Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bellavista Cloud Forest - Quito

05 Dec 2011

After a very peaceful nights sleep, I was up just before 6.00 just as it was getting light.We had arranged for an early morning bird walk and everyone was ready by 6.15.  We didn't get far initially, just the car park where we found several Masked Trogon and Toucan Barbet.

View at dawn from our room at Bellavista Lodge

Walking around the grounds of the lodge, we also saw two types of Woodcreepers, Cinnamon Flycatchers, Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers and White-sided Flowerpiercers.  We also briefly climbed up a track to a viewpoint which turned out to be the lodge campsite!  The view over the mountains was outstanding.

A rather blurry Masked Trogon

Back at the lodge, it was time for a shower and breakfast.

A very handsome Toucan Barbet

After breakfast,  Lynn and I walked up the road for a while.  We didn't see any birds, but did photograph several very pretty butterflies and some flowers.  At the lodge, there are lots of hummingbird feeders, so there is a constant flow of these beautiful birds coming in to feed.  The smallest, a bee hummingbird, never even lands at the feeder.

Bee Hummingbird

We then went back to the lodge where Lynn set up tripod and camera in our room with the windows wide open, whilst I went for a more adventurous walk by myself.  I walked about 2 kilometres up the road, and then turned off onto a track.  I followed the most obvious track which took me onto the top of a ridge in a grassy sort of field where cows had clearly been grazing recently.  The views from here were magnificent.

View from the top of the mountain

After a while, I found a new signpost which showed that I was on the wrong path, so I had to backtrack all the way back to the road.  After hunting around, I found the 'Yumbo' trail and headed into deep primary rainforest.  There were lots of birds around, but mostly very difficult to see.  After about 20 minutes, I branched off down another path heading toward a waterfall.  The path was marked as difficult and was steep, slippery and all downhill.  Toward the bottom of the path rope handrails had been installed as the path was near vertical.  Finally, at the bottom, I found a beautiful waterfall and took the chance to splash some icy-cold water on my face as I was somewhat warm and sweaty.

Cloudforest waterfall

After a few photos, I set up back up the path.  I hauled myself up the ropes and then started uphill.  Even though the altitude was a bit less than Quito, it was still hard on the lungs.  Rounding one steep corner, I came face-to-face with a Chesnut-crowned Antpitta, it quickly scuttled off into the undergrowth.  As the path was so poor, I had but my camera away - shame!  Shortly afterwards, I was very pleased to see the road as I knew it was an easy 2 kilometres downhill from there.

Blue-winged Mountain Tanager

After lunch at the lodge, we packed again and got ready to leave.  Our small party of 'Brits' had managed to persuade the drivers that we wanted to travel together so that we could consign the noisy Americans to a different minibus!

The journey back down the mountain dirt track wasn't too unpleasant and we eventually reached the main road again and started wind back uphill.  We encountered some major roadworks at one stage and sat outide a very basic restaurant for about 15 minutes.  I couldn't (and probably wouldn't want to) tell you what was being cooked up right in front of us.  Certainly the cut of meat was unidentifiable, suffice it say that it was probably pork.

Back in Quito it was rush hour and fiesta was still ongoing, so traffic was a nightmare.  We finally got back to the hotel after 5.00.

Neither of us was feeling particularly hungry, so we went to the nearby Japanese restaurant again.  The noise from the music in Carolina Park was spectacular again.  We also saw several more 'party buses'cruising around.

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