Category: Ecuador, 2015

Riding Above the Trees

June 22.

This morning is a change of pace, moving from just birdwatching to exploration of nature more generally.

We start with about a 10-minute walk to a place where you can zip line on a wire above the trees over a portion of the forest. You are fastened into a harness, which is attached to the wire, step off the edge and zip to the other side. Carol is ambivalent, but after I go, she agrees to do it behind Josue, which is why you can’t see her in the photos. I decide I’ll do my Tarzan act swinging out and back over an open area, holding onto a rope, but there is no way Carol is going to play Jane. She does have video of me, though, which I’m planning to send to studios who may need a senior citizen Tarzan. 

  We then walk back about an hour through, beautiful, cool tropical forest. The few photos don’t do it justice. There are ups and downs along slippery muddy dirt and rocks. I don’t do well on the way down on slippery muddy dirt and rocks, but fortunately had Josue to assist, or I would now be wearing very muddy jeans, perhaps in a hospital bed. I don’t plan to do anything like that again for a good, long time; maybe never. 

         Okay, it’s not that we’ve given up birdwatching entirely. Both before and after our nature exploration, we spend time seeing some great birds around the lodge. Here are some examples. 

                            Okay, do there’s a squirrel.  Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Before lunch at the lodge, Josue gives us a comprehensive, but concise overview of the geography of Ecudaor, including both where we’ve been and where we’re headed, on a large map at the lodge. After lunch, we chat briefly with Luis and Sylvia, who have gone off on their own birding adventure this morning, then say goodbye to them, as they are staying on. We’ve exchanged contact information, and may well stay in touch. We drive into Mindo to look at shops, and spend maybe five minutes there, a waste of a half hour drive to and from Mindo.

Returning to the lodge, we pack up the truck. (I should admit that “we” is an overstatement, as Josue, sometimes assisted by lodge personnel, has packed and unpacked us, including taking bags to and from all the lodges. C’mon, give us a break. We’re old, I mean we’ve been married for over fifty years.). We head from our lodge up the mountain on a very bumpy road, moving from the tropical forest back up to the Bellavista Cloud Forest, with it’s cooler and thinner air. We stop a few times to spot birds, with only modest success. It’s a whole lot easier to find them around the lodges than it is in the forests.

We check in to the Bellavista Lodge, where we have a large second-floor room in a separate building. There is a patio around the room and it feels like we’re living in a treehouse; it’s modest, but funky, and we like it. We have a couple hours to relax before dinner.

Dinner with Josue is quite acceptable. As we complete our dinner somebody comes in to ask if we want to come try to see an Olingo. Of course we do. What’s an Olingo? A rare animal, sort of looks like a combination of animals, including a wombat, a lemur and depending on your imagination, a bunch of other animals. A new species of Olingo has been identified recently, so, as you would expect, there’s quite a bit of excitement about that.

Anyway, we troop out to an area and dutifully look up into the trees. Nothing. A bunch of bananas has been placed up in a tree. Our patience is rewarded, and, eventually, the Olingo shows up. Here are my best two Olingo shots (of probably twenty-five or more). Good night now, and enjoy the Olingos. (When we get up to our room, we discover that we could have benefited from the services of an entomologist to help identify the co-occupants of our room. Oh, well, it’s only one night.) 


2 comments to Riding Above the Trees

  • Great bird photos, Arn! Wonderfully defined and so richly colorful.

    As for the zipper trip– suspended in mid-air over trees– well, guess, someone’s gotta do it! Good for you. And Carol’s video will make you an instant contestant for America’s Got Talent!

    FYI– spotted the squirrel immediately!

    See you fell for the wanna-see-an-Olinger scam. Be
    sure to check your pockets for missing money etc.

    Savor the last moments your awesome
    anniversary trip.

    Love, Barbara

  • Wendy

    You guys are nuts! Could we focus on birds and olingers from here on out and try to stay clear of zip lines and muddy, rocky slopes for, say, forever?

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