Riding into the back country, through a sea of grass just below the jagged rocks, the magnificent Andean Condor ‘floats’ over us and, after a cursory glance, cruises on across the bright blue sky. The national symbol of Ecuador (Vultur gryphus) with an incredible wingspan reaching lengths of 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in), is a truly awe-inspiring bird and, thanks to conservation efforts, is an almost guaranteed sight on all our routes.
These birds are scavengers, making them an extremely important link in the ecosystem chain! They play the part of “clean-up crew”, picking carcasses clean which prevents diseases that other animals could contract from eating old meat.
In Ecuador they are still on the endangered list but widespread efforts to protect them have seen their populations slowly begin to stabilize and Ride Andes knows where to take you to get up close to these mighty creatures.
One of the many threats to Condors is eating poisoned meat that is put out for stray dogs. Hungry dogs form packs in the highlands and start hunting; the local subsistence farmers cannot afford to lose animals to these dogs so put out poison. Ride Andes efforts to improve animal welfare and help reduce dog populations through education and sterilization is an indirect but key effort to help protect these incredible birds.