Monday, October 10, 2016

The Cloud Forest of Ecuador

Everyone has heard of rainforests, but cloud forests are not as well-known. I hadn’t heard of them myself until I came to Ecuador (although there are cloud forests in a number of other countries, such as Costa Rica). I visited the cloud forest in Intag Valley, which is to the northwest of Otavalo. Like rainforests, cloud forests have a lot of biodiversity, but the climate and terrain are different. Cloud forests are at higher elevations than rainforests and, true to their name, they are often cloudy, which leads to dense vegetation and moss hanging from trees, on stones, etc. 

I stayed at a lodge in the Intag cloud forest for five days. It is a lovely remote place, run by a retired American teacher named Peter. He and his wife (who wasn't there during my visit) built several cozy and stylish houses and cabins on the property that blend in with the natural surroundings.

The cloud forest and lodge are easier to describe with photos than words.

Gazebo lookout. Note clouds.
The cabin where I stayed
My room
The view from my room
Path at the lodge (photo credit Peter Joost)
Toki the dog on "Brooklyn Bridge" (Peter is a New Yorker)
Forgot my hat, but my shirt made a passable turban. (Photo credit: Peter Joost)
Riding on the back of a pick-up truck

Many people travel to this area of Ecuador for bird watching. Ecuador - a country the size of Colorado - boasts over 1500 (known) species of birds, compared with under 850 in the U.S. I quadrupled (at least) my knowledge of birds during my short visit, and also developed a great appreciation for moths - butterflies’ under-appreciated cousin. Seriously, moths are a lot cooler than you realize! Check out these guys:

Top: moths mimicking a bee and a green leaf
Bottom: moth mimicking a brown leaf; a cool-looking specimen

There was quite an assortment of butterflies as well:

Top left photo courtesy of Peter Joost. (The rest are my own meager photo attempts.)

Just please don't ask me to identify any of these moth or butterfly species (yet!).

For all of you bird lovers, I am sorry, but I didn’t get a single good photo of a bird! I am using my phone as a camera and the zoom is terrible. Here’s a not-so-good photo of a Thick-billed Euphonia:

Blurry Euphonia photo

(A much better photo of a Euphonia is on Peter’s blog here.)

Now I’m back in the modern world, in Cuenca, Ecuador’s 3rd largest city. I arrived yesterday and can confirm that Cuenca is an attractive colonial town. It might be even more attractive than Quito. It’s also not far from the old Inca Trail, which I hope to hike a bit during my visit. Stay tuned for more... 


Unknown said...

Your room looks very nice and Toki is adorable

Julia M. said...

Toki WAS adorable! Fluffy white dog who loved to roll around in the mud. Lol.

Brian Collins said...

Moths are fascinating! Great pics. Toki looks like a great dog.

slmcanal said...

I want to see the bird! I'm going over to the other blog! 💁🏼