Two hours north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, my partner Coen and I hit a dirt road, left civilization behind, and entered Ecuador’s cloud forest, an evergreen moist forest that characterizes a large part of the country’s landscape. A gate indicates the entrance to the 3,200-acre Mashpi Reserve, which protects an important part of the Choco Forest that stretches far into Colombia. Eighty percent of this incredible biodiverse forest has already been destroyed and as a result much of the endemic flora and fauna is on the verge of extinction.
Apart from an abundance of plant species, an estimated 500 species of birds (some 35 are endemic) share this home with animals such as monkeys, peccaries, ocelots and anteaters.
Coen and I came to the Mashpi Eco Lodge, which lies in the heart of this reserve, to see hummingbirds, butterflies, and orchids but soon discovered that this cloud forest is much richer than that.