From Quito we headed about 2 hours Northwest to the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve. The first couple days it seemed more like a rain forest reserve, but the third day was nice and sunny in the morning so all was forgiven. The cloud forest here was very beautiful and quite different than those we saw in Costa Rica. The plant life was much more diverse and there were tree ferns, bit no monkeys. There were tons of flowers and birds, and the guides were very good about pointing out these and the many interesting and useful plants. We all enjoyed watching the hordes of hummingbirds at the feeders. On the first day I saw 12 different types of hummingbirds there.
The part Zane liked the best was that we got to stay up in the top of the dome building, with 360 degree views into the forest (or sometimes just clouds), and we had to climb two flights on ladders to get there.
One morning we took a trip out to a lek used by Andean Cock-Of-The-Rock birds. A lek is a place where the males congregate every morning to show off their stuff and try to attract a mate. We left at 5:15AM, drove for 30 minutes, walked for 15 minutes, then sat down in the forest and waited. Sure enough, in a few minutes some birds sta,rted calling. Not too long after that the trees around us were exploding with the raucus calls of these strange-looking birds – with bright red heads the shape of flattened light bulbs. The birds were somewhat hard to see but the sound was amazing. After about an hour the party died off and we went back to the lodge for breakfast. Not an activity that was on the “must do” list when we left home, but memorable nonetheless.
Next stop, Banos. (the town, not the bathroom)