This week-long journey combines the most biodiverse area of our planet: the Tropical Andes … with our biggest tropical wilderness: the Amazon. Locations will include Ecuador's largest protected wilderness area; an indigenous Amazon wildlife reserve; and one of South America's most successful rainforest corridor projects, from High Andes to lowland Amazon.
Throughout, we will follow expert local trackers in search of wildlife; whilst host, Ralph Pannell, formerly of our partner charity, Rainforest Concern, will help you to see under the skin of Ecuador's ongoing conservation challenges and successes.
In the Tropical Andes, we will explore some of the most pristine forest within the Choco-Andean rainforest conservation corridor. This inspirational project protects an incredible variety of flora and fauna, from land reaching almost 5,000 m at the Cotocachi Volcano, to lowland rainforest on the Pacific coast of Ecuador and Colombia. The corridor is a complex patchwork of national parks, private reserves and community reserves; some of which Ralph was involved in creating for Rainforest Concern. Aqua-Firma has supported Rainforest Concern's efforts here since 2005 and in joining this trip, you will be sponsoring further conservation in this area.
In the Amazon, we will explore Ecuador largest protected area, the Yasuni National Park; and an indigenous-owned 10,000 acre rainforest reserve Ralph first surveyed for primates with a research expedition more than 30 years ago. 13 species of monkey can be found in the forests here, including the world's smallest: the Pygmy Marmoset; and the world's loudest: the Red Howler. Golden Tamarins are particularly attractive monkeys we might see; whilst troops of Squirrel Monkeys and prehensile tail-gripping White Fronted Capuchins travel in troops of several dozen.
Other mammals we can hope to encounter include a type of Amazon wild boar, the Collared Peccary; Two-toed Sloths, Jaguarundis and both Black and Spectacled Caiman. Pumas and Jaguars certainly exist in these forests. Whilst we may find their tracks, we will probably need to review camera trap images for sightings of these stealth hunters.
Of birdlife, we can find up to 550 species in the Amazon forests we will be exploring, of which some of the most iconic are prehistoric-looking Hoatzins and several very colourful species of toucan, macaws, parrots and parakeets. In the cloud forest, we have good chances of seeing Plate-Billed Mountain Toucans; a fantastic variety of hummingbirds; and South America's answer to the New Guinean Bird of Paradise: the Cock of the Rock.
The scenery on this trip is as spectacular in its variety as is its wildlife. In the Choco-Andes we can enjoy vast vistas of steep Andes cloaked in forest. Cloud comes and goes across this landscape; at times burying valleys beneath us to leave islands of forest surrounded by swirling mists. Later in the day, clouds often rise like a dampened cloak - a perfect environment in which orchids, mosses and bromeliads can thrive. With land both above and below us, we can admire the forest from root to the curled canopy of a tree fern, or silver leaves of a fast-growing Cecropia tree.
In the Amazon, our scenery will vary from the wide Rio Napo and serene oxbows lakes, to narrow tributaries and darkened understorey beneath towering buttressed trees. For a wider perspective, we will ascend a canopy tower; and as we fly from Andes to Amazon and back, we have good chances to gazing at the glacial volcanic peaks of Antisana, Cayambe and Cotopaxi.
Accommodation will be in very comfortable en suite community owned cabanas; our payments for which help communities generate sustainable income by preserving forest, rather than exploiting it. All meals, guiding, conservation contributions, Amazon flights, river and land transportation is included.
These journeys have been timed to combine with these special Galapagos departures:
Galapagos Shark Research Insights & Photography Dive Liveaboard
led by Dr Simon Pierce
6 - 13 Sept, 2021
Galapagos Wildlife Marine Life & Photography
hosted by Marine Biologist & Photography, Dr Chris Rohner
30 Aug - 6 Sept, 2022
8 - 15 Aug, 2023
You can also discuss with us, tailor-made travel options in Ecuador, Peru and more widely through Central and South America.