Bird photography at its best

Two Neurologists take away the headache of travel photography

Ecuadorian Hummingbirds

  • October 1 to October 10, 2021
  • At the northwest Pichincha region and around Quito.
  • Minimize changing of hotel locations.
  • Minimal travel time in a comfortable bus.
  • Ample time for photographing birds. 
  • Short, easy walking excursions.
  • Incredible diversity (Up to 37 different species of hummingbirds in this tour)
  • Scouting of birds by local guide.
  •  Multi-flash photography instruction with two different set-ups.
  • Teaching also includes conventional techniques using natural light and fill-in flash.
  • Novice and seasoned photographers, are all welcome.
  • Lodging and food are included.
  • Only 8 participants (minimal 4 to run the course)


Friday, October 1, 2021

Arrive in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It is the second-highest official capital city in the world at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters) above sea level. It's also the closest city to the equator.

Our driver will meet you at the airport & bring you to your comfortable, double-occupancy room. We are staying very close to the airport in the town of Puembo in a lovely restored old hacienda

Please plan to arrive by 3:00 pm if possible ,so that you'll have a chance to rest up before our 6:00 pm Welcome Dinner. Daniel Zdonczyk and Juan Bahamón, your tour leaders, will lecture about multiflash photography techniques and present an overall tour outline.

Mother nature is, at times, unpredictable, and the itinerary might change due to unsuspected weather conditions or if our local guide (Luis Yanez) spots a better hummingbird density on an alternative location.


Saturday October 2, 2021

After a typical Ecuadorian breakfast, we’ll depart Su Merced to the Yanacocha Reserve. This reserve sits on the northeastern slope of the Guagua Pichincha Volcano.

Situated at 10,500 feet in the cloud forest, this spot is world-famous for its unique hummingbirds, many species of which are found only in these high elevations. Yanacocha is the highest elevation we will reach on this tour.

Sword-billed Hummingbirds should be star of the show at this reserve. These birds are the only species in the world with bills longer than their bodies! Their bills & super-long tongues allow them to feed on & pollinate the gorgeous Passiflora mixta (common name in Ecuador: Taxo). We will also photograph the: Shining Sunbeams, Great Sapphirewings, Buff-winged Starfrontlets, and Sapphire-vented Pufflegs.

Please see the gallery page for more photographed examples.

Lunch will be provided.

After a full day, we will return to Su Merced for dinner.

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

We will get up early, and after breakfast, we will head towards Papallacta Pass to reach Guango Lodge by 9 AM. We have reserved this magical place just for us. Two multiflash setups will allow photographing the Sword-bill hummingbird again. Other readily available species are: Tourmaline Sunangel, Collared Inca, Tyrian Metaltail, Golden-breasted, Glowing Puffleg, Mountain Avocetbill, White-bellied and Gorgeted Woodstars.

Lunch at Guango followed by an afternoon session. Depart to Su Merced for dinner.  An optional image critique session, or an elective photoshop instructional lecture will be available.

Monday, October 4, 2021

After an early breakfast, we will head towards Tambo Condor, a breathtaking place up at the Antisana Volcano. At this magical place, we will photograph the Giant Hummingbird what he doesn't have in color, and it has in size, grace, bold, and vigor. His particular flight patterns are unusual, such as a lower wing beat and glides as a swift. He prefers to cling to the flowers rather than hover. It is also aggressive against other hummingbirds, but curiously he shares the flower patches with other giant hummingbirds.

Other hummingbirds include the Sparkling Violetear and the Black-tailed trainbearer.

Lunch at Tambo Condor, and we will head to Zuro Loma. Many birds will be whizzing about, taking full advantage of the many fruits and nectar-feeding stations, including flowerpiercers, brushfinches, Sword-billed Hummingbirds, Mountain Velvetbreasts, Buff-winged Starfrontlets, Sapphire-vented Pufflegs, Collared Incas, and Tyrian Metaltails, to name just a few.

The highlight is to hold a miniature feeder and to have tiny hummingbirds bravely perch on your finger to steal a sip of sweet nectar! A close-up portrait will be memorable.

After Dinner (if you are not tired), Juan Bahamón has an entirely optional "Hummingbirds of the Americas." lecture.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

After an early breakfast, we will take a two-hour trip to the Northwest of the Pichincha province, perhaps considered to be the world's richest ornithological region.

We will stay at Sachatamia Lodge, which will provide comfortable double occupancy cabins. There is an indoor pool and jacuzzi for relaxing. The food is excellent.

This day we will visit the feeders at A professionally designed hummingbird photography studio will allow us to try creative macro, silhouettes, and out-of-the-box compositions using the numerous hummingbirds. Species include the fantastic Violet-tailed Sylph, Fawn-breasted brilliant, Booted racket-tail, Green-fronted brilliant, Tawny hermit, Brown Inca. The gardens will provide us all the flowers necessary for our props.

A specially prepared Ecuadorian lunch will replenish our energies before traveling a short distance to the nearby
where the Gorgeted Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, EmpressBrilliant, among others, will give us so many opportunities for memorable pictures.

We can also photograph the beautiful Andean Toucan and use the reflection pool to bring home creative pictures of the colorful tanagers.

After dinner, if you still feel up to, a lecture by Juan Bahamón is optional.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Today will visit two unique sites for hummingbird photography. The group will be divided into two and after lunch will trade places. The first site is at An important Chocó-Andean foothills reserve located in the Birdlife International defined Important Bird Area Los Bancos-Milpe (EC041).

Excellent accommodations for multiflash hummingbird photography and strategically placed perches will allow the participants to practice portraits with natural and fill-in flash. Well concurred feeders are visited by the White-whiskered Hermit, Brown violetear, Green thorntail, Green-crowned Woodnymph, and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird among others.

We will also visit Alambi, where we will have the entire lodge reserved for the day. Mr. Fabian Luna, the owner, has been devoted to maintaining multiple hummingbird feeders for 15 years resulting in a high density of hummingbirds. Regular visitors are: White-necked Jacobin, all three species of Violetear Hummingbirds, the Green-crowned Brilliant, the Purple-throated Woodstar, the Andean Emerald, the Green-crowned Woodnymph, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and the Purple-bibbed Whitetip and many more.

Dinner at Sachatamia Lodge, followed by an optional lecture "Composition in Bird Photography" by Daniel Zdonczyk.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Today we will return to Los Dos Corazones Nature Reserve for another chance at the hummingbird feeders. You will explore the changes created by using different backgrounds and also you will learn to choose the appropriate flowers to match the birds' colors.

We will experiment with hummingbird silhouettes and macros to visualize the minuscule mites living on their beaks and even hummingbird water reflections!

We will practice with photogenic perches for the multiple colorful tanagers and toucanets that are abundant at this place.

After lunch, we will visit a nearby place called "Balcon Tumpique." There we will have the chance to photograph the Green-fronted Lancebill and similar species.

We will return to Satachamia Lodge, and after dinner as always, there will be an optional lecture, "Humans and Hummingbirds."

Friday, October 8, 2021

This morning will stay at the Satachamia lodge and practice more multiflash techniques at their specially designed photographic studio. We will have plenty of opportunities to photograph the Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Violet-tailed Sylph, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Brown Inca, Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Velvet-purple Coronet, Booted Racket-tail, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Green-crowned Brilliant, Empress Brilliant, Purple-collared Woodstar, White-bellied Woodstar, Western Emerald, Andean Emerald, and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

Lunch at Sachatamia Lodge, then we will head towards Rancho Suamox, a privately owned farm in the lowlands. The owner has set up both fruit and hummingbird feeders that attract tanagers, woodpeckers, and a couple of different hummingbird species only found in the lowlands. The Dusky-faced, Flame-rumped, and Silver-throated Tanagers, Thick-billed and Orange-bellied Euphonias, can often be seen and photographed at the feeders. The main target will be the Purple-chested Hummingbird.

Will head back to Sachatamia Lodge. After dinner, we can join Daniel for an optional lecture about the use of Dark Table Software.

Saturday, October 9

On this last day, we will concentrate on getting or improving images of the hummingbirds that you might be most interested in. There will be plenty of opportunities at these two sites that has been reserved exclusively for our group.

At Quinde Luna, we will get another opportunity to photograph the mesmerizing Violet-tailed Sylph with its long shimmering tail. The Fawn-breasted Brilliants, also numerous, the Booted racket tails and the Purple Bibbed Hummingbird. Johnny Luna, the owner, is highly accommodating by procuring us with photogenic perches and this in combination with with the natural backgrounds (out-of-focus vegetation) will assure a perfect portrait.

Box lunch provided.

San Tadeo is a beautiful tanager and hummingbird garden owned by Rolando, a local community member. He has worked hard to transform the Northwest of Pichincha into a birding epicenter. There are some fascinating species to be watched here, like the Beryl Spangled Tanager and Black-capped Tanagers.

The hummingbird feeders, located after a short stroll, are also very busy, with up to 16 different species.

We will depart to Quito around 4:00 PM and travel back to Su Merced. This location is conveniently close to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

After a farewell dinner, we will have the opportunity to answer any lingering questions about your course. We will collect feed back forms in order to improve future trips.


Sunday, October 10

Depending on your return flight time, we will give you breakfast and/or lunch and transportation back to the airport.

We sincerely hope that your hard drives and digital cards will be full of thousands of keeper pictures and that your brain carries the memories of a beautiful Ecuadorian experience.

Book Now!

Price of the tour : $ 3999 per person, double occupancy . $4999 for single occupancy.

A maximum of 8 photographers (4 per tour guide ) will be taking part in the tour.

Reservation : $ 750 Non refundable. Full payment due by September 1st 2021.

Contact Juan Bahamon for reservations at or call 361-947-0214

What is included:

  • Bilingual tour leaders.
  • Personalized instruction
  • Welcome dinner on arrival date.
  • Airport transfers in Ecuador.
  • Transportation between lodges and accommodations.
  • Entrance fees to photography sites.
  • Upscale accommodations
  • All meals at the lodges.
  • Tips at the lodges, driver and local guide.
  • Use of multiflash photography equipment
  • We will provide flowers, props and perches.

What is not included:

  • Anything not included in the included list.
  • Extra tips that you want to give to the local workers.
  • Bar tab at the lodges.
  • Hospitalizations (God forbid).
  • Evacuation expenses in case of illness.
  • Air transport to and from Quito.
  • Government fees on passports, airport fees, and the like.
  • Laundry and phone fees of the individual participants.

Book Now!

Please email or call USA 361-947-0214


Daniel Zdonczyk

Tour Leader

Juan Bahamon

Tour Leader

Luis Yanez

Local Guide

Hummingbird list

  1. White-necked Jacobin
  2. Brown Violetear
  3. Speckled Hummingbird
  4. Brown Inca
  5. Buff-tailed Coronet
  6. Velvet-purple Coronet
  7. Booted Racket-tail
  8. Purple-bibbed Whitetip
  9. Fawn-breasted Brilliant
  10. Green-crowned Brilliant
  11. Empress Brilliant
  12. White-bellied Woodstar
  13. Purple-throated Woodstar
  14. Andean Emerald
  15. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  16. Giant Hummingbird
  17. Sword-billed Hummingbird
  18. Collared Inca
  19. White-whiskered Hermit
  20. Tawny-belied Hermit
  21. Green-fronted Lancebill
  22. GreenThorntail
  23. Sparkling Violetear
  24. Purple-chested Hummingbird
  25. Green-crowned Woodnynph
  26. Western Emerald
  27. Ecuadorian Hillstar
  28. Shinning Sunbeam
  29. Great Sapphirewing
  30. Buff-winged Starfrontlet
  31. Violet-tailed Sylph
  32. Glowing Puffleg
  33. Sapphire-vented Puffleg
  34. Golden-breasted Puffleg
  35. Tyrian Metaltail
  36. Gorgeted Sunangel
  37. Tourmaline Sunangel

other birds

  • White-tipped Dove
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Toucan Barbet
  • Crimson-rumped Toucanet
  • Andean Toucan
  • Pale-mandible Aracari
  • Orange-crowned Euphonia
  • Orange-bellied Euphonia
  • Flame-rumped Tanager
  • Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager
  • Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager
  • Blue-gray Tanager
  • Lemon-rumped Tanager
  • Golden-naped Tanager
  • Metallic-green Tanager
  • Flame-faced Tanager
  • Golden Tanager