So how was our final day in the Rain Forest? Of course, we woke up at 6 and met the group on an outside terrace at 6:30. Fortunately, the terrace is located next to our room and looks over a portion of the cloud forest.
Lets first talk a little about this rain forest. Rain forests are divided between two types. There is the temperate and tropical rain forests. Most people think of a rain forest as a tropical rain forest such as the Amazon. A cloud forest is constantly covered by fog. When the low level clouds or mist is continually present at the same altitude as the vegetation, the area receives a significant decrease in sunlight and due to the moist conditions, moss develops and all sorts of creatures and vegetation grow. By the way, we are at an elevation of ab out 3500 feet. A cloud forest is also called a “montane rainforest” or another type of rainforest. Now lets talk a little about this cloud forest. Originally this cloud forest consisted of 300,000 acres. All but 2 percent or 6000 acres are left. All the other areas have been either logged, mined or farmed and destroyed. This 6000 acres is a private preserve and is the same cloud forest that has always existed. The Lodge was built by a former mayor of Quito to preserve this area. One acre of land has more species of vegetation and trees than in the entire United States. The next time you use a plastic bag or straw think of this and how precious our world is. This is the only cloud forest left in South America. The largest one in the world is in Costa Rica. There are a few left in Southeast Asia and Africa but they are all much smaller than this cloud forest. I hope you could follow this, but this was one reason why I wanted to visit this area.
Now lets get back to this morning. I took some great pictures of the clouds hanging over the cloud forest. There position is constantly changing and the beauty is all around you.
After breakfast we had our first unique adventure. We hiked up to an area that had a two bicycle sort of gondola. The person in the back pedaled the gondola across the cloud forest and the person in the front took pictures and enjoyed the scenery. I pedaled for about twenty minutes to a platform where a staff member turned the contraption around and I then sat in the front. A unique way to get up close with the cloud forest. We then walked up a steel observation tower that was built on site piece by piece and is seventeen stories high. You can see the awesome beauty as you looked down. The greenness of this area six breath taking. The size of the leaves and moss draped tress and branches makes the area look like a real Jurassic Park.
After hiking back to the Lodge, lunch was served. We were then broken up into three groups for our next unique experience.
We hiked up to a path that led into a trail that further led onto a platform and we boarded an aerial cable car named the “Dragonfly”. The “Dragonfly” seats four people and is a large box that is pulled by a large machine over the cloud forest for forty five minutes. You start at the highest altitude and see the types of vegetation change the lower you get. You are then pulled back up to a platform to be let off. We then all met at a roofed area overlooking the cloud forest. As I looked in the distance, I could see land that is being used for farming and knew that was part of the 98% that has been destroyed. We watched the clouds change as we talked and had some wine, pineapple juice and snacks.
It was then time to board the “Dragonfly” for our ride back. It started to rain as we were pulled along and got quite heavy at times. We finally reached the other platform, got out and hiked back to the Lodge soaked but happy that we had witnessed this amazing area that is so unique in our world.
After dinner, we all met for some night photography, but the rain is still relentless. We had our raincoats on, boots and protective covers for our cameras. Drove to the area we had walked through last night, but it was raining too hard and drove back to the Lodge.
Tomorrow morning we leave, but first we are going back to the hummingbirds for one last encore. Meeting time is at six. we then have breakfast, pack and then check out. We will also have a critique after we pack. Andy and Lisa have asked each of us to pick three images to critique with various reasons for each. I love these sessions and have learned sod much from them over the years. We then travel back to Quito on that windy road, board a plane and fly to Guayaquil.