Ecology COURSE


THE DISCOVER EDEN ecology course - Ecuador

10 June to 20 June

COST: $3 400 – US Dollar or €3 150 – Euro

Please note: There are only 16 spaces available in each group, to give you the best experience possible! We work on a first come first served basis, so book early to avoid disappointment!

Complete the application form to register your interest for the Discover Eden Ecology Course in Ecuador.

The Discover Eden Ecuador Ecology is specifically designed for those who are either studying or working in the conservation ecology field. With a wide range of field-based components and two mini-research projects, interspersed with topical theoretical discussions and workshops, this short course gives you the hands-on experience you have been looking for to see what being a biologist is all about. Set in the magnificent biodiverse forests of Ecuador and rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s top conservation experts, this course gives you exposure to an unprecedented range of species within a relatively short space of time.

This activity-packed program in a global biodiversity hotspot addresses topics such as forest ecology and research, reptile biology, carbon sequestration corridors, working with endangered species, animal rehabilitation and care, butterfly farming, habitat restoration, eco-tourism, community conservation, research design and data collection, biogeography, altitude effects on species composition and so much more! Importantly, you get to start developing your own professional network in important conservation circles.

Food, accommodation, and ground transport are all included in this package.

Please note: Due to the unpredictability of nature and the weather, the days and activities stated below may be switched around or substituted to give you the best experience possible.


Day 1


Your friendly Discover Eden Guide will pick you up at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador. We will then make our way to our overnight accommodation, at a hotel in a quiet area not too far from the airport. You will be able to freshen up before dinner and a chat, getting to know your fellow students that are on the tour with you. Finish off the day with a brief orientation where we will explain everything that lies ahead.

Day 2


We kick off today with a short drive to a cloud forest reserve on the slopes of Pichincha Volcano. Today will be spent at high altitude and we will launch one of the two research projects for the trip! We’ll investigate the effects of altitude on species composition, and will be recording species of birds that we see throughout the trip. After lunch at Yanacocha Reserve, we will drive down the Old Nono-Mindo Road & collect more bird data. In the afternoon we will arrive at Tandayapa Bird lodge where we will be based for most of the course.

Day 3


We kick off with a walk around the lodge to see what we can find. After breakfast we will visit different spots in the Tandayapa Valley. After lunch, we will design and set up a nectar preference study – you’ll be learning about establishing and running a small research project in small groups. The emphasis here will be how hummingbirds prefer different nectars at feeders. End the day with a short walk at dusk to see crepuscular species.

Day 4


Today starts by visiting Paz de Aves, a small private reserve near the town of Mindo. The early start needed to get there is worth it, especially if the amazing Andean Cock-of-the-rock males put on their stunning display at first light. After lunch we head off to Mariposas de Mindo, a local butterfly farm, learning how the life cycle of the various butterfly species work. Conservation of butterflies and their habitat is at the forefront of efforts here.

Day 5


Today we head up to higher elevations of the valley around the lodge. While the emphasis is adding more species for the altitudinal elevation project, we will also be chatting about geology, soils and basic vegetation differences we have encountered on the trip so far. After lunch we head out with reptile experts from Tropical Herping. We will hopefully get up close and personal with a range of amphibian and reptile species.

Day 6


Forests are 3D! We get to explore cloud forest by zipline today, exploring biodiversity higher up from a unique perspective. With a combined 7053 ft of zipline, with several platforms to view from, the local guide will enable much learning for us inside the canopy. A focal point will be seeing epiphytic orchids. After lunch we meet up with the team from Jocotoco Foundation, an NGO that protects almost 173 000 acres across 15 reserves they own! They protect species by creating buffer zones and corridors around national parks and reserves.

Day 7


Today we explore lowland tropical forest at Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, managed by the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation. It is one of the last remaining accessible forest remnants found in this key habitat – situated at an altitude between 1066-1345 ft asl.  Focusing on just how different the ecosystems are at these lower altitudes, expect differences for the hummingbird and tanager project, plant diversity and more. We will also learn about the important community conservation work done, and environmental education work with local schools.

Day 8


The forests of Mashpi are found between 1804 and 4593 ft asl, over a relatively short distance. The highest part of the reserve is cloud forest, leading down to the southeast into tropical rainforest. This means almost unprecedented biodiversity in such a small area compared to almost anywhere else on the planet! We will explore changes in the tree and understorey plant communities. Back at Tandayapa, we spend an evening setting up moth light traps to examine diversity of this group of insects – expect mayhem and chaos!

Day 9


At the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation, we’ll learn about using corridors planted with indigenous vegetation rather than Eucalyptus as a better sequestration alternative that also has added biodiversity benefits. At around 3280 ft asl, this is the last stop where we collect data for our elevation project. After lunch, we do some preliminary data analysis and group presentations on both research projects. We end off with our last dinner at the lodge, as we head back into Quito tomorrow.

Day 10


Parque Condor is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, rescue, rehabilitation, and release of birds of prey, condor, and owls. We’ll learn about the important education and awareness work they do in the region. From the diminutive Pacific Owlet, to the majestic Andean Condor, to the enormous Harpy Eagle, find out what it takes to get these rulers of the sky back into the wild. We will finish the day off visiting the Mitad del Mundo, the equator monument, and some other local sights to experience some Ecuadorian culture.

Day 11


Today is a sad day as we have to say goodbye. After breakfast we will take you to Mariscal Sucre International Airport where you will start to make your way back home. We are sure this experience will benefit you throughout your career and will never be forgotten.