This past weekend I signed up for a weekend trip to Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve to see some of the country's landscape outside of Quito. Once again, I booked the entire trip through the Happy Gringo agency. The package covered transportation, food, lodging, and activities. The van picked me up in Quito at 6:30am along with two couples. We drove about two hours outside of Quito, to the north and west, where we arrived on the reserve grounds. The cloud forest is a special ecological feature, a tropical-feeling forest at a rather high elevation that is kept moist by frequent fog and clouds. Bellavista is particularly good for birdwatching. We got there just in time for breakfast, after which we could explore a bit. There is a station with hummingbird feeders, where I could get great close-up pictures of a few breeds:
the Collared Inca,
and the Sparkling Violetear.
After that, I trekked down to the boots room to grab a pair for our morning trek through the forest and river, where I saw this Blue-winged Mountain Tanager right next to the pathway:
Meeting up after breakfast, the five of us set out with our guide, David. We did a three-hour hike along various established trails on the grounds. Here's what the cloud forest looks like:
And here I am on one of the trails:
As expected, there was some interesting flora life along the way:
After hiking into the forest for a while, we made it down to the valley of the part we were hiking in, where we walked upstream through a river, sometimes using ropes to scale up small waterfalls. We eventually hit the big one, where they had sandbagged the flow enough to create a wading pool. I, however, was way too cold to actually get in the water, so I just took pictures in front of it.
From there we made our way back to the restaurant, where we had some very tasty rainbow trout for lunch. One of the couples left in the afternoon, as they had only come out for a day trip. Down to three, our little group and our guide David set out on our afternoon hike. See the next blog for a continuation of my weekend in Bellavista.