Our favourite place so far!
Trip Start May 01, 2010
90Trip End Apr 30, 2011
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Where I stayed
We have already seen some amazing places on our travels but Santa Lucia is definitely our favourite so far
The journey to Santa Lucia involved a two hour bus journey from Quito to Nanegal, a small highland town. From here we were met by staff from the lodge who drove us for another 40 minutes down a bumpy dirt track to the trailhead. Here our luggage was loaded onto mules and we hiked up through the cloud forest for two hours. It was tough going but it was a pleasure to be in the forest and we saw a plate-billed mountain toucan, a crimson-rumped toucanet, a toucan barbet and a golden-crested quetzal! When we reached the lodge, it was midday and the cloud had descended as it does every afternoon, giving the whole place an ethereal feel
On our first and second day, we were guided by the wonderful Fransisco ‘Pancho’ Molina, a farmer turned conservationist. Being mountainous, the walking is hard but thankfully the elevation means that the temperature is nice and cool. On our second day, we hiked to a series of towering waterfalls, spilling down through the greenery, and went for a very bracing swim in the river! During the afternoon, we sat outside on a bench next to the lodge watching hummingbirds, including the violet-tailed sylph and the booted racket-tail, tiny, exquisite birds with shimmering colours and long tails.
The morning of the third day, we set off at 4am with another guide, Mauricio, to see the cock-of-the-rock lek, a group courtship dance. The lek site was a two-hour hike away so with torches in hand and much slipping and sliding, we eventually reached the right place just before sunrise. We sat down on a wet bench and waited expectantly in the darkness. First we heard a call from one bird, a loud squawk, followed by another and another. Gradually more and more males joined in until we were surrounded by a cacophony of sound. As the dawn sky grew lighter we were able to see the birds themselves in the undergrowth just metres away
We were truly sad to leave the Santa Lucia this morning. The reserve is a natural paradise, the lodge itself is cosy and a fine example of sustainable living and the staff are warm and welcoming, making us feel at home and keeping our bellies full with wholesome, tasty food! If anyone reading this blog is considering visiting Ecuador, then we wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Santa Lucia!