The Mindo Cloud Forest is a forest area located on the pacific side of the western range of the Andes. It is at an altitude of 1,000 m (3,300 ft) to 1,500 m (4,920 ft). It is usually in the clouds that form along the Andes mountains from the moisture coming from the Pacific. When I went there, it was mostly cloud free, at least for the first part of my visit. The clouds later started to move in. Because of the constant cloud cover, there is lots of water in the cloud forest with streams and waterfalls everywhere. Part of my trip were visits to an orchid museum and a feeding station for hummingbirds.

There are lots of interesting plants in the cloud forest, many orchids, bromeliads, and heliconias. In one area, the road was surrounded by thousands of large orchids. It was quite a show. The most fascinating part was the hummingbird feeding station. I took some nice close-up pictures of the feeding hummingbirds. There were hundreds of them from many different species.

The trip to Cotopaxi showed a completely different flora than the cloud forest. We drove up the road into the Parque National Cotopaxi, all the way to the end of the road most of the way up the side of Cotopaxi. The end of the road is at an altitude of 4,600 m (15,090 ft). This was the highest elevation that I have been on land, slightly higher than Mauna Kea, Hawaii. I did not do anything there, just looked around from the car. Just getting out of the car would have been too much, since I was not accustomed to the thin air up there. Just 200 m (660 ft) lower, I had no problem with walking around to take pictures, but any extra effort rendered me breathless, not from awe about the scenery but from lack of air  :-). Unfortunately we were in the clouds all the way to the highest point of the road, so I didn't see the mountain. I did see it during the flight from Quito to the Galápagos islands.

The drive up the road to Cotopaxi starts from the fertile central valley. Pretty soon we were above the tree line in the Andean páramo and saw the alpine type of vegetation characteristic of the higher Andes. The vegetation becomes more and more alpine. At the higher elevations plans with thick, leathery leaves start to dominate. At the very top only lichens are growing. One of the more impressive plants is the Flower of the Andes.

I didn't see many animals during the visit to Cotopaxi. In order to see wildlife, you have to be hiking, not driving. Hiking in the high Andes needs to be planned well, and cannot be done during a short, three day visit. You really need time to get used to the high altitudes.

If you know the name of any of the plants or animals for which I don't have a name, I would appreciate it if you would send me that name to email me

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Typical View Mindo
Typical view of the Mindo Cloud Forest (without clouds though). The Silver Tree (Yaruma) (Cecropia palmata, german: Ameisenbäume) really stands out. It has bright silvery leaves that makes it very conspicuous. (1223k)
Waterfall Cloud Forest
A waterfall in the cloud forest. Water is plentiful here. (1011k)
More Typical View
A more typical view of the cloud forest with the clouds. (616k)
Cloud Forest
In the cloud forest. (1190k)
Bromeliads Airplants Tree
Bromeliads (Airplants) in a tree, Tillandsia sp. (german: Tillandsien), possibly (Tillandsia hamaleana, german: Tillandsien). (933k)
Bromeliads Tree
Bromeliads on a tree. (594k)
Fern Polypodium Sp
A Fern (Polypodium sp., german: Tüpfelfarne). (1026k)
Fern Polypodium Sp
This Fern (Polypodium sp., german: Tüpfelfarne) has spores on the underside of the leaves. (564k)
Succulent Plant
A succulent plant. (820k)
Anthurium Anthurium Sp
Anthurium (Anthurium sp., german: Flamingoblumen). (719k)
Tropical Plant Probably
Tropical plant, probably Xanthosoma sp.). (1010k)
Old Leaf Plant
An old leaf of a plant called Pumamaqui, eaten away by insects. (951k)
Agave Sp German
Agave sp. (german: Agaven). (1281k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (545k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (584k)
Fuchsia Fuchsia Sp
Fuchsia (Fuchsia sp., german: Fuchsien). (386k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (472k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (384k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (876k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (403k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (611k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (791k)
Terrestrial Orchid Elleanthus
A terrestrial Orchid (Elleanthus robustus). (534k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (463k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (524k)
Fruiting Body Anthurium
Fruiting body of an Anthurium. (595k)
Heliconia Sp
Heliconia sp. (461k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (427k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (429k)
Tropical Plant Possibly
Tropical plant possibly (Pitcairnia nigra), a type of bromeliad. (555k)
Type Bromeliad Guzmania
A type of bromeliad (Guzmania melinonis). (462k)
Orchids. (553k)
Orchid Cattleya Sp
Orchid (Cattleya sp.). (488k)
Orchid Paphiopedilum Sp
Orchid (Paphiopedilum sp.). (467k)
Orchid Either Masdevallia
Orchid (either Masdevallia sp.) or Dracula sp. (german: Dracula)). (402k)
Orchid Pleurothallis Sp
Orchid (Pleurothallis sp.). (471k)
Orchid. (529k)
Orchid. (449k)
Bucket Orchid Probably
Bucket Orchid (probably Stanhopea sp.)). (508k)
Heliconia Flower
Heliconia flower. (594k)
Banana Flower Fruits
Banana flower and fruits. (646k)
Butterfly. (531k)
Little Lizard
A little lizard. (493k)


Valley Bottom Flank
Valley on the bottom flank of Cotopaxi. (698k)
View Cotopaxi Clouds
View of Cotopaxi through the clouds. (328k)
View Cotopaxi Across
View from Cotopaxi across the páramo, the high plain. The plain is at an altitude of about 3,000 m (9,800 ft). (460k)
View Páramo High
View of the páramo, the high plain north of Cotopaxi. (592k)
Vegetation Around 4000 m
Vegetation at around 4,000 m (13,100 ft) altitude on Cotopaxi. Mostly grass and some wildflowers grow here. (766k)
Vegetation Around 4600 m
Vegetation at around 4,600 m (15,090 ft) altitude on Cotopaxi. There is not much growing at that altitude. (554k)
Cotopaxi Air
Cotopaxi from the air. (329k)
Cotopaxi Air
Cotopaxi from the air. (354k)
Second Largest Volcano
The second largest volcano, Cotacachi, from the ground. (664k)
Cotacachi Air Reaching
Cotacachi from the air, reaching above a cloud layer. (386k)
Cotopaxi Air Reaching
Cotopaxi from the air, reaching above a cloud layer. (386k)
Both Cotopaxi Right
Both Cotopaxi (on the right), and Cotacachi above the clouds. (443k)
Flowering Shrub Bomarea
Flowering shrub (Bomarea multiflora). (502k)
Shrub Loricaria Thuyoides
Shrub (Loricaria thuyoides). (430k)
Wildflower. (374k)
Chocho Del Páramo
Chocho del Páramo, Lupine (Lupinus pubescens). (387k)
Chocho Del Páramo
Chocho del Páramo. (678k)
Hercules' Club Puya
Hercules' Club Puya (Puya clava-herculis). (1195k)
Alpine Plant
Alpine plant. (1126k)
Cacho De Venado
Cacho de Venado, Deer's Antlers (Halenia weddelliana). (447k)
Horsetail Equisetum Sp
Horsetail (Equisetum sp., german: Schachtelhalme). (550k)
Alpine Plant
Alpine plant. (744k)
Chikku Chikku Or
Chikku Chikku or Cat's Ear (Hypochaeris sessiliflora). (520k)
Alpine Plant
Alpine plant. (478k)
Pajonales Del Páramo
Pajonales del páramo, Peruvian Feather Grass (Jarava ichu, french: Paja brava). This type of grass was used to cover the huts in one of the previous images. (928k)
Lancetilla Del Páramo
Lancetilla del Páramo (Castilleja pumila). (615k)
Lancetilla Del Páramo
Lancetilla del Páramo. (383k)
Flower Bidens Triplinervia
Flower (Bidens triplinervia). (379k)
Bog Plant Plantago
Bog Plant (Plantago rigida). (870k)
Alpine Plant Lasiocephalus
Alpine Plant (Lasiocephalus ovatus). (403k)
Alpine Plant Lasiocephalus
Alpine Plant (Lasiocephalus ovatus). (480k)
Alpine Plant Lasiocephalus
Alpine Plant (Lasiocephalus ovatus). (388k)
Chuquiraga Flower Andes
Chuquiraga, Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui). (442k)
Flower Andes
The Flower of the Andes. (548k)
Flower Andes
The Flower of the Andes. (433k)
Lichens. (1188k)
Alpine Plant Senecio
Alpine Plant (Senecio nivalis). (519k)
Alpine Wildflower
Alpine wildflower. (467k)
Club Moss Phlegmariurus
Club Moss (Phlegmariurus crassus). (585k)
Fern. (615k)

This page contains 83 pictures with 32 species

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Page last updated on Wed Oct 16 11:39:45 2019 (Mountain Standard Time)

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