Since my first encounter with the cloud forest in Monteverde in Costa Rica, I have been intrigued by its allure with all the nature it contains. Tall trees, different species of animals, plants, insects, and birds, these forests are perfect for nature lovers and hikers. As I’m from Canada, I don’t typically like hot weather and what I love about these types of forests is that the trees cover you with shade but there is enough light seeping out in the gaps of the tops of the trees to let light in.
In the Santa Elena Cloud Forest, there are 12 kilometres of walking routes. Here you’ll find two different types of sloths in the trees, various plants such as ferns and orchids, among other species. If you’re lucky you can hear and see the famous quetzal bird. Binoculars are an essential item to bring and if you want to see some sloths and hire one of the local guides as they know where best to find them.
Not too far from the Amazon rainforest, you can visit the Manu Cloud Forest which is home to Peru’s national bird the Andean Cock-of-the-rock and other species of birds. It is protected by numerous conversation organizations in Peru to maintain its biodiversity.
The Quetzal Trail in Boquete is one of the most scenic hikes in Panama. I decided to do the 10 kilometre half-day trek through the Cloud Forest. The difficulty level is intermediate. You should be in good shape and have a bit of hiking experience. It is a flat walk in some areas and there are some uphill and downhill paths. I was a little bit out of breath from the altitude at times but there were some rest stops along the way.
We started around 9 am and were back in the town around 2:30 pm. The cost per person with a guide is about $50 USD. It was nice to have a guide as he explained about the wildlife, plants, trees and bird species. There are over 400 types of birds that live in the forest including the quetzal.
EcuadorPhoto credit (G Adventures)
At the Guango Cloud Forest Reserve, you can spot all kinds of colourful birds like tanagers, toucans and parrots among other wildlife. At the Itamandi Lodge, you can spot up to 14 different species of hummingbirds.
At a distance of about 10 kilometres from Granada, if you are up for a challenging hike, explore around Mombacho Volcano. You will pass coffee plantations and trek through the cloud forest. There are marked trails as excursions for you to uncover.