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Bellavista Cloud Forest (Ecuador)

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2 Reviews

The Bellavista Reserve is composed of pre-montane cloud forest. The elevation ranges between 1400 and 2600 meters above sea level, with an average mean temperature of 14-22 degrees celsius. Bellavista's forest contains a high level of epiphyte (plants that grow on other plants) diversity, so trees are festooned with hanging gardens of guest plants. Because of the steep slopes, light penetrating the forest floor allows a veritable jungle to grow. Within the reserve there are over 320 recorded species of birds, as well as a large number of botanical treasures, such as bromeliads and orchids. Mammals present here include the endangered spectacled bear (rarely seen, but protected by the Reserve), and Andean coati amongst others.

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    • More +
      15.06.2013 16:21
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      An eco lodge up in the cloud forests in Ecuador

      Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge

      While we were in Quito we wanted to see as much as we possibly could and our tour company arranging our travel were very good at suggesting tours for us. One of the places they suggested for a day tour was Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge. It is possible to stay at the lodge or just go up and back from Quito in a day. If you are not short of time I would suggest staying a night as it was a very long and tiring journey to do both ways in a day. I think it was about 3.5 to 4 hours each way and the last ten miles were on dirt with huge pot holes while climbing upwards on very tight hair pin bends. It was not for the faint hearted and I was so glad that it was not raining as then the mud roads would have been even more exciting!

      Bellavista is in the Tandayapa Valley, and is lower than Quito which seemed strange as we seemed to spend a lot of the time driving upwards along the little track. It is in what is known as the high cloud forest at 2,200  metres so needless to say it is often in the clouds and they do get a lot of rain.

      We were collected at about 6am from the hotel and set off. On the way we stopped at Puluhua Volcano for a glimpse into the crater of this volcano where a community live and farm the fertile grounds. It looked beautiful and green and another American woman who had been there and stayed in the hostel there said it was idyllic and so quiet. However we just looked from above and it was really cold so after a few photos and listening to what she told us about her stay we were on the road again.

      The main part of the journey was along normal sealed roads but once off that the mud roads were very hairy. There was very little between us and the edge of the sheer drop and at times we were climbing over huge ruts lolloping from one side to another which was far from relaxing. However there were beautiful views and every now and they the driver pointed out plants of interest and he was happy to stop for anyone to take photos too.

      We were the only people in our van staying just the day so once we arrived the others were shown to their rooms. We had been chatting to the American woman and so after our walk/hike I asked if I could see her room. It was very rustic with a tiny ensuite shower room but nicely decorated with local bits and pieces . The piece de la resistance was the glassed in balcony that jutted out into the cloud forest. It was totally private and so had no curtains and gave the feeling of being right there in the trees of the forest as the balcony was about tree height. It was quite charming but I am not sure how chilly and damp it got once the sun went down.

      After we arrived we were welcomed by the owner , a man born in Belper in Derbyshire, about ten miles from us, who spoke about ten languages . He explained that everyone was going to be shown to their rooms and then we would meet for our hike in about ten minutes.

      We wandered over to the cafe in the clouds for a coffee before we were going to meet our guide for the walk. He came into the cafe and introduced himself and asked us all if we wanted to go on the difficut, the intermediate or the easy hike. The family of Dutch fold opted for the easy hike and asked if we minded . We said we didn't mind and so that was the one we ended up doing.

      Initially the American lady was not going to come if it was going to be a tough hike but now she thought she would join us so there were sevn of us altogether plus a guide.

      I am so glad the family opted for the easy hike as this was not easy. The paths were slippery, narrow and very steep in places and in total we walked about three miles so not far but it was not an easy country walk. I hate walking where it is slippery and steep as the thought of landing on my bottom doesn't appeal and having a damp and muddy back end for the rest of the day was extremely unappealing.

      The hike was great though and the guide was lovely. We saw lots of different plants, many orchids and bromeliads. We didn't see a lot of animal life as they are so good at hiding. We saw toucans in a tree a long way off and we needed binoculars to see them

      The guide made a real effort to find interesting things for us to see and was extremely knowledgeable, spoke excellent English ( as did the Dutch family of course) and explained things in an interesting and lively way. We chatted to each other too and so the walk was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours before lunch.

      When we got back from the hike we had a little while before lunch so we spent the time exploring the lodge and visiting the room of our America lady friend. There was a small shop selling souvenirs, guide books to birds, some hiking type clothes and it also had a few bird guides laminated so that you could try and recognise those you saw.

      The lunch was a delicious corn soup with fried corn to sprinkle on it like croutons. The main meal was trout caught in the local river which was very tasty but did require some dissecting to remove the bones. The trout was served with steamed vegetables and potatoes which we plain but tasty. The dessert was fresh fruit salad.

      After lunch they suggested we could go for a hike by ourselves along the self guided trails but as we only had under an hour before we were due to leave we chose stay around the lodge and explore some more and sit and watch the little humming birds.

      They have about 350 different bird species in the area and there are 16 different varieties of humming bird that visit the feeders at the lodge. I was totally taken with these lovely little birds and could have sat all day watching them.

      Bellavista is a mountain reserve and although you would be very lucky to see them, it is a protected area for the rare spectacles bear, the puma, Andean coati and tayra. Needless to say we didn't see these, they are also nocturnal some of them so that lessens your chances even further if you are only there for a day.

      This was a real eco escape . There is no wifi and no phone signal so you are really able to switch off. There is a computer with internet in the office so if you have an emergency then the owner will allow you to use this, to check in for a flight or similar for example.

      The owner still guides tours to Madagascar and was guiding a tour when he found this place and decided with his wife to settle here.

      I wish we had been able to stay one night here as the day trip was quite exhausting. On the way back we bounced along the mud track for the first ten miles or so then sped on until we reached the Mitad del Mundo where we stopped for about ten minutes to take a few photos before driving back through the rush hour in Quito to get to the hotel at around 6pm.

      On one website it says this is just over two hours from Quito - maybe from the outskirts of Quito but getting to the outskirts takes around an hour so in total it was a good three to four hour drive even with only stopping about ten to fifteen minutes in each direction.

      If you only have one spare day while in Quito then this is a great way to spend it, if you have longer then I would saty a night here. It is a fabulous eco lodge with the most wonderful humming birds I have ever seen and unusual quirky rooms for their guests. The food is good wholesome and freshly cooked too.

      They even provide wellies and walking sticks too as not many people plan on packing wellies when going on holiday unless it is to a festival or similar.

      Thanks for reading. This review may be placed on other sites under my same username.

      ©Catsholiday

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      • More +
        30.05.2007 16:58
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        Nice scenery, plenty of Hummingbirds to watch

        On our recent trip to Ecuador, South America we had a 2 day 1 night stay at the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve is less than 2 hours away from Quito but still deep in the forest. Our reason for visiting Bellavista was to see the many species of hummingbirds at the feeders. There are also many trails to walk.

        We arrived around midday after travelling from Quito. It was raining quite hard but we didn’t notice this when we saw all the hummingbirds at the syrup filled feeders around the main area of the lodge. There were also vivid blue Jays. We went to “The Dome” which is a wooden building with 360 degree views from which you can see the rugged peaks of Pichincha and Catacachi in the distance. The Dome also had a restaurant and bar and library and accommodation above and cafe below. There was also a covered outside veranda with seating on one side to view the birds. We were allocated our rooms. There are different styles of rooms. There were the Dome rooms; Trailhead House, Gloria’s House, Bamboo House and they also have budget rooms at the research station. We had the Bamboo house. This house was totally built out of bamboo and we had the top floor (completely to ourselves) reached by a windy staircase. At the top of the stairs we had our very own hammock! Inside were 4 very large comfy beds, a bathroom with toilet & shower. We also had a little sink, a small lounge and a patio with table & chairs which from this led another staircase to another balcony.

        After being shown our rooms it was time for lunch. There was some kind of soup, cauliflower cheese for me, chicken for the meat eaters with vegetables and a pudding a bit like instant whip. We were then provided with Wellington boots and huge plastic capes for walking around. We also decided to take up an offer of a walk with a guide. As we walked along the trail the rain had stopped so it was more pleasant. We were not really seeing any birds as such except for a small glimpse if you were quick with binoculars. After about 25 minutes it started raining big time and to be honest all I wanted to do was to be back at the lodge. It really was no fun at all especially as we were not seeing anything interesting and had to keep our heads down to watch where we were walking.

        At last back at the lodge. We managed to spend a little time in our lovely bamboo room. By dinner time it had stopped raining so we could lose our plastic capes. Dinner was again soup, some kind of vegetable casserole with rice and a piece of cheese! A cake type thing for desert which was nice. As the dome was the focal point we sat and chatted with fellow guests and retired to our rooms around 10pm.As we walked back to our rooms we were aware of bats flying around. We sat and read on the patio before having a quick hot shower and jumping into our warm comfy beds.

        Early next morning after a comfy sleep I woke around 05:30 and looked outside at the new day dawning. Out on the patio I could see daylight creeping in over the Tandayapa Valley. I could hear birdsong although I couldn’t actually see any birds.

        I quickly dressed and went outside and could see the Hummingbirds starting to feed on the feeders. There are 14 common species of Hummingbirds that come to the various feeders. As these little birds hadn’t eaten since dusk they were cold and hungry and eager to feed. I called my husband and he too got dressed and we spent some time filming and taking photos of these delightful creatures. There are also 57 common species of other birds plus other birds not seen so often. We also saw a Rhinoceros beetle.

        After a delicious breakfast of muesli, fruit and fried eggs and bread we had to decide which of the 9 trails we wanted to do. I had wanted to do the trail with the waterfall in and had made up my mind on this even before we left the UK. Hubby was content to sit and film the Hummingbirds all morning but as I pointed out, although they were great just how much film of Hummingbirds can you watch? The waterfall trail won. We were told the best waterfall trail had ropes and ladders to climb and was this ok. Our group which was made up of 6 Canadians ‘and ourselves and we all felt we were up to it. Our ages ranged from late 30’s to over 50. Our young guide Pablo carried a huge Machete as we had had a lot of rain and that there were fallen branches etc he might need to clear. We set off at a comfortable pace. We found this huge dead worm and I mean huge! We spotted several butterflies which had now come out in the sun. We were not seeing many birds but the walk was pleasant enough. We were going down a little fairly steep track and our guide was pointing out various flora n fauna to us. He gave us a twig to chew that apparently contained aspirin and it did actually taste like aspirin. After about an hour or so it was apparent we were coming near the waterfall as we could hear it. We had to scramble carefully over wet rocks to see the cascading water. As I had my swimwear on under my clothing I stripped off and jumped in complete with my wellies as it was so rocky ( I looked a treat!!!) God it was cold er I mean refreshing. We all took the obligatory photos, got dressed and moved on. Now the fun was to really begin. The guide was unsure if we could go on as the water was maybe too deep due to all the rain we had had. He checked it out and he gave it the OK and we walked on through rocks and water. Next we had to negotiate a rope to get ourselves over a rock face. We were told to hold on with both hands and under no circumstances to let go! It was steep and slippery. I went first and it wasn’t as bad as it had looked. The guide & I watched the rest negotiate it and encouraged them. We walked further on and the guide said we could go back or we had to do another rope and also a ladder. We all decided we didn’t want to go back so onwards it was. This rope was over a very sheer rock face which was difficult reach as we had to be careful not to slip. We had to virtually abseil. My heart was pounding & for a few minutes thought I wasn’t going to be able to do this but I didn’t want to go back. I hung on for grim death and managed to clear the face and was soon beside the guide. The others clapped. Now I had to encourage them. Soon they were all down. By now most of us were wet, muddy and a bit musky smelling but we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We carried on a bit further and found the ladder going down another sheer face of rock. Again a bit difficult to get on to, but we all managed it and we continued through some quite fast running water. We continued walking another 20 or so minutes when the water ended and we were on a path. We had a steep climb of about 30 minutes (which was harder than the river bit) and we came to the wide tarmac path to take us back to the lodge. We were all elated. Pablo said his parents wouldn’t have completed the trail. It had taken us about 3 hours.

        After hurriedly packing up our belongings from our room we made for the dome for our lunch which we felt was more than well deserved.

        After lunch it was time to head back to Quito.

        Recommended. For hard core twitchers ( we are not) Just for the humming birds and cute accomodation.

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      • Product Details

        The Bellavista Reserve is composed of pre-montane cloud forest. The elevation ranges between 1400 and 2600 meters above sea level, with an average mean temperature of 14-22 degrees celsius. Bellavista's forest contains a high level of epiphyte (plants that grow on other plants) diversity, so trees are festooned with hanging gardens of guest plants. Because of the steep slopes, light penetrating the forest floor allows a veritable jungle to grow. Within the reserve there are over 320 recorded species of birds, as well as a large number of botanical treasures, such as bromeliads and orchids. Mammals present here include the endangered spectacled bear (rarely seen, but protected by the Reserve), and Andean coati amongst others.