A new biodiversity reserve in the Mindo cloud forests of Ecuador is home to spectacular flora and fauna – and a cool, minimalist eco lodge
In the cloud forests of Ecuador, water is king. It hangs on the moss-covered trees like a thick wet coat. It drips from the canopy in globules on to upturned palm leaves and blades of grass. Its noise is ever present, in rivers and waterfalls, the soft squelch of mud and the torrent of sudden rain. And where this water lands, life springs up erupting everywhere like explosions in slow motion.
In the Mindo cloud forests in the north of the country, moist air from Pacific Ocean clouds trapped on the steep slopes of the Andes has fostered such biodiversity that new species are still regularly being discovered. In this small region alone there are close to 500 varieties of bird, thousands of rare orchids and innumerable other forms of flora and fauna. But this paradise is under constant threat from humans, who have traditionally cleared land for agriculture. In Ecuador alone it is estimated as little as 2% of this Pacific coastal forest remains intact.