Day 4: Welcome to the Jungle
By The Alpaca Dames:
After a delicious breakfast of homemade breads and native fruits, we donned our rubber boots, called Wellingtons in Ecuador, and left our hotel to explore a portion of the cloud forest near Banos de Agua Santa. Traveling through rock hewed tunnels, we arrived at our starting point, led by our intrepid guide, Miguel, and a local herpetologist, Juan Pablo. With these two pioneering the path, we set out to see many of the flora and fauna that are endemic to Ecuador.
As we journeyed, we experienced many sights and sounds. Of these, we saw several species of the more than 4000 orchids along with several types of bromeliads. While trekking through the mud and muck, we also saw and heard several animals including an Inca jay, a coati, a native snake called the Culebra Verde, and a black tamarind monkey.
With viewing and seeing these amazing animals, we listened to the mesmerizing and melodious sounds of the converging Tigre and Zuna Rivers. These two rivers help form and shape part of the Amazon River basin. To conclude the hike, we were treated to a dazzling display of butterflies, as they danced around mountain rocks in a myriad of colors.
After parting with our muddy Wellingtons, we left the cloud forest en route to Quito. We stopped at a quaint hacienda in a small town for a delicious lunch of avocado soup, chicken and asparagus enchiladas, topped off with passion fruit mousse. The hosts of the restaurant are a husband and wife team, who cook and serve the meals along with maintaining the property. While the rest of the day was spent on the bus, it was still filled with bittersweet moments as we had to say goodbye to two of our new friends and Ecuadoran guides, Marta and Maria Fernandez, but then we were given a stunning and memorable view of a snow capped Cotopaxi mountain.
The day began with the humbling sights and sounds of the rainforest but ends with the music and flavor of the capital, Quito. Adventure awaits us again…tomorrow!