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Ecuador Cloud Forest – Santa Lucia

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Hummingbirds in flight Ecuador

By Peter Norwood

Ecuador Cloud Forest – Santa Lucia

Andean Trails’ Tom regales us with an account of his recent trip to Santa Lucia Lodge in the Ecuadorean cloud forest not far from the capital Quito.

 

He writes:

“Looks like a young male tarantula, they can get quite aggressive,”.

The big black and purple spider before us ‘hopped’ twice then sped towards my wellies. An undignified squeal and a leap from myself, and said spider zoomed into the undergrowth.

“He was lively,” our guide Carlos laughed as we carried on walking through the pristine cloud forest that surrounds Santa Lucia eco-lodge, Ecuador.

 

Santa Lucia Tarantula Ecuador

Santa Lucia, tarantula, Ecuador

 

Getting there

Lively, yes, Santa Lucia is that. It’s an energetic 500m climb through wildlife rich forest to make it to Santa Lucia, which sits perched atop a mountain at 1,950m.

The rewards more than outweigh the energy expended.

We awoke in our private cabin to crisp-aired and clear views over cloud forest, mountains and over the fertile Choco valleys.

Spectacled bears roam the hillsides while humming birds flit busily from flowers to orchids.

On clear nights you will see the Milky Way above you because the lodge doesn’t turn on any electricity at night.

Meals are by candlelight and the people that protect this land will illuminate the evenings with their stories.

All the food (some grown on site), lodging and transport is provided by 12 local families, making Santa Lucia the ultimate community tourism project.

 

Santa Lucia Cloud Forest lodge

Santa Lucia Cloud Forest lodge

 

Keep looking

As well as spiders, snakes, frogs and mammals, bird watchers can look for more than 400 species, including an active Cock-of-the-Rock lek.

“Can you see it?” Carlos was whispering.

“It’s really hard to see, under that big green leaf over there,”

There were hundreds of big green leaves. Carlos beckoned us down a muddy slope, sliding down.

“Shhhhhh, we’re close”.

Carlos peeled back a huge leaf, from underneath which came chirping and cheeping. I have no idea how he’d seen something so small, from so far away.

“Brown Inca humming bird chicks,” he explained.

Three tiny beaks popped out of a nest the size of baby’s coat pocket.

“We cannot stay, the parents will be close, we mustn’t disturb them,” Carlos said quietly, and we beat a hasty retreat.

Later we heard a bear walking around and kept our eyes peeled for the elusive pumas and porcupines that can sometimes be seen.

An extremely rich coffee is grown and sold by the families, as well as sugar that you will get the chance to make, too.

Carlos was an incredible guide who was born, grew up and continues to live and care for the forest, which he helped bring alive to our city eyes.

 

Santa Lucia Cloudforest Lodge Ecuador

Santa Lucia Cloudforest Lodge, Ecuador

The statistics

Santa Lucia has been an official reserve since 1998 and is protected by the 12 families in the local community.

More than 80% of the 725 hectares are primary cloud forest.

With height differences between 1,315m-2,800m, there is an impressive bio-diversity.

There are more than 40km of trails to explore, guided or unguided, and the lodge is about a two-hour drive from Quito.

Contact us for more.

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