To the west of the Andes, the mountains descend to the Pacific, becoming covered by cloud forests of stunted trees cloaked in a profusion of mosses, bromeliads, orchids and lichens. Thought to have the highest diversity of epiphytic plants in the world, the region is recognised as one of the worlds’ biodiversity hotspots. Mammal sightings are rare but can include spectacled bear, puma, mountain tapir, Andean coati and tayra. Birds dominate, with over 30 species of hummingbird, the rare plate-billed mountain toucan and a number of leks where the brightly coloured cock-of-the-rock displays to females. Each valley has a subtly different microclimate favouring particular species: Mindo, known for cock-of-the-rock sightings, has long been a favourite of birdwatchers; Tandayapa and Bellavista valleys have private cloud forest reserves, good accommodation and superb birdwatching along a comprehensive networks of trails.
Highlights of Ecuador
Cloud Forest Reserves