Today we visited an area of cloud forest called the Mindo-Nambillo Reserve. The reserve boasts over 47,000 acres of protected land, stretching from the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano and covering diverse ecosystems ranging from a treeless plateau through to subtropical forest.
It's a spectacular drive from Quito. The vegetation varies according to altitude, and on occasions we seem to be driving in the clouds, while at other times we enjoy clear far reaching views.
The small town of Mindo has become the centre of visitor activities in the area and is particularly well known for bird watching. Its here we decide to take a short walk along an unpaved road with bird-friendly habitat on both sides. Being late morning it's not the ideal time for bird activity but we manage to spot a few interesting birds and our guide, Juan Carlos, helps with the identification. At the end of our walk we visit a butterfly and hummingbird centre called Hosteria Mariposas de Mindo. Here we see some amazing butterflies and some amazing hummingbirds! We try our best to take photos of hummingbirds in action but they are pretty quick movers. 9 out of 10 photos are bird feeders without birds! Thank goodness we're digital and can press a delete button. However, the 10th picture is well worth all the effort.
After lunch we start our journey home to Quito. Along the unpaved road we drive across a small stream. Johnny our coach driver does a great job but shortly afterwards hears a stone stuck in one of the coach tyres. We stop to investigate only to find a fairly large rock wedged between two of the rear tyres. After considerable effort we end up taking a wheel off to release the offending item. Our guests seem very interested in the whole process and many more photographs are taken. Our thanks to Paul (chief assistant mechanic), to Paul and David (traffic control), to our guides Juan Carlos and Pablo, and especially to our driver Johnny. Richard has kept the rock as a souvenir, although it exceeds the airline luggage weight allowance on it's own!