What is a Cloud Forest?

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About two years ago I had the pleasure to meet Andrew and Nina, two jazz musicians who play their gigs in a cafe called COFFEE & all that JAZZ in Toronto. I was studying in Toronto at the time and it was Saturday morning so I went to this lovely cafe and saw them play there, what a beautiful performance I thought! At the end of the show I started a conversation with them and I found out that they were going to visit Ecuador, my home country, in the following months. I was so surprised and happy to hear that. They told me that they were going to visit Cuenca, a very European city in southern Ecuador known for its beautiful architecture. I was happy about that but suddenly I couldn’t help to persuade them to visit my home town Quito as well. To be successful I offered them to be their personal tour guide and guess what, it worked!    

A few months later, Andrew and Nina visited me in Ecuador. It was so nice to show them the wonderful nature that we have in Ecuador. I took them to the cloud forest, a beautiful subtropical forest located about 100 km to the northwest of Quito. To reach the cloud forest we took a day trip to the village of Mindo and we did a hike to a waterfall in the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve. To reach our forest trail we crossed the valley by cable car. The views during the crossing are stunning! You get to see the Mindo river down below surrounded by lush vegetation and you feel the cool breeze on your face!

From left to right: Andrew, Nina and me

During our walk we saw tropical plants and big trees loaded with other plants growing on them like bromeliads, moss and orchids. We didn’t encounter many birds despite the huge diversity of birdlife that inhabits this area. In 1997 Mindo was named a globally Important Bird Area. Anyway, we had a wonderful time. One of the questions that Nina asked me during the walk was ‘Why is it called the cloud forest?’ It’s a great question and perhaps you are wondering the same… Well, what happens is that the clouds that are driven by the wind are consistently present in forests located in the foothills of the Andes. The clouds are such a constant phenomenon in these forests that they create a unique ecosystem with great biodiversity and endemic species.

After a delicious lunch in the village we started our return to Quito, our last stop was at a bird sanctuary where we saw lots of colorful birds such as tanagers, flower-piercers, hummingbirds and a toucanet! Yes, toucanets are small versions of toucans 🙂    

I am forever grateful to have met Andrew and Nina. The following year, their friends Andrea and Lionel from Ontario – Canada visited Ecuador and I had the pleasure to be their guide and show them the wonders of the cloud forest.      

Andrea and Lionel in the Cloud Forest – Ecuador

Sources

https://www.audubon.org/news/christmas-bird-counting-mindo-ecuador

Hamilton, L. (1995). Mountain Cloud Forest Conservation and Research: A Synopsis. Mountain Research and Development, 15(3), 259-266. doi:10.2307/3673933

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