Reserva Los Cedros: Cloud Forest Reserve in Cotacachi, Part 3
The calm and pristine beauty of Los Cedros was a welcomed relief for me after what seemed like an endless journey of mud and mules through the rainforests of Ecuador. For 3 days I had endured a slip-sliding ride in the Toyota along muddy Intag roads, dodging heavy road-building equipment, inching across treacherous bridges and almost turning over at one point. Although tired, very sore and mule-weary when I arrived at Los Cedros, an evening of rest and good food had me revved up for a bit of exercise the next day.
We hiked through the cloud forest reserve with a guide who pointed out trees, plants, orchids and other flowers. Some of the orchids were so tiny we would have missed them completely, even if we’d been looking directly at them. He told us many of the names and I have tried to label some of them, but often I couldn’t understand him or spell what he said.
Trees of Los Cedros
This forest is very different from the Amazon rainforest. Los Cedros is actually a high altitude rainforest, with peaks that reach as high as 4200 meters. The cloud forest of Los Cedros derives its name from the enormous cedar trees that once covered the area.
Luckily there are still some of the old cedars left.
There are also large trees of other species, such as the fragrant copal. We gathered the enticing copal nuts because their smell is so heavenly and because the guide told us that the juice inside the nut is good for bad knees. I wondered if it would ease the pain in my gluteus maximus!
Another tree in Los Cedros is the faubosia, (not sure of the spelling) which has extremely hard wood. Our guide recounted that in his grandparents’ day, a young man had to cut down one of these trees in order to show his manhood.
A very interesting tree is the walking palm, which supposedly can change its position.
This walking palm might have been following Scott and Holly.
I had to walk very slowly on our hike. First, the trail was very muddy and slick in places as well as steep and narrow as it edged around cliffs. But if I spent too much time looking down to check my steps, I’d miss a ravishingly beautiful flower.
Orchids – Tiny, Delicate and Rare
As promised several blogs ago, here are finally some pictures of the lovely and rare orchids we found on our hike.
Scaphosepalum orchids, with tiny yellow and brown spotted leaves and a yellow “Mandarin mustache.”
Two more beautiful orchids. This one is of the Dracula family of orchids.
Large orchids growing near the Los Cedros dining room.
Unusual Flowers at Los Cedros
These red trumpet-shaped flowers with large textured green leaves grow along the trails. They are called kitensi.
Holly capturing the beauty of an exotic red flower.
Other Interesting Shots
Boroco, a round green fruit shaped like a pomegranate.
This bird is a mascarado.
Jose’s first house at Los Cedros, now in ruins.
The mule ride back to Magdalena Alto where we had left the Toyota.
We say goodbye to the Intag.
The end of our trip and return to civilization.
There will be another Los Cedros blog next week of strange plants I photographed in and near the reserve.