
her 'Sopa del Colibri') and we were glad she came along with us. Their lodge at Milpe was my favorite, however.
Very comfortable, great birds,fabulous trails to multiple waterfalls, and of course, more of Irina's excellent food.
On Christmas Day, we traveled on to Banos, where we met a friend working at the recently rumbling
Tungurahua Volcano Observatory. Due to all the activity, things were getting a little busy at the observatory, so we next spent a night in the nearby town of Banos
at El Marques Posada before heading
in a loop back to Quito via Misahualli and Papallacta Pass. One more night and it was off by plane and motor canoe back to Sacha Lodge to celebrate the New Year and more fabulous birding, led
this time by the extraordinary resident guide, Oscar Tapuay. Then it was back to Quito for some souvenir shopping, a visit to the orchids at the Botanical Garden in Carolinas Park and to Old Town, staying at the Hotel Sebastian, before winging it home.
So here's some of the pictures (and a couple of short videos indicated by the graphic) from the trip. Some are a little fuzzy, dark, and/or out of focus, but so it goes.
Click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger view of any of the pictures in a new window.