Ecuador’s cloud forest among the best places to visit

Moraspungo is part of Pululahua’s Geobotanical Reserve and a perfect place to learn about the benefits and wide biodiversity of cloud forests. Photo: Micaela Ayala V./Andes

Quito, Jan 4 (Andes).- The could forest of Quito’s Metropolitan District (DMQ) has been included on the list of the 21 best places in the world to visit in 2017, after being chosen by National Geographic’s Traveler magazine.

According to the publication, the cloud forest, located north of Quito, is one of the places with the richest depositories of plant and animal life on the planet since it is home to epiphytes and rare orchids as well as hundreds of bird species and the teddy-bear faced olinguito, identified in 2013 as one of the recent mammal species in the Americas.

Quito’s northwest side is part of the two biodiverse regions on the planet: the biogeographic region of Chocó and Andes Tropicales, characterized by its rich biodiversity and endemism.

It is called a cloud forest because of the presence of fog coming out of the Earth and crushing into the mountains. Hence the high amount of humidity in the place located at between 1.500 and 3.000 meters high. This and other conditions such as a low solar intensity and mountain slopes have created a very rich and diverse ecosystem where you can see a variety of plants on trees including moss, racinaea pseudotetrantha, fern, anthurium, bromelia and especially orchids.

In DMQ’s 4.230 square kilometers, 400 orchid species have been identified so far which means that more than 10 percent of species registered in the country are located in the cloud forest.

A variety of bird species are found in this cloud forest. Photo: Micaela Ayala V./Andes

It is a widely exploited ecosystem because of its great amount and variety of tree wood like Cinnamon, myrtle, weinmannia pinnata, guava, avocado, walnut, alder, cedar, Cecropia peltata, lime. Many of the fruits we eat are grown in this cloud forest including guava, guaba, berries, cherries, among others.

It is also home to many bird species especially hummingbirds, insects of all kinds and other animals that go from small marsupial frogs to big mammals like spectacled bears because of its great variety of flowers and fruits endless organisms get to eat.

Quito has the largest number of hummingbird species. From the 132 reported in the country, 54 species are found in the Ecuadorian capital. Therefore, it has become a tourist destination for birders from all nations.

Yanacocha Reserve, located past Nono village, has a hummingbird sanctuary where you can easily watch them. In Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve and Yunguilla Reserve people can also see hundreds of birds, orchids and animal species unique to the cloud forest. 

Traveler magazine included Ecuador’s cloud forest on its list of must-see places for 2017. Photo: Quito’s Municipality

Moreover, this is a place where you can find spectacle bears or Andean bear. On July 11, 2013, Quito’s Municipality declared that about 64.554 hectares were part of the Ecological Corridor of the Andean bear. To date, more than 60 specimens have been reported, a number that will increase once studies of the population cover the majority of the corridor area.

This area, known as a priority for conservation in Ecuador, has a large water system whose micro-basins have adequate conditions for its use and local consumption and provides fresh water used by neighborhoods in northern Quito.

According to a statement from the Municipality, the city’s recognition as one of the cities with largest natural heritage and its inclusion among the most important capitals for tourism is because of its forests conditions, biodiversity and agroforest systems in its rural villages.

In Quito’s cloud forest you will find the mountains’ natural abundance like moss, ferns, and other species that adorn the environment. Photo: Micaela Ayala V./Andes