The cloud forest in Ecuador is as beautiful and mystic as the Amazon Rainforest itself, I would dare to say it is a little more impressive thanks to the stonishing “over the cloud” views from the mountains.
What is the cloud forest?
An endless green land wherever you look! Maybe the only big difference with the rainforest is the many elevations the cloud forest shows, which leads to lower temperatures and the increment of mosses all over the ground.
In regards to wildlife, the cloud forest in Ecuador shows a vast colorful display of birds, especially toucans, hummingbirds, quetzals, and the well-known Andean cock-of-the-rock. But not only this, the cloud forest homes other species such as butterflies, frogs, sloths, some jaguars and pumas, and spectacles bears and Andean bears as well.
Besides, even when the flora seems to be almost the same as in the Rainforest, the one characteristic of Cloud Forest Ecuador is the variety of orchids and bromeliads among other beautiful flowers.
8 reasons you should take a trip to Ecuador’s Cloud Forest
Either you are an experienced ornithologist or not, an adventure seeker, or a wanderer looking for a magical environment to spend your holidays, the cloud forest in Ecuador has plenty of reasons for you to come and visit.
No doubt, this is the highlight of the cloud forest in Ecuador. Did you know that the Ecuadorian cloud forest nests more than 500 different species of birds? In only one walk you can observe many of them if you are patient enough. The most popular are: toucans, hummingbirds (more than 30 species), the Golden-headed Quetzal, and the icon of the Cloud Forest: the Andean Cock-of-the-rock. There are guided tours happening very early in the morning that are willing to take you to witness the mating ritual of this gorgeous fellow.
ORCHIDS AND BROMELIADS
Ecuador claims to register the biggest number of orchids around the globe – true this! – Only in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, there are more than 400 species of orchids, and many bromeliads as well. So, if you love these flowers don’t forget to pay a visit to the Orchids’ farm in Mindo, or even better, go wander around the cloud forest (better with a guide) and find them by yourself.
Picture this: lush vegetation, impressive waterfalls, semi rapids waters, a huge amount of flowers and wildlife… don’t you feel like this would be the perfect scenario for the new Jurassic Park movie? Well, let me assure you this is how cloud forest in Ecuador looks! And it is more than that, in higher altitudes, you can enjoy the views of the misty forest from over the clouds.
The best thing is you can witness all this beauty even in small walks or horse riding.
If you are one of the kinds of people who are really into nature but not a big fan of extreme adventures, the cloud forest in Ecuador has a lot to offer to you regarding landscapes. Most of the travelers head to Mindo to hike to the Waterfalls Sanctuary, but the cloud forest in Ecuador is more than just Mindo. A 12.9 km (8 mi) trekking within the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve takes you straight to the active Calderas Volcano, on the other hand, Maquipucuna Biological Reserve gives you the chance to spot more colorful birds and orchids all the way long. So just book your ideal tour and go wander!
The cloud forest in Ecuador is the “dreamed place” to be for people who enjoy taking some risk while traveling. Ziplining, mountain biking, canyoning, tubbing… pick your favorite!
Even an innofensive hike can turn into something “tarzanian” if you include a cable car and some rope-made bridges.
The cloud forest in Ecuador hides some awesome lodges!
The NatGeo Award winner Mashpi Lodge (undoubtedly the number one on the list), surprises everyone with its modern/minimalist/rustic style and impressive outdoor views. Indulge yourself with one of its spa treatments or guided tours into the jungle. Less luxurious but yet spectacular, Tandayapa Bird Lodge is specialized in birdwatching and professional birds photo shooting. Don’t miss the chance to get some knowledge from local and international photographers during your visit to this lodge. Sachatamia Lodge is another beautiful place to stay, this elegant wooden house also offers guided tours and it has an indoor swimming pool if you want to relax during one of the many rainy days in the forest.
Due to the blessed variation in altitude and temperatures, the cloud forest has the ideal soil to grow the best gift from the gods to us mortals… cacao or I would say chocolate. There are many artisanal chocolate factories in the cloud forest areas, most of them offer chocolate tours that included a lot of tasting to treat your senses. Believe me, you would not be disappointed after a tour like this!
As I said before, Mindo is the number one destination to experience the cloud forest, but not the only one. There are other as beautiful and charming villages as Mindo. Locations such as Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, Yunguilla Reserve, Intag, Cotacachi, and Otavalo have plenty of interesting things to show to outsiders, from guided tours to the forest to open-air indigenous markets on weekends. So grab your mao and start wandering around the cloud forest in Ecuador!
How to get there?
That is an easy trip from the capital Quito. Once you are in Quito make sure to take the route 28 to head to the northwest, where most of the touristic places like Mindo and Tandayapa are located, the whole ride could take about 2 or 3 hours, depending on your final destination.
To go to northeast places like Cotacachi take the route 28B and then the route E35.
If you are traveling by local buses from Quito, go to Carcelén bus terminal. There you will find several options going to both sites on a daily basis.
What to do next?
Since Ecuador has three of the four regions within the continent, you have uncountable options. But here are some suggestions for you:
- SIERRA – COAST: Book our CONDOR PASS and visit the most iconic places in the Ecuadorian highlands and coast such as Quito, Cotopaxi, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Montañita, among others.
- JUNGLE: If you feel more like having an Amazon experience, head to the Cuyabeno Reserve and get ready to discover the beautiful Ecuadorian Rainforest.
Remember, Wanderbus Passes are the most fun way to discover the most beautiful sites in Ecuador. All our tour guides are professional and friendly and their only goal is to make your Ecuadorian experience unforgettable. We have very comfortable transportation with games, snacks, and activities included.
Are you ready to discover Ecuador and make new friends along the ride?