My first day of hiking I wanted to do a long hike and my guide Jorge suggested that we do the Tower Hike. It is a hike to an old bird watching tower. In the beginning the trail follows a ridge and it is surrounded by green and lush vegetation, but also some pastureland. Then the path continues uphill through primary forest full of epiphytes and...more
I and my guide Jorge started the hike after breakfast, around 8.30. We followed a steep path down from Santa Lucia, and passed banana plantations, a coffee field and lush primary forest. When we reached the Umachaca River we turned right and followed the trail which is an ancient trail used by the Yumbo people, it was part of their trade route...more
To see, and hear, the Andean Cock-of-the Rock birds during their mating ritual (lek) you must leave Santa Lucia very early in the morning (at some seasons there is an afternoon lek too, but there is usually less birds then). I, and my guide Jorge, left Santa Lucia at 4.20 in the morning. I was happy I had got an apple from the kitchen the night...more
Very early in the morning on my 4th day at Santa Lucia I had done the hike to see the Cock-of-the -Rock birds, but after breakfast I was ready for another hike and wanted to see the waterfalls and take a swim in the river. So I and my guide set off after finishing breakfast. The path to the waterfalls descends steeply and you will walk through...more
Close to Santa Lucia Eco Lodge there is a self-guided trail which takes about 40-60 minutes to walk. It is a nice walk through lush green primary and secondary forest. At one point there is an Orchid Garden. Unfortunately it was not the right season for many orchids to be in bloom when I visited, but just a few were in bloom. At another point along...more
On my last day at Santa Lucia I had done both the cock-of-the -rock hike and the hike to the waterfalls before lunch. After resting the whole afternoon I decided to take another walk before it got dark and as I hadn’t been to the sugarcane field, and that is a short hike, that is where I went.To the sugarcane field it is mostly downhill and you...more
There is a woman's co-operative that you can visit. They make various things from the forest produce, such as key rings and necklaces. There is some beautiful stuff available to buy! You can get some really authentic things and also feel good that you are supporting the local community!! I recommend it!more
At the bottom of the valley near the reception is a river, you will pass this on your way to the lodge and your way back. The number of different types of butterfly is amazing! They are either flying around or on the river banks. We saw a massive blue butterfly with wings the size of my hands!!more
This is a very strenuous trek of about 6 hours just about continuously uphill! It takes you to the very edge of the Santa Lucia reserve from an altitude of around 1800 up to 2800 meters. But it is entirely worth the effort!As you go higher in altitute you notice complete change in the plant life and fauna... different species, different bird life...more
You have to leave the lodge at 4 am, it's dark, but great! You walk for two hours down, then up steep inclines. Arriving at the lek at 6 am. The lek is where the spectacularly coloured Cock of the Rock male performs it's mating ritual at exactly 6 am each morning!I saw about 20 of them! They are quite big birds, beautiful colour and very noisy!!!...more
Most if not all plants and trees in the forest have a use! Oh how much is to be learnt from local peoples knowledge of the trees! Could there be a cure for cancer or aids here? Whatever secrets lie here should not be destroyed!The Dragon's Blood Tree was my favourite! Pretty dramatic for a tree! A careful cut to the bark makes the tree 'bleed'...more
There is an incredible amount of bird life at Santa Lucia. You will hear all kinds of birds everywhere you go! Seeing them is another story! The forest is thick and makes birdwatching challenging! But with binoculars and a bit of patience it pays off! I saw numerous species including eagle, tucan, woodpecker...more
The Forest comes alive at night! Mammals move about, owls screech!I left the lodge with my guide at 4am and we trecked with flash lights through the jungle... Something big was moving in the thick of the trees right next to us... we shone our lights , but couldn't see it.... it didn't want to see us! Was it a Puma? a Bear? It was big! We went back...more
At the lodge there are several hammocks to relax in if you are not up for trekking!While relaxing you will notice the continual hum of humming birds as they fly around visiting various plants.It took me 5 days of frustration to get this little b******d on film!!! They are just so quick!more
Well, this is the only place to eat up here, but I'm not complaining!!! Every day the local chef cooks 3 meals for you, extremely tasty and very large portions! The locals eat nearly half a chicken and a plate of rice for breakfast! But they are hard grafters! Always with a smile on their faces!
Favorite Dish: Home made Pizza! Domino's and Pizza Hut need some lessons!
Obviously stuck on top of a mountain in the cloud forest with out electricity there are no night clubs to pop out to!
Generally people go to bed early as they get up early the next day! Night time can be fun with everyone playing card games, locals, tourists and volunteers all together! The local guys also play a mean guitar!
Dress Code: Casual
From La Marin in Quito I took the Metrobus ($0.25) to Ofelia. Ofelia is the end station of the Metrobus in north Quito and to go there took 35-40 minutes. At Ofelia I bought a ticket for the bus to Nanegal and it was $1.60 (August 2011). I had to wait a while for the bus, and then the bus journey took 2 hours. In Nanegal a car was waiting for me to take me to the starting point of the trail to Santa Lucia Eco Lodge. About half an hour later I was dropped there and paid the driver $10 which was the price I had been given when I arranged for my stay at Santa Lucia.
The starting point of the trail is at 1300 metres and Santa Lucia Eco Lodge is at 1920 metres, so it is a quite steep trail uphill. Some people arrange for guides to meet them with mules but as I had left some of my luggage in Quito, and I was well acclimatised to high altitude and as it is an easy trail to follow, that was not necessary for me. So than it was only I on the path, surrounded by the green lush forest and the sounds of cicadas, birds and falling leaves and twigs. It was a very nice walk and it took just over an hour to walk up to the lodge.
The day I was going back to Quito I left Santa Lucia Eco Lodge after breakfast and going down the trail took just over half an hour. The car was already waiting as it had just arrived with two new visitors. The bus from Nanegal was leaving at 9.30, but the driver said I could go with him to Nanegalito as he needed to go there and more buses left for Quito from there, but first he had a few things to do and I could wait for him in Santa Lucia’s office-building, then we went to pick somebody up who was also going to Nanegalito. Just before 10 we arrived to Nanegalito and then I waited almost half an hour for a bus. The bus left Nanegalito at 10.30 and it turned out that this bus was not going to Ofelia, but to Terminal Carcelen. So when we entered Quito I went off at a roundabout, by a shopping centre, from where I could take a local bus to Ofelia. It was not far to Ofelia and from Ofelia to La Marin the Metrobus took 45 minutes.
Luggage and bags:
Normal luggage and a small back pack to carry your things during forest hikes.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Rubber boots are provided by the lodge - you will need these if you hike anywhere! Too muddy for walking shoes, but you will need to take these to get up to the lodge in the first place.
Take several thin dark/camoflagued T shirts with you, same for trousers. As soon as you start hiking you find yourself soaking wet from perspiration. So you need to change into dry clothes at the end of the day.
Loads of socks as they get wet too.
You could take a rain coat, but I found it too hot for this!
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Plasdters for blisters etc. General travel first aid kit is a good precaution whereever you go..
Photo Equipment: I found it difficult to photo anything animal wise here due to the extreme foliage! But even so I had my trust 300mm lens with me at all times just incase I saw a Spectecled Bear!! You can see the photos I took on the other tips area.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: You need a flashlight as there is no electricity at the lodge!
Take some matches or a lighter with you for candles etc. - these are provided, but helpful to have your own light just in case.
Miscellaneous: Mosquito repellent - the locals say it is too high for lots of mosquitos! - but as usual I still got bitten... take repellent!
Generally from my experience the weather is hot and sunny in the morning with clear skies. Then after mid day the cloud starts to engulf the lodge and the forest.... it remains hot/warm, but visibility goes down. It may also rain in the afternoon/night, but this is usually a short down pour!
When the lodge is engulfed in cloud you feel you are on top of the world!
The Cloud Forest generates it's 'own' rain as the cloud condenses on the trees leaves forming water that drips down from the canopy.