I was with a group of 15 who stayed 2 nights at the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve and Lodge, so we were spread out over the three separate accommodation buildings. Everyone loved the rustic nature of the buildings and rooms, while the furnishings, comfortable beds and heavy covers made it all cosy. Of course, up here in the Andes it gets cold at night and some people did use their space heaters. This is a nature preserve and they try to conserve water and electricity, so we got into the spirit of it all with limited use of the heaters and quick showers.
I visited another cloud forest lodge 5 years ago and Bellavista is so much better and cleaner.
Our guide, Jorge, was very knowledgeable about the birds and plants (we only saw one mammal -- a squirrel that hangs around the lodge) as he was about the history of this location. The owners converted a farm back into cloud forest wilderness. Of course, there is very little old growth since farming and forestry took out all of the large trees, but there is a section of the property that still has some old growth forest. The reclaimed land has recovered well and gives you great views of birds and sky as well as a good idea of the development of a forest as it recovers from human desecration.
There are a myriad of paths on which to be guided, and a map if you want to go off on your own to find the waterfalls and other treasures (I have attached the map under photos section).
The food in the pretty dining room (in the geodesic dome building) was ample in quantity and very tasty.
The most intimate birding happens right on the grounds as they have many hummingbird feeders. The hummingbirds are so used to humans that you can get terrific close-ups. It isn't very natural, but great for amateur photographers and videographers. Watch their feathers turn colour as they move their heads towards and away from you.
We only spent one full day there, and I would recommend that to fully relax, you plan to spend at least 3 nights and 2 full days. We had to squeeze 3 hikes in into the one day and that left little time to just chill out. I loved the early morning best, just as the sun came up and before people started to awaken. The birds wake you with their melodious song, the air is cool and fresh as the day really awakens before your eyes.
One advance warning -- the drive ends with 12 kilometres of very rough going. Our driver was terrific and made it as comfortable as possible, but it took about an hour to do this last piece of the trip. The views on the way are spectacular, though.
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- Also Known As:
- Bellavista Cloud Forest Hotel Tandayapa
- Bellavista Cloud Forest Ecuador/Tandayapa