What To Expect When You Travel to the Andean Cloud Forest
There’s a place in the highlands of Ecuador where the sky and the mountains seem to overlap, it’s called the Andean Cloud Forest.
This extraordinary ecosystem has one of the most impressive diversity of flora and fauna on planet Earth and it’s almost permanently covered by clouds.
Do you want to know the best part? You can visit it!
Keep reading to discover the amazing world of the Andean Cloud Forest, where it’s located, and which species of plants and animals live there. You will also learn Spanish biodiversity vocabulary, how to get there, and when it is the best time to go.
What Is a Cloud Forest?
Cloud forests are tropical or subtropical, “evergreen, montane, moits forest” with a frequent low-level cloud cover. They’re also called water forests, mossy forests, tropical montane cloud forest, or primas forest.
Today, only 1% of the forests of the world are cloud forests. The World Conservation Monitoring Centre has identified 736 cloud forests distributed in 59 different countries.
Where is the Andean Cloud Forest?
The Andean Cloud Forest covers a large part of Ecuador’s highlands, and extends to sections of Peru and Colombia too. It stands in lands with a minimum of 2,000 ft (610 m) of altitude and may go up to 12,000 ft (3,658 m).
Conservationists consider it one of the most “diverse, fragile, and complex cloud forests on earth” and, as such, an ecosystem that’s crucial to protect due to it’s extraordinary biodiversity.
A Place of Extraordinary Biodiversity
The Andean Cloud Forest is included in the Top 10 Hotspot for Biodiversity in the World. The cycle of water vapor from the Amazon, rising and hitting the Andes where it cools down, condensates and creates new clouds repeats over and over, producing the ideal conditions for an explosion of biodiversity rarely seen in the world.
Cloud forests are recognized for being home to most of the world’s orchid species. Only in Ecuador there are more than 4,000 species, 1,300 of them endemic to the Andean Cloud Forest. This extraordinary ecosystem also hosts over 300 species of birds, and a wide diversity of glass frog species.
The Andean Cloud Forest is particularly impressive because it hosts a stunningly high number of species packed in a relatively small area. As a result of this, you can find up to ten times more mammal species and twice as many bird species than in an area of similar extension in the Amazon.
Biodiversity Vocabulary in Spanish
Let’s make the most of the opportunity to find out about the Andean Cloud Forest, to also learn some useful biodiversity vocabulary in Spanish.
Plant Diversity of an Andean Cloud Forest
Cloud forests provide the perfect conditions for plants that grow and live on other plants, instead of being rooted in the ground. These plants are called epiphytes, and the most famous of them are the orchids.
Other types of epiphytes include bromeliads, aroids, lianas, and ferns, which are also common in it, just as a wide variety of tree species including contemporary pines, eucalypts, and cedar, among many others.
Flora in the Andean Cloud Forest
Animals Found in the Andean Cloud Forest
Among the animals who inhabit the Andean Cloud Forest, you can find hummingbirds, toucans, long-wattled umbrella birds, and the Andean cock-of-the-rock, which is the national bird of Peru as well as one of the rarest species of the forest.
Among the mammals the Andean Cloud Forest is home to, you can find the spectacled bear, the mountain tapir, and the yellow-tailed wooly monkey. Interestingly, less than a decade ago a new species of mammal was discovered in the Andean Cloud Forest called the olinguito.
Other spectacular wildlife species based in Ecuador’s cloud forest include the labiated rainfrog, the tortoise beetle, the tettigoniidae grasshopper, and the giant snail.
Fauna in the Andean Cloud Forest
|Andean cock-of-the-rock||el gallito de las rocas peruano|
|long-wattled umbrella bird||el paragüero corbatudo|
|mountain tapir||el tapir andino|
|spectacled bear||el oso de anteojos|
|yellow-tailed wooly monkey||el mono choro de cola amarilla|
What To Do in the Andean Cloud Forest?
Travelling across the Andean Cloud Forest isn’t quite an option since there isn’t any infrastructure, and nature is just too exuberant to go in there by yourself. However, there are lodges located deep in the forest that you can visit.
These lodges offer an eco-friendly experience and professional guides to explore the biome, go on birdwatching tours, visit observation platforms, ascend to canopy towers, and go on walking explorations. There’s even a “skybike” that takes you through different canopy layers!
How To Get There?
Once you have chosen your lodge, you have to fly to Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito. From there, depending on the location of your lodge, different transportation services will be available. For example, the Mashpi lodge picks you up at your hotel and takes you on a three-hour-and-a-half drive to the heart of the cloud forest.
When To Go?
You can expect rain all year round. However, the slightly drier season takes place between June and September.
During those months, you still get a lot of mist in the early mornings, and clouds and rain in the evenings. However, you also get some sunshine by mid-morning, which is the best time for your birdwatching explorations.
Where Can You Buy Tickets?
Another option is to get in touch with the lodges of your choice and arrange your trip with them.
Here are some of them.
Discover the Andean Cloud Forest in Ecuador and Practice Your Spanish
Visiting the Andean Cloud Forest is a unique experience that takes you closer to the spectacular biodiversity of this Latin American region. Learning Spanish beforehand will make your trip easier as you’ll be able to communicate with the locals during your stay at the lodge, and also during the all-important lodge arrangements, such as at the airport and at your hotel in Quito, Ecuador.
Sign up for a free class to practice your Spanish before your trip to Ecuador. Choose one of our native certified Spanish teachers from Guatemala who teach over 24,000 actively enrolled students every month and offer flexible schedules and tailored Spanish packages.
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