Ecuador Photo Tour: Ecuador - Birds of Paradise, Exotic Bird Photography Tour

Tour Intro

Sponsored by Houston Audubon Society.

Welcome to a land of endless discovery… Visiting Ecuador is finding a paradise full of wonder and astonishing natural attractions. Ecuador has it all, with its snow-capped volcanoes, plunging valleys, majestic mountains, breathtaking gardens, green valleys bathed by cascading waterfalls, beautiful colonial architecture, monasteries, Indian markets, and little villages lost in the Andes.

Ecuador’s attractiveness springs from the fact that over 1,500 species of birds have been recorded in this tiny country. The country is rapidly becoming a prime destination for photographers and naturalists because the land is being wisely protected with a system of national parks and private reserves. The comfortable lodges in the midst of our photographic locations allow us to relax and enjoy Ecuador. You will see why Ecuador is a growing world-class destination.

Your Tour Leaders

Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing fifteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work is seen each week in the “Nature” column in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News, written by her husband, Gary Clark.

A lifelong naturalist, Gary Clark has studied birds, mammals, and butterflies in North, Central, and South America and in East Africa. He is an award winning professional writer whose column “Nature” appears weekly in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News. He has authored feature articles in state and national magazines and has written six books that include photographs from his wife, Kathy. He frequently conducts birding workshops and leads birding tours. He is founder of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Texas, former president of the Houston Audubon Society, and former vice-president of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Gary is a full professor at Lone Star College.

Kathy enjoys traveling with people new to photography as well as with folks with advanced skills. She has an ability to explain complicated photographic terms in an easily understood language. She likes to teach those hungry for new information, but also understands that photography can be a solitary task. Each person traveling with Kathy is treated as an individual, but the group always has fun. She is skilled in all makes of digital cameras.   www.kathyadamsclark.com

Tour Highlights

  • A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Houston Audubon Society to support their programs.
  • Travel with an Ecuadorian naturalist/birder, Naturalist Gary Clark, and Photo Leader, Kathy Adams Clark.
  • Visit Mindo Valley, tropical lowlands, and high Andes for a chance to see a wide array of hummingbirds, tropical birds, and the majestic Andean Condors.
  • Accommodations at Septimo Paraiso, a well-known destination for their onsite hummingbird feeders and on-site bird photography.
  • Two nights in the Papallacta area, the eastern slope of the Andes, offering some of the most exciting birding in the country.
  • Visits to the Antisana, Yanacocha, and Alambi Nature Reserves, photograph their wealth of diversity.

Tour Itinerary

March 8: Home - Quito, Ecuador
Leaf

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Ecuador

Flights from the U.S. arrive in Quito this evening, where there will be a group transport time to our accommodations, in the heart of Quito. Overnight Casa Aliso (meal aloft)

March 9-10: Papallacta Area
White Bellied Woodstar

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Ecuador

Today we will begin our exploration of the eastern slope of the Andes, travelling through the Papallacta Pass. This habitat holds a wonderful array of birds, including such species as the Giant Hummingbird, Andean condor, Andean Gull, and Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe. Our travels will take us above the timberline and paramo, down into the humid temperate forest, photographing different species as we go. Our resort is perched on a high Andean valley at the entrance route to the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, the spa - resort offers its visitors warm thermal baths, gorgeous gardens, walking trails, and a relaxed atmosphere.

We will take a trip the next day to Guango Lodge to photograph hummingbirds such as the four inch long Sword-billed hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, and Long-tailed Sylph. Garden birds of particular interest include the Turquoise Jay and Glossy Flowerpiercers. Surrounding grounds are home to Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Buff-breasted and Hooded Mountain-Tanagers, Grey-hooded Bush-Tanager, and Slaty Brush-Finch. We will enjoy lunch while photographing and once again we will use our multi-flash set-up. Overnight Termas de Papallacta (B; B, L)

March 11-12: Antisana Ecological Reserve - Quito
Jungle

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Ecuador

We will have a leisurely start this morning, followed by photography at the Antisana Ecological Reserve. Giving us an opportunity to view a unique landscape that gradually turns into forest. In this reservation we find the Antisana Volcano as a backdrop, with its indescribable beauty. Antisana gives us one more opportunity to photograph the Andean condor as well as the Carunculated Caracara, Andean Hillstar Hummingbird, and Stout-billed

Cinclodes. The reserve, created in July of 1993, is located on the edge of the Amazon prairie and it is considered as a corridor or nexus between the Ecological Reserve of Cayambe-coca and the Sumaco Napo Galeras National Park. Return to Quito later today.

The next day enjoy a leisurely morning at the hotel. You will then enjoy lunch, followed by a Quito city tour, the Capital City of Ecuador, taking time to photograph the rich colonial architecture. Overnight Casa Aliso  (B, L both days)

March 13-15: Mindo Lomo - Yanacocha - Alambi Reserves
Market Goods

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Ecuador

Enjoy photographing the many ecological reserves on the western slope of the Andes for the next three evenings. Depart Quito and make your way to the Yanacocha Reserve, enjoy lunch in the lovely village of Nono.

Your next two days will be filled with photographing hummingbirds such as the Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Booted racket-tail, and White-necked Jacobin using a multi-flash set-up. We will also photograph hummingbirds at the many feeders around the grounds. Early in the morning many birds come to feed on the insects that are attracted to the lights on the walls during the night: Streak-capped Treehunter, Tricolored and White-winged Brush-Finches, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Slat-throated Whitestart, White-winged Becard, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Three-striped Warbler are among the regular visitors. Mixed flocks of tanagers often pass through, stopping to feed on fruiting bushes at the right time of year and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers, White-winged Brush-Finches, and Red-headed Barbets come to eat the fruit put out for them outside the lounge windows sometimes bringing Crimson-rumped Toucanets with them.

We will have time to explore the varied trails at our own lodge for one day, allowing us time to photograph as a group, or wander on our own. Our birding guide will walk with those interested in photographing forest dwelling birds such as Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Moustached, Scaled, and Ochre-breasted Antpittas, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, and White-throated Quail-Dove. The next day you will photograph at Alambi Reserve and at Tandayapa Lodge. Each destination has been selected to maximize photographic and birding opportunities. Overnight Septimo Paraiso (B, L, D three days)

March 16-17: Quito – Home

Photo Leader

Kathy Adams Clark
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Kathy Adams Clark

Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing thirteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work may be viewed weekly in the Houston Chronicle's “Wonders of Nature” column, written by her husband, Gary.

Kathy enjoys traveling with people new to photography as well as with folks with advanced skills. She has an ability to explain complicated photographic terms in easy-to-understand language. She likes to teach those hungry for new information but also understands that photography can be a solitary task. Each person traveling with Kathy is treated as an individual, but the group always has fun.

Kathy is an accomplished naturalist as well as a photographer, skilled in 35mm film and digital cameras. She is very passionate about nature, birdlife, and wildlife. Gary Clark who is an acclaimed naturalist guide in his own right will co-lead some trips each year with her.

A lifelong naturalist, Gary Clark has studied birds, mammals, and butterflies in North, Central, and South America and in East Africa.  He is an award winning professional writer whose column “Nature” appears weekly in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News.  He has authored feature articles in state and national magazines and has written six books that include photographs from his wife, Kathy.  He frequently conducts birding workshops and leads birding tours.  He is founder of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Texas, former president of the Houston Audubon Society, and former vice-president of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.  Gary is a full professor at Lone Star College.

Because of both Kathy & Gary's love of nature, and the work they do, Strabo Tours is proud to make a donation to the Houston Audubon Society for each trip they take part in.

This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was challenging myself to learn all sorts of new things, photography, a new culture, and was immersed in it. It surpassed my expectations and I met so many beautiful souls along the way. Kathy was fantastic, I give her a 10++!!!

D. Whitney

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 7 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $500 if 5-6 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

I learned a lot of new things about photography and details of better camera use that I will put into practice. We were very pleased with the trip, the guides, the drivers, the food, and the accommodations.

D. Lund

Additional Notes

Fitness & Health
The trip will not be strenuous, but there will be walks each day, sometimes uphill in the heat, mud, & high altitude (9000 feet). Anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to participate in all scheduled walks, but if you have questions about how much activity is involved, please inquire further.

At present, no inoculations are required for entry from the United States.

Food is generally safe to eat everywhere in the country. Water is not safe to drink in through out the country, be sure to drink only bottled water. Your local guide can offer guidance if you have concerns. Although malaria has probably been eradicated from areas we'll be visiting, you should consult your doctor about precautionary measures. Full details will be sent upon enrollment.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

Accommodations are clean, comfortable and pleasant, but not luxurious. When visiting parks and reserves, expect cabin-like accommodations with private baths.

Food & Drink

Ecuadorian food is not spicy. Menus are usually simple, but the food is always good and plentiful. Breakfast menus are much like those in North America. Rice, meat, beans, and vegetables are usually served at lunch and dinners. Delicious fruits and juices are in abundant supply.

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