Ecuador is home to a dizzying variety of habitats. From the snow-capped Andean highlands to the lush rainforests of the Amazon, this small country has it all. Join us in this equatorial paradise for a seven-day journey full of adventure, photography, and learning in some of the wildest corners of the planet. With the help of expert wildlife biologists and award-winning wildlife photographers, you'll enjoy a tropical expedition like no other.
Our first destination is the stunning Yasuni National Park. The nearly 4,000 kinds of plants documented within its boundaries provide habitat for one out of every three Amazonian reptile and bird species, and nearly as many amphibians and mammals. Out of every 10 Amazonian fish, at least two swim in its streams and rivers. All of this biological diversity sits in an area that comprises less than one-fifth of one percent of the entire Amazon rainforest.
Then, we’ll head for the mountains to explore the cloud forests of Mindo. Here is where two of the most biologically diverse regions of the world meet: the Chocoan lowlands and the Tropical Andes. An area only slightly larger than 100 square miles, with elevations ranging from 300 to 12,000 feet above sea level, Mindo is home to three rivers and hundreds of streams. As a result of this unique confluence of habitats, the area is home to a dizzying array of wild creatures found here and nowhere else. It’s a frog paradise!
Whether you're interested in birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, or mammals, you'll see and hear critters you didn't even know existed! You’ll learn what life is like as a tropical biologist, experience a living lesson on the realities of conservation, visit with a local indigenous community, and enjoy guidance on capturing the best that Ecuador has to offer from behind your camera’s viewfinder.
Note: If you're interested, we also offer a Galapagos photo expedition from October 20–26, 2019. Click here for more information: Photography in the Field: Expedition Galápagos.
This trip is designed for those with a serious interest in wildlife photography, no matter your level of experience. Those who are not interested in photography will have an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience as well, but please note that our pace and our itinerary will be dictated by photographic opportunities.
We encourage you to use whatever gear you are most comfortable with, even if that’s just your smartphone camera! However, to get the most out of this workshop, we recommend a DSLR or mirrorless camera with at least one telephoto lens (such as 70-200mm, 100-400mm, or 75-300mm). A macro lens with a flash and a softbox will be helpful for nighttime photography. You may also bring a small tripod or monopod. Your guides will have a variety of lenses and flashes you may take for a spin as well, all suitable for Canon mounts. A rain-shell for your camera may be useful, especially for evening treks in Mindo, which may have us wading through fast-flowing streams in the rain. Don’t forget extra batteries, chargers, memory cards, and lens wipes.
If you purchase, rent, or borrow new camera gear just for this trip, we encourage you to spend time using it before leaving for Ecuador, so you can become familiar with its basic operation. You don't want to miss precious and spectacular moments busy messing with your camera settings!
We recommend you have a medium fitness level to fully participate in this trip. Be prepared to walk three to five miles per day through thick, muddy jungle terrain. Keep in mind this will be much more taxing than five miles of flat pavement. Please contact us directly if you have further questions about health and fitness level for this trip.
Space at these remote lodges is limited, which means you will be sharing a room with one or two fellow travelers. For this trip, we cannot offer a single accommodation option aside from your night at the hotel in Quito.
The International Ecotourism Society has formally defined ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” In other words, it is an effort to combine sustainable travel with ecosystem-level conservation and the explicit recognition of and respect for the rights of indigenous people. That’s why ecotourism is more than just “nature tourism." It has the explicit goal of benefiting local communities both environmentally and economically. By providing financial incentives through tourism, these communities can become empowered to fight against poverty, and by achieving more sustainable economic development, can better resist other, more exploitative industries such as mining, agriculture, ranching, or logging. Ecotourism has also motivated the traditional tourism industry in general to move toward more “green” or sustainable practices.
All you need to enter and depart Ecuador is a valid passport with evidence of return or onward travel. With a U.S. passport, you will automatically receive a free 90-day tourist visa. For more information, see the State Department’s Ecuador travel page.