Rare Andean Mammal Tour
November 1, 2022 - November 11, 2022£828 – £3985
Rare Andean Mammal Tour
In particular for this tour we have decided to explore the high altitude grasslands of the north Ecuadorian Andes (the paramo ecosystem) and the cloud forests of the western slopes. It is here that some of South America’s largest mammals live alongside some of the least seen and understood.
This unique tour starts in the high altitude capital Quito and quickly leaves to the western slopes of the Andes and to a wonderful cloud forest lodge and private reserve called Bellavista. With the help of our expert guides we will explore the reserve grounds and nearby roads by day and night to try and unlock some of the secretive mammals of the cloud forest. This lodge shot to fame a few years ago as being one of the only places in the world where the newly described olinguito regularly visits in the evening / night. It is also a great place for species like western mountain coati and northern oncilla which will also be targeting here.
After a couple of days and nights here searching for mammals we head further into the Andes and focus on the massive and stunningly beautiful Cayambe-Coca National Park. This is the realm of the Andean bear, mountain tapir, Andean fox, northern pudu and very elusive colocolo cat. We will spend our days and nights here, scanning by day and then spotlighting and staking out likely areas by night. This park also offers some of the best views in Ecuador and on a clear day you can see various volcanoes including Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Antisana and Sumaco among others.
We aim to see a good number of our targeted species on this trip and we will certainly put in the time and effort to find them.
Top Animals on Tour
Quito / Bellavista
We recommend everyone arrives in the morning today, if you cannot find a morning flight on this day we recommend arriving the night before (we can recommend and book local hotels in Quito for you). We will collect everyone from the airport or hotels in Quito this morning and then drive the couple of hours or so to the western slope of the Andes and the wonderful little private reserve of Bellavista.
After checking in we will hike around some of their trails, most of the species we will be looking for here are nocturnal or at least crepuscular but we will try and find red-tailed squirrels and maybe a western mountain coati foraging around. But once the sun begins to fall behind the trees and hills the mammals start to come out, we will then spend time at the banana feeding station. It is here that they regularly get visits from kinakajous, Andean white-eared opossums and of course the olinguito. It is around here that during the early mornings you can also sometimes see tayra and western mountain coati.
Then after dinner we will hit the road for some spotlighting around the winding mountain roads surrounding the lodge.
Bellavista Cloud Forest
For the next two full days and nights we will have early morning (pre-dawn) drives around the roads again and hope for northern oncilla (among other species) and then after breakfast we can hike around the various trails here, before staking out the banana station in the evening and then spotlighting after dinner.
This morning will be our last pre-dawn drive and then after breakfast we will depart Bellavista and travel back to Quito. We do not spend long in the city and quickly drive out and towards the Antisana volcano in Cayambe-Coca National Park. The drive will take 3 hours or so and along the way, once we are in the paramo and out of the city, we will stop and scan for bears. There are several bear territories along the highway and we will be looking for the tell-tale signs of bear activity. Our local guide is very knowledgeable about the bears and where they like to forage and with his help we will hopefully see a bear before even getting to our lodge today.
After arriving in Pamballacta we will check in and then (depending on the time) drive in the afternoon up into the paramo and once again scanning for bears as well as mountain tapir. Also around here and possible are Andean rabbits, Andean fox, Andean white-tailed deer and northern pudu. Some are easier to see than others, but we will spend time looking for each species.
Then after dinner back at the lodge we know a location nearby where the little understood stump-tailed porcupine is known from.
Cayambe-Coca National Park
For the next 6 full days and nights we will explore the paramo in greater depth looking for our targeted species here, we also know a few locations a little lower down that we can also explore for the tapir which is more elusive than the bears here. Our local guide has a great reputation with some of the lodges here and often for the cost of a drink at the lodge we can hike their trails or visit their salt licks without having to stay there. So we will be based in one location and close to the paramo but have the option of visiting other locations to increase our chances.
Then at night we will be back in the park with some special equipment to try and find the small predators of the grasslands. Your guides will also be spending the day (as we drive around) looking for likely territories and habitats for animals like long-tailed weasel, skunks and of course the very elusive colocolo. We will return to these areas at night and try and find some of these small predators (the weasel being the exception as it is diurnal).
We will also visit nearby forest reserves in search of various bat species, primates, agoutis and other mammals. We will remain flexible on the day to day order of places visited and species targeted and will make decisions based on weather and recent sightings.
The days will be long and hopefully filled with mammals, as we will stay as late we can do (according to the park rules and our fatigue levels).
Quito / Home
This morning we will depart after breakfast and travel back to the capital and to the airport in time to catch your return flight home. If you cannot get flights for today we can of course arrange a hotel in Quito for you and drop you there instead.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in the Andes can be unpredictable with clear blue skies, cold winds, sunshine, fog and rain all happening within an hour in the mountains.
During November the temperatures will be chilly when overcast and up in the paramo and always expect rain, particularly around the cloud forest. But when the sun is out the temperatures can be in the high 20’s C.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide.
All our excursions including treks, guided walks, canoe trips, canopy towers and park entrance fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be everything from swimming gear to warm cloths and waterproofs. The nights can be chilly so a fleece, long trousers and woolly hat are a good idea. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Insect repellent is needed. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be very strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. A spotlight is usually provided for nocturnal wildlife watching (when local conditions allow) and Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any departure taxes applicable when leaving are not included (but may be included in the cost of your flights), Please check this before hand.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Continental Airline or Delta Air Lines Inc as good airlines for flights to Quito. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for all these flights is www.holidaygenie.com; who are ATOL bonded and IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders are not required to have a visa for Ecuador. However things change so the easiest way to find information is by visiting http://ecuador.embassyhomepage.com/ (be aware that these links leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Ecuador, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis It is however very important to be taking a form of malaria prophylactics during your time in Ecuador. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Ecuador as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Reviews of this Holiday
Mr. Hobbs - San Francisco, USA
Ewan Davies - England, UK
Mr. Nessi - Switzerland
Conor Brent - Collingwood, Victoria
Minoli & Jasreena - California