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Published: October 20th 2012
Escaped out of the city today to hang out with some hummingbirds, hike through a cloud forest and climb waterfalls.
The Bellavista reserve is a cloud forest (or pre-montane / subtropical rain forest) at the southern edge of the Choco / Andean rain forest. With an early start of 6.30am our driver Jonny picked us up from the hotel and we set off on the 50k drive to the cloud forest reserve. Whilst only 50k away from the city the drive took a little over 2 hours as the last 10k is on an unpaved road twisting and turning up into the sky – it was a bone shaking ride with stunning and sometime slightly concerning views with steep drops to the side of the narrow road.
The Bellavista lodge is an amazing setup in the middle of the forest, we were warmly welcomed with breakfast before being sent off to don gum boots for a 3 hour trek through the forest.
All around the grounds of the lodge hung bird feeders filled with sugar water for the hummingbirds to feed on. And feed they did, tiny little birds, flapping their wings so fast
that they are just a blur dipping in and out of the feeders and occasionally swooping a little too close to my head – hummingbirds are attracted to the colour red, with my hair up in a ponytail the bright red streaks I had put in my hair just before I left were in full display, and a few of the hummingbirds decided to come check them out.
Once we were all gum booted up we were off on our hike with our guide George, a local lad with a huge amount of knowledge about the forest, its history and inhabitants. He gave us the choice of a moderate to difficult hike or one labelled slippery / difficult leading into slippery / suicidal….. The slippery suicidal option was sold to us with tales of wading up a river, using ropes and ladders to climb some waterfalls and getting to see more of what the cloud forest had to show us, so off we set.
The hike was amazing, tough in parts, lots of steep ascents (being at altitude and still not quite acclimatised meant lots of shortness of breath very quickly) and even steeper descents as
we trekked down to the forest floor to meet the river. Once at the river the reason for being made to wear gum boots became apparent, at root level the trees made the forest impassable in places so we waded through the river following it up stream for nearly an hour, navigating 3 small waterfalls, using wooden ladders hammered into the rock face and knotted ropes to pull ourselves up
The forest was teeming with bird life, and whilst you couldn’t always see them the air was filled with the sound of mountain toucans and tanger-finches other calling to each other, apparently very occasionally Spectacled Bears pass through the reserve, and whilst we kept our eyes peeled we did not get to meet one this time.
Hike over we were back at the lodge for a well-earned lunch and some relaxation time with the hummingbirds before starting the bone shaking ride back to the city.
Tomorrow brings a tip to Mitad del Mundo – the middle of the world!
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