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Adventures in the Cloud Forest

October 18, 2010

 

Bromeliad in the mist.

 

Let me start this post by saying that I adore the cloud forest. In my opinion, there are few places in the world that rival the cloud forest in beauty and tranquility. For the last three weeks I have been staying at Wayqecha Biological Reserve at a research station run by the Amazon Conservation Association. The station is located at 2,950 meters elevation and to get to the station, you can either take a bus for around $3.00 or hire a private truck for around $130.00 from Cusco. Despite my typical frugality, I opted for the latter because I have never been on such a scary road. In the olden days (a few years ago), the road was one-way on alternating days (you could venture to Cusco Monday, Wednesday, Friday, etc.). Now, the road is a two-way free-for-all and is reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Parkway in terms of its curves and cliffs. So, at inopportune moments, you meet a large truck flying around a curve and hope that your driver has his wits about him.

I arrived safely a few weeks ago and quickly realized that being in shape in North Carolina is very different from being in shape at altitude. All of the trails either go up or down and some drop over 1200 feet (400 meters) in less than half a mile. For the first three days, I was challenged by the staircase that leads down to the ‘comedor’ or dining hall, but I quickly adjusted to the altitude and only appeared to be having a mild asthma attack after a few switchbacks on the trail.  My days were dictated by the weather. Some mornings brought clear skies and others were foggy beyond belief. On the cloudier days, I worked close to the cabin, ready to dash back with my equipment in the event of a thunderstorm or rainstorm. You are much closer to lightening at 2,950 meters. Each day brought new species of birds, insects, and orchids. The landscape was constantly surprising and I hope I captured some of that wonder in my images. Despite the harrowing road to get there, I would recommend Wayqecha to any outdoor enthusiast.

I am now snug in a hotel in Cuzco sipping coca leaf tea and eating my second piece of chocolate cake. I will post more images tomorrow, along with a few videos and excerpts from my journal.

 

Moth.

 

 

Bromeliad.

 

 

Tree Palm in Mist.

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 4:44 pm

    Gabby,

    Thanks for taking us on this amazing adventure with you…I’m enjoying the ride and looking forward to more!

  2. Connie & Pat permalink
    October 20, 2010 6:37 pm

    Good to know you are still doing well and enjoying the adventure! Autumn is lovely in WNC right now, and like the lady in the broad-brimmed hat and purple sweater, we are also chopping wood. Take Care!

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