On Thursday and Friday, my class travelled to Maquicupuna Reserve north of Quito. This type of environment is called a cloud forest because it is, as one could guess, a cloudy forest at a certain elevation along the mountains in tropical regions. Here it is very humid and moderately temperatured year-round.
We left in true Ecuadorian fashion, with the bus arriving to campus two hours late. When we finally got to the reserve, I noticed how many birds there were! It was so exciting to see lots of hummingbirds flitting around. Before going on a hike, we had lunch that consisted of spinach soup, a whole tilapia, yuca, and a tomato/onion salad. As we trekked through the lush forest, my group noted the how the density of woody plants changed as we got farther away from the hostel. Other groups were looking for changes in epiphytes or tree height. During the hike, we found a plant that is used for face painting, leaf-cutter ants, and giant leaves to use as clothing. The forest was covered with vegetation--mosses, orchids, and lianas (vines) were all over the trees. When we got back, each group presented their findings; my group chose interpretive dance and we had a lot of fun presenting.
The next day, I awoke at 6 am to go birding! I didn't see as many birds as I was hoping to, but it was nice to be in a smaller, quieter group with more opportunities to see birds. We had breakfast and then went out on another hike. This hike was more scenic, with a variety of vegetation and land formations present throughout. We stopped along a cold, fast-flowing river for a swim, but it wasn't sunny enough so I decided to just wade (not the best idea because now I have like 10 bug bites). After the four hour hike, we had lunch and then headed back to campus. Maquicupuna Reserve was a beautiful location to spend the night and I would love to go back again to see more birds.
Photos to come.