Ecuador and its Amazon basin is an entomologist's dream!. Butterflies of staggering beauty flash by; and while you think you may have seen one species before, you probably just saw its mimic. Over 850 species of butterflies have been recorded in the Ecuadorian Amazon alone and there are more to be named. Maybe you will find one. The cloudforests near Mindo are another great playground for lepidoptery fans with possibilities to spot the exotic Morpho and other fine specimens.
International flight and transfer in to San Jorge Ecolodge just 20 min. from the Quito airport.
Enjoy a full day of birdwatching with early morning outings at the 200 acre private San Jorge Botanical reserve located just outside of Quito. Enjoy virgin nature and Ecuadorian tradition at our 18 th Century Ecuadorian Hosteria while you explore the many butterfly possibilities that the surroundings of Quito has to offer. We will overnight at San Jorge Ecolodge, after birdwatching and enjoying the nature trails we can wind down at the spa.
Today we head out early towards the Tandayapa valley. Tandayapa is found in the upper Choco Endemic Bird Area (EBA) of northwest Ecuador. We will explore trails in the area searching for butterflies and continue following the slopes of the Andes which are dressed with a wonderful dense ecosystem: the Cloud Forest. This ecosystem, also called "Andean eyebrow" due to its generous vegetation, is one of the most diverse in the world.
This system that appears in very irregular terrain is characterised by a non-continuous canopy cover, enabling the sun rays to penetrate and generate exuberant and unique vegetation forms. This area has become a refugee for many species that can be observed in their wild state. The area is also home to some 350 bird species.
Upon arrival in Mindo we will visit the Mindo Butterfly Farm, this facility gives you the chance to observe the whole process of metamorphosis, from egg to larvae to pupa and finally adult imago. Here the larvae stage or caterpillars are displayed. Pupae of all the species are hung up and the adult or the proper butterfly emerge from here and are then transferred to the flying area. Sometimes the birth of an adult can be observed like when a morpho butterfly emerges from its cocoon.
There are more than 25 species of butterflies within the farm and more in the surrounding forest, all are local ones occurring in the surrounding cloudforest region of Mindo Protected Forest Reserve. The largest species in the area are the Caligo Butterflies. You can also raised find the Monarch butterflies famous for their long migrations.
After a full day of exploration we return to San Jorge Ecolodge in Quito.
Today we fly into the Amazon rainforest basin. Upon arrival of our 30 min. flight we will transfer to the docks. Here we will pause for a snack and to use the rest rooms before boarding our covered motorized canoe for a 2-hour, 50-mile (80-kilometer) trip down the sediment-rich waters of the Napo, the largest river in Ecuadorian Amazonia.
During the ride it is easy to spot handsome shore birds such as herons, kingfishers, spoonbills and ospreys between the scattered native huts as you travel steadily away from civilization. Upon arrival to our Amazon Lodge's 5000-acre (2000-hectare) private reserve, our guests will take their first walk along a raised boardwalk through dense flooded palm forest where several species of monkeys are often sighted.
Our Amazon Lodge is home to one of the largest butterfly farms in Ecuador. Designed as a live exhibition conservatory, the Butterfly House is now successfully breeding nearly 40 local butterfly species! Guests will be shown how these beautiful insects are bred and raised, and later be free to wander through “the flying room”, where hundreds of colorful butterflies flutter from flower to flower. Transparent glass-wing butterflies, spectacular blue morphs, striking tiger longwings, bright yellow swallowtails and giant nocturnal owl butterflies are only a few of the species you'll encounter here, up close and personal.
We will aslo hike several trails in the rainforest in search of wildlife as we enjoy the sounds of the forest under the dark canopy. Every day brings surprise encounters along narrow forest trails. Evasive wood-nymphs often flit along the path in front of you, while morphos patrol sunny glades, and damselflies hover and swirl. Photographers will have hourly opportunities to capture the beauty of tropical Ecuador.
We will spend 3 nights at our Amazon lodge.
Transfer out for your international flight. You also have the option to extend your trip and take a Galapagos cruise trip or a botanical tour of the Choco rainforest.
The above is a sample itinerary prepared for a butterfly club. It can be customized to fit the needs and special interests of your travellers.