Explore the Life Center, Cucharillos waterfall, and take a nocturnal safari
Head to the Howler Monkey Trail for a morning hike through an ancient forest, home to ancient flora and fauna like the famous “copal” tree. While hiking, your local guide will point out whatever wildlife might appear – from colorful birds to elusive howler monkeys. They will explain the ecology of the forest and discuss conservation efforts being made to protect it.
This hike will lead you to the lodge’s Life Center, a research facility focused on the plants and wildlife native to this region. Here, you will study the butterflies of the area by being shown the life cycle of these creatures from eggs to winged wonders. The center is also a place where visitors can disconnect by soaking in the views from the expansive wooden deck or meditate in the nearby gardens full of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain trees, manioc, cacao, hot chili peppers, coffee, and wild raspberries.
When we return to the lodge, take some time to rest or enjoy a relaxing massage or the comfort of the Jacuzzi in the wellness area. At around noon, lunch will be ready; after which you will have time to rest until the afternoon excursion.
After a peaceful few hours, hike along a trail named after the Cucharillo tree. This local Ecuadorian species is threatened due to the value of their timber, so trekking here is a wonderful immersive lesson in sustainability and preservation. While this trail is of moderate difficulty it is well worth it for the views of a large waterfall and rocky riverbed with beautiful ponds and smaller falls at the end.
As the sun starts to go down, the cloud forest begins to transform; the sounds of croaking frogs, the calls of night birds, and the incessant buzz of insects all intensify. And if you turn off your flashlight, you’ll discover sparkling fireflies and sense bats fluttering by. Look carefully on the ground and see the faint glow of bioluminescent fungi (foxfire or fairy fire) scattered on the forest floor. Continuing this nighttime safari, you’re likely to hear rustling in the branches above as raccoon-like “kinkajous” scramble through the trees in search of fruit. Return to the lodge to enjoy a delicious dinner.