Can I tell you about a very special day, my 65th birthday? We had booked our second trip with Llama Travel having previously enjoyed a holiday in Peru & Machu Piccu. This time was to be Ecuador & the Galapagos. I wanted it to be special so booked a two day (one night) trip to the Bellavista Reserve to enjoy some bird life, especially the hummingbirds, and flora. This is my story of the trip.
An early start
Ecuador has 12 hours of sunlight so an early start is a given. We were picked up, sleepy eyed, at 6am by a polite and efficient driver who stowed our overnight bag and introduced us to the other couple in the minibus. It’s a fair old journey and it was pretty bumpy for the last hour or so when we left the main road and started on the forest track but, we arrived safely at the lodge in time for a badly needed breakfast.
A forest haven
The Bellavista is in a cloud forest so don’t expect opulence and luxury after all, this is a forest lodge. However, the rooms were large and comfortable and the views, breathtaking. We got unpacked and got back to the group.
Juan Carlos who was to be our guide while we were there, was waiting for us. He explained the “do’s and don’ts” of forest walking and what we should expect. He went on to suggest things to bring, things we would need and straight away took us to the hummingbird feeders. I could have spent hours watching these lovely little birds but Juan Carlos promised that there were other wonderful things waiting. Time to go!
So much to see
It was just brilliant! Juan Carlos would walk along and point to things, interesting things, some plants, some insects, many birds and he knew all about each one. We’d stop, crouch, stretch, listen and watch. It was non-stop and the time just flew past. After our lunch he said he had another route he wanted to show us so we walked again in the afternoon and saw some truly magnificent views over the cloud forest. I even seem to remember the sun coming out! Well, it is a cloud forest so don’t expect too much sunshine.
Dusk came at 6pm to we freshened up and got ready for our dinner. Yes, they do sell beer so I was able to wash our meal down with a bit of Ecuadorian ale.
An unexpected highlight
Juan Carlos came back (I had promised him a beer) and he started showing us some of the night time animals and insects that are in the forest. There was a commotion in the trees and some tree climbing animals (the name of which I can’t remember) had taken some bananas from the kitchen and were busy screeching around whilst the poor old chef was chasing them. Juan Carlos took us for a brief night-time walk around the Reserve grounds with a flashlight and we saw yet more creatures of the night.
Then the bad news!
He told us; we must be ready to meet next day at 5.30am before it gets light. What? On my birthday, don’t I get a lie in? No chance! So we were there on the dot and my goodness, was it worth it. I have never seen so many birds of all shapes and sizes, colours and calls. Juan Carlos knew every one and was busy pointing them out to us. Hummingbirds even landed on my head!
It was two hours of my life I will never forget and when it was breakfast time at 8am, I was sad to leave these wonderful little birds but, there was still another forest walk to do.
A final walk and more surprises
Juan Carlos found yet another trail and after a short while pointed to the top of a tree. A toucan! He had a telescope and quickly put it on a stand so we could all see clearly. We even took photos using it.
After lunch we had to say our farewells. I was particularly appreciative of Juan Carlos who was just a perfect guide and host. His enthusiasm and expert knowledge made it a truly special birthday treat I’ll never forget.
The minibus took us back to Quito but still managed to call in to another hummingbird sanctuary on the route back, one last opportunity to see these lovely little fellows.
A 10/10 trip? Definitely. Why?
- Everything went as clockwork from hotel pickup to next day return.
- The Bellavista was a perfect place to see hummingbirds, other exotic birds and wildlife. I have never seen so many beautiful birds
- The staff at the Reserve were really efficient, friendly and accommodating.
- The food and accommodation was to a high standard.
- The guides were just brilliant.
Thank you to our lovely customer John for providing such a wonderful account of your holiday to Ecuador with Llama Travel!