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Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Chanhassen...
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Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

We're booked in August for the Gate 1 bus tour that includes Quito, Cabanas del Lago, Termas de Papallecta, Casa del Suizo, and Hacienda Manteles.

We've normally traveled on our own, but this seemed like a good deal and easy way to get a taste of Equador.

There are a lot of posts on this specific tour, but I'm hoping that I can get a response from a fellow birder that's taken it - just how much birding/photography can I expect to squeeze out of the free times on this tour?

We also are in Quito an entire day at the end - with a "late evening" departure from the hotel. Trying to decide best (and cheapest) way to get to Mindo area weighing time spent in travel vs. time spent birding. Would love to get to the feeders at the Tandayapa Lodge, but am I better off going with a closer destination only - like Yanachoca Reserve and/or a closer lodge with feeders?

Thanks.

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Cheap might not be the result, but you might hire a bird guide to maximize your spare day. I am going for a month leaving next weekend and part of that time is with a bird guide from Mindo. Julia Patino. She comes well reputed. She is meeting me in Quito and we will bird the Nono road visiting several reserves and ending in Mindo. She might be willing to do a day trip from Quito like this. You might save some hiring a private car to take you to Yanachoca, but it might be worth checking her prices for the efficiency and expertise. A one day trip to Mindo and back is most likely not worth the hassle otherwise. There is also a birding lodge just west of Quito to consider if they do one overnights. Do read the reviews here however. Some find it just a bit too 'enterprising'. Hacienda San Jorge, I think - the Magical Birding Circuit.

Accommodation - once off of the 'name brand' hotels, accommodation is fairly inexpensive in Ecuador. There are places that are closer to the remote reserves that are bird centric, but pricey. Mindo itself has several lodgings with feeders, trails and very inexpensive as bed and breakfasts and cabins and you can walk into town for meals. Birding in Ecuador looks to be affordable if you do your research with the main expenses going to the guide, and don't mind local transport which is very inexpensive. I travel solo which is often an expensive enterprise, but with research I traded accommodation costs for the guided birding experiences.

Given the pace and distances covered in a Gate 1 tour, I don't know how you can carve out much birding time.

Chanhassen...
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2. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Thanks for the info. Accommodation isn't my issue, since it's all included in the tour. Mostly hoping a birder that's been on the tour might let me know how they fared getting out while at these locations. Whether there's time before breakfasts, ways to skip non-birding activities to free up some time, things like that.

We have only a day free, so not looking for a stay in Mindo - even though that would be great. I've got info from the San Jorge people - looks like they have 3 resorts - with the closest one mentioned by you. I think they have feeders there, so I will consider them, but will be looking for more info from people that have been there. My ability to cut costs to spend on guides went away when we booked a tour, so I'm trying to keep the remaining costs down. I've got time to check out alternatives, but suspect you're right that it won't be all that cheap. You make a good point that traveling all the way to Mingo won't leave much room for inefficiency during the remaining birding time, so a good guide might maximize that. I'm still struggling with whether it's could ever be efficient enough or if I should bird closer to Quito.

Thanks.

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Part of the extra info was to show that should you go back to Ecuador, you can arrange more affordable birding. I agree that sticking closer to Quito makes most sense. Getting around takes too much time unless you have a private car and driver..which is where Julia might come in.

I will have a few days in Quito at different times, and will be looking out for birding ops there as well. maybe the botanical gardens in Parque Carolina. If anything looks interesting, I will post when I get back.

I read a number of birding reports from various trip report sites like Fat Bird. I jotted down locations and then checked them on maps. Also, check BirdingPal.org. Imthink there are a couple of folks lised there for Quito.

Tucson, Arizona
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4. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Frozen, there are enough reports about the Gate 1 tours here that you should be able to determine how much down time you'll have. For an avid birder it would be a shame not to take advantage of all Ecuador has to offer.

QM, Parque Metropolitano would be a better bet for birding than Carolina. The Botanical Gardens would be splendid.

Ottawa, Canada
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5. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Thanks AZ. I guess I got the wrong park. Thanks.

Chanhassen...
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6. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

A follow-up on this thread in the small chance that someone else is interested in the birds you're likely to see during the Gate 1 tour to Ecuador.

We went on the trip in Aug, 2014. Note we did not include the Galapagos extension on our trip.

I've written a birding-specific trip report here:

www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=292339

Pretty sure that link is open to everyone. It has a Word and PDF file that describes birding at each of the Gate 1 locations and includes Flickr links to photos of the birds and general photos during the trip - those might be of more general interest.

The Gate 1 tour was well done for a whirlwind tour of many different locations. Accommodations were very nice at each stop. The value provided is very good.

Hope someone finds this helpful.

Tucson, Arizona
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7. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

Thanks so much for coming back and posting an update. Despite the hectic pace of the tour you still managed to see some great birds. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your detailed report and being reminded of all the fantastic birds, even the common ones. The Rufous-collared Sparrows' song is etched on my brain forever!

I'm going to figure out a way to include your report in the Top Questions for future reference.

8. Re: Birding on a Gate 1 tour?

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