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Stop Overs enroute to Ecuador from Singapore

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Old Friday 22nd November 2019, 16:20   #1
viator
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Stop Overs enroute to Ecuador from Singapore

Hi,

Next June I'm planning a trip to Ecuador for 3 weeks and getting there from Singapore requires multiple flights!

Since I'd rather avoid US transits with the current administration (and the connections require long lay overs anyway i.e effectively a night on the west coast) the quickest routes are via Europe and then a brief transit in either Panama or Bogota before the last leg to Quito. Since I'm planning on using accumulated reward miles on Singapore Airlines airline choices also limited to partner airlines.

My question is would you do an overnight break in Panama City or Bogota for 1 day's birding or continue immediately with a few hour transit. Note my question is not so much about convenience (with at 30+ hr end-to-end flight time a few hours here or there is irrelevant) but rather the value of say an 8hr birding lay over in either city vs having that additional time in Ecuador.

Note whole trip planned to be solo with local guides intended to be hired adhoc for some specials only rather than a fully guided trip.

Thanks in advance
Mike
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Old Friday 22nd November 2019, 16:26   #2
Andrew Whitehouse
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You could certainly do some reasonable birding in Panama City in a short period of time e.g. at Parque Metropolitano:
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L454708
There are also good spots for shorebirds e.g.
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L454666
Tocumen Marsh near the airport is also good, although I've not been there myself:
https://ebird.org/hotspot/L454719
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Old Wednesday 27th November 2019, 20:56   #3
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I would caution a little regarding Panama City, not that I don't feel it is worthwhile, but because traffic like in many other larger cities can be atrocious and you may not be able to get back and forth as quickly as you expect. It is all dependent on time of day. If you make a 24 hour layover, it would even be possible to go to Gamboa with some really great birding around.

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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 12:47   #4
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Mike, Edelweis airlines, which is part of Swiss group, fly twice a week from Zurich to San Jose. From San Jose you can go to Quito.
December 2018 I've used Iberia air, from Madrid to Quito, a quite flight, but unfortunately not related to Miles & more group.
First few days I stayed at Tandayapa lodge and I used, for my daily trips a local driver. He doesn't speak English, but it wasn't a big problem for me. He knows all places around Milpe Valley. If you want contact him, send me a PM.

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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 13:27   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
I would caution a little regarding Panama City, not that I don't feel it is worthwhile, but because traffic like in many other larger cities can be atrocious and you may not be able to get back and forth as quickly as you expect. It is all dependent on time of day. If you make a 24 hour layover, it would even be possible to go to Gamboa with some really great birding around.

Niels
There's a similar problem in Bogota too - although it was fine on a Sunday, when I arrived, you need to factor in delays the rest of the time. The botanical gardens are not too far from the airport though, nor is Parque La Florida (although the latter I believe on the edge of the city limits and consequently more difficult to access by taxi).

The other factor you might want to consider is biogeographic - not sure how many shared species with Ecuador you'll see in eastern Andes around Bogota, compared to lowland central America around Panama City, so which will give you the most unique species? I would imagine that Panama might tip the balance in that respect, being further away and having lowland coastal habitats.
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Old Thursday 28th November 2019, 13:35   #6
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There are also quite a few good options for a day around Bogotà, although note that you will need private transport as getting to and from these sites with public transport is not a good option if you have limited time. Here are four possible options:

1. Chingaza area, concentrating either on the paramo areas for high-altitude hummingbirds (including the endemic Green-bearded Helmetcrest), near-endemic Pale-bellied Tapaculo, and more; or lower down in the Nuevo Mundo area for Flame-winged Parakeet and upper subtropical birds. There should be a set of hummingbird feeders at La Calera for the spectacular near-endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet, and you might still have time for the Guasca gravel pits for the endemic Bogotà Rail (also easy at Parque La Florida near Bogotà airport)

2. Sumapaz NP: about 90 min from Bogotà, very good for paramo birds, similar to Chingaza but with a better shot at Green-bearded Helmetcrest, plus the endemic Apolinar's Marsh Wren is fairly easy here (it's also possible but more difficult at Parque La Florida, and note that the birds at Sumapaz are a different, recently-described subspecies). Easily combined with La Florida, and if you're interested in cool subspecies the endemic 'Colombian' Horned Lark can be found within the city of Bogotà

3. Magdalena valley sites: Laguna Tabacal and Jardin Encantado are easily combined and not too far from Bogotà, and you can see endemics or near-endemics like Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Blue-lored Antbird, and more

4. Monterredondo area: with an early start and a longish drive (2.5 hours) you could go look for the endemic Cundinamarca Antpitta (easy to hear, very hard to see) and lots of other subtropical east slope birds, including the endemic Flame-winged Parakeet and near-endemic Ochre-breasted Brush-Finch, plus a long shot at Greater Scythebill
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