Saturday, July 17, 2010

park bus park bus park bus

A series of long bus rides punctuated by a stop in Bahia de Cariquez to catch the world cup finals brought me to Cuenca where I successfully encountered "Mike," (the Danish birdwatcher who had beena volunteer at Bilsa).

We immediately left for nearby Cajas National Park.

It was gorgeous and had its share of interesting birds despite the rather srubby and windswept habitat. On our way it a thunderstorm came out of nowhere and pelted up with sleet/hail? Whatever it was, we went from being very hot to very cold in a matter of seconds.

We thought about harvesting some wool from this llama (or is it an alpaca? - I´m better with birds than mammals)

Next another quick 5 hour bus ride to Loja where we hiked around a park owned by the local University. Thanks to some tainted peanutbutter, I lost my breakfast and lunch (unbeliveably, my first throw up in Ecuador!) on the way up to this peak overlooking Loja.

On to Zamora, but we broke up this bus ride with a stop at Arcoiris Cloud Forest Reserve, part of Podocarpus National Park. The place was deserted, which was fine with me, because that meant nobody to collect money and free access to trails.

Zamora is probably my favorite town in Ecuador. We ended up staying at this inexplicably inexpensive hotel with an awesome roof deck that yielded great views of the town´s immense clock imbedded in the hillside.

(it says, "Zamora, Ciudad de aves y cascadas")

From here we went to (where else) another national park. Actually it was still Podocarpus, but a different section at much lower elevation than Arcoiris (900 meters vs. 2100) meaning different climate, ecology and wildlife. We didn´t find exceptional numbers of birds, which I blame on this white-faced capuchin monkey that followed us around for the better part of an hour shaking branches at us and no doubt scaring away all sorts of birds that consequently remain unknown to science.

We doubled back to loja and parted ways. "Mike" directly south to Piura, Peru on a mad 7'day mission to some remote volunteer outpost in Bolivia and myself on to, yes, another park. Though this one gets special mention as it is the largest petrified forest in South America. The significance of this claim is not really clear since the petrified trees don´t actually form a forest...they are mearly fossilized remains of what was once a forest some hundred million years ago. There is of course a new forest growing over the fallen ancients that has some impressively thick and presumably quite old bottle-shaped green Ceiba trees.

Today I crossed into Peru and I am already missing Ecuadors busses and national parks. There are supposedly some well-protected reserves near Tumbes, but they are apparently rather inaccessible without arranging a private tour with an agency. As a single traveller this is costly and apparently alltogether impossible to arrange on a Sunday. So I will probably forego the entire region and dive right into some more long bus rides down to Lima.

More Buses and more national parks!

1 comment:

BobDad said...

Did the capuchin monkey attack the bus? It doesn't look like anything I would want to try to take.