The Cloud Forest
Cloud forests, correctly termed pre-montane/subtropical rain forests, cloak the steep slopes of the Andes from about 900 meters to about 2500 meters. They are forests of high biodiversity, with a profusion of little-studied wildlife and plants.
Bellavista is at the southern edge of the species-rich Choco/Andean region, that stretches from south western Colombia to northwestern Ecuador. And equally important, Bellavista is part of the Mindo Area of International Importance for Birds, the first area so designated in South America, by Birdlife International in 1997.
Within this enchanting green kingdom, a profusion of life awaits your discovery, including botanical treasures such as bromeliads and orchids, as well as the fascinating plant families of Gesneriaceae and Melastomataceae. Since Bellavista is located on the equator, flowers are in bloom year round.
Birders and nature lovers alike thrill to the sight of brightly coloured tanagers and the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, and everybody loves to spend time just admiring the multitude of hummingbirds hovering around our feeders in front of the Trogon´s Lounge! A cup of coffee or a nice long drink gazing at hummingbirds sound nice?
Bellavista's resident mammals include the endangered Spectacled Bear, (recently photographed by one of our "Camera Traps"), as well as the Mountain Lion, the Andean Coati, Kinkajoo, the Tayra (Giant Weasel) , and of course the newly discovered Olinguito!
Conservation & Bellavista Reserve
Bellavista Reserve is a founding member of the Network of Private Protected Forests of Ecuador, and collaborates with local conservation organizations, working to preserve the cloud forest of Northwestern Ecuador for the unique and fascinating species that live there, and for educational, recreational and scientific purposes. The wonderful news is that many Ecuadorians are becoming more aware of the importance of their unique natural heritage and are increasingly concerned about its conservation. Our work as a Reserve is to help protect this amazing ecosystem and all the species that are part of it. Recent efforts include being actively involved in the "Corridor of the Spectacled Bear" - a conservation effort directed towards education about the edology and needs of the Spectacled Bear, and conservation of its habitat in our northwestern Pichincha region.
The Andean Choco of PIchincha, where Bellavista is located, was declared as Ecuador´s newest Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, in July 2018. The region is incredibly rich in wildlife, with some 270 species of mammals, 210 reptiles, over 500 species of birds and 130 amphibians. Bellavista´s 700 hectare (2000 acre) reserve is itself home to the Spectacled Bear, the Olinguito (only discovered to science in 2013) and birds such as the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Ocellated Tapaculo, White-faced Nunbird, Gorgeted Sunangel and Violet-tailed Sylph Hummingbirds, not to mention lots of orchids, and moths including the Noctuidae family, of which 70 new species were discovered in 2015 /2016! The high biodiversity and endemism of the cloud forest, along with that of the Amazon and the Galapagos, make Ecuador a BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT. Moreover, the declaration of our immediate region as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is also due to the strong ongoing efforts towards conservation, sustainable tourism, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable development projects within our region.
Orchids (Orchidaceae) are among the most admired plants in the world due to their elegant and beautiful shapes, and also because of their colours, and their usually delightful fragrance. Their greatest diversity is found in the eastern and western tropical and subtropical zones of Ecuador.
The great majority of orchids live on trees, as epiphytes, where they can comfortably receive heat, light and moist tropical air, hence their profusion in the cloud forest where the frequent mists keep the trees humid; others prefer rocks semi-covered with moss, while other orchids choose to grow at ground level, often under the shade of a big tree.
World-wide, it is calculated that about one in every ten species of plants is an orchid. Here in Ecuador, about one out of every four plants is an orchid! Ecuador has some 4200 species of orchids, but this may be a low estimate. World-wide, there are something between 30.000 and 35.000 species. About 800 new species of orchids are said to be discovered every year!!
Guided Hikes & Excursions in our Reserve
1.- Bellavista has a web of about 20 trails.
2.- None of the trails are totally flat, however there are a few very easy trails to hike.
3.- Moderate hikes demand little effort for climbing short slopes and going down natural steps.
4.- Difficult trails demand extensive physical efforts (for knees / legs / feet) although for short periods of time.
5.- For all hikes throughout the year, Bellavista provides the option of rubber boots, at no extra cost. All sizes available up to 47 (14 US). Usually not necessary though!
6.- Our guides will always provide a thorough briefing before each hike.
If you feel you don’t belong to this group of hikers, you are welcome to ask your guide for a softer or harder hike.
7.- You are welcome to hike our trails on your own too. Basic maps are provided at the lodge.
8.- Each guide will usually take a maximum of 8 hikers on each group.
9.- We have three hikes each day (06h15 – 09h30 – 15h00). Normally these hikes are shared with more people.
10.- All guided hikes are offered in English or Spanish. Other languages on request (extra cost)
We offer half day / full day and longer excursions (birding, natural history, adventure) to various attractions and different elevations within the northwestern region, sometimes elsewhere.