Mainland Ecuador
· The Andes - Highlands
   Quito City
   Cuenca City
   Baños Town
   Haciendas
   Indigenous Markets
   Craft Villages
   Mountains & Volcanoes
   The Cloud Forest
   The Andes FAQ
· The Amazon Rainforest

· The Coast
 
The Andean Cloud Forest
 
Cloud Forest
Located about 1 ½ hours Northwest of Quito, the Ecuadorian subtropical evergreen mountain forest is characterized by a permanent  incidence of canopy level mist cover, resulting in the reduction of direct sunlight and thus of evaporation. 


The warm and humid environment promotes the development of an abundance of epiphytes, bromeliads, moss and ferns.  With tree species like cedar, wild avocado, white cinnamon, black raspberry, and stinging nettles.

Perhaps the most characteristic trait of this region is the richness of orchids  and birdlife in a range of  350 different varieties species including cock of the rock, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, etc. Its butterflies, bats, squirrels, deer, spectacled  bear and small amphibians are also an attraction.

Maquipucuna Reserve
The Maquipucuna Reserve is a 4,500-hectare privately owned and managed nature reserve, 80% of Maquipucuna consists of steeply-sloped, undisturbed cloud forest. Covering four different life zones ranging from 1,200 to 2,800 meters above sea level, it  houses a tremendous diversity of flora and fauna. In fact, it is located next to the Choco bioregion of northwestern Ecuador, which is one of only ten “biodiversity hotspots” in the world; this diversity of plants rivals that of lowland tropical forests and is a result of the humid conditions due to nearly constant mists at high altitudes. 



Waterfall in the Middle of the Cloud Forest


Tandayapa Reserve
The Tandayapa Valley, dominated by humid cloud forest,  has some of the highest diversity of epiphytes anywhere in the world, holding many epiphytic orchids (over 80 species identified to date) and bromeliads, tree ferns, and moss-covered trees. The valley forms the most easily accessible part of the threatened Chocó Endemic Bioregion of southwest Columbia and northwest Ecuador, which hosts 61 range-restricted birds, and 9000 plant species (more than 10 percent of the Neotropical flora!). 
With the use of hummingbird feeders 31 species have so far been recorded in the area, and seeing twenty species in a single day is not a rare event.

Hummingbird at Tandayapa Reserve

Lodges

Maquipucuna Reserve Lodge
Accomodation Rating: ····· 3
3 days/2 nights - Friday departures
Maquipucuna Rserve Lodge

Accommodation at this lodge is basic yet comfortable. It has 6 rooms with private facilities and 4 rooms with shared facilities, a library and a great kitcken where wonderful home-made meals are prepared. The lodge has trails, waterfalls and two rivers perfect for swimming.
 
Arasha Resort & Spa
Accomodation Rating: ····· 5
3 days/2 nights - Friday departures
Arasha Resort & Spa

An excellent combination  of a first class spa surrounded by tropical forest.  Located just 2 hours Northwest of Quito, Arashá is the ideal destination for those looking to relax in the swimming pool or get a stimulating massage after a day’s walk bird watching in the nearby cloud forest of Tandayapa or Mindo.   The lodge offers 27 bungalows with private facilities and all the modern comforts;  a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, spa, restaurant, bar, games room,  theater, a natural swimming pool at El Negrito Creek and wonderful gardens.

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