Our first stop was up in the Mindo Cloud Forest as we crossed the Andes from Quito headed for the North West corner of Ecuador. Rodrigo, who we met in Quito, had told us about an eco-lodge called the Bella Vista. He hadn’t mentioned that getting to it involves a 17 Km (10 mile) drive on very rough dirt road, climbing 3,000 feet. Sparky got to pretend it had 4 wheel drive, but it was worth it.
Perched on the mountainside we found a cluster of bamboo buildings, and oodles of hummingbirds. They were everywhere, and their buzzing filled our ears. Bella Vista is a privately owned nature preserve of several thousand acres of jungle. We went for a walk on one of the trails by ourselves, and then took a walk with Nelson, one of their naturalists. What a difference! Nelson could see and hear a huge variety of birds, and tell us about the plants, all around us. One of the most interesting things was a mammal
which was just identified to be a new species after 17 years of research. The olinquito is nocturnal, so we sat in the dark, on a platform high in the trees, waiting for an olinquito to take the banana bait. Char stayed up after the rest of us had quit, and she got some great shots.