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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rain Forests - Ecuador Style

About an hour outside of Cuenca is a forest reserve called Aguarongo. It's a science centre and reserve for many indigenous plants, including ones with beneficial medicinal ingredients. We were lucky, as the weather held and we even had some lovely spots of sunshine.
Our first rainbow in Cuenca!

Touring Aguarongo

The ride itself went fairly smoothly until we reached the dirt road that led to the forest. It was narrow and pitted, so should you take this journey, be prepared for some bouncing, rocking and rolling. At points, through the brush and trees, you can see that the cliff is quite steep. Your mind can't help but ponder what would happen, should the bus jump the road. There were no signs of any calamity, so I trusted myself to our drive, Nestor.

When we arrived at the park, we were greeted by charming building that reminded me of the Shire with round doors and charmingly shingled, as you can see in the photos.

Traditionally styled eating area. The circular shape helps prevent wind from leaking in.

We had a lovely guide named Adriana, who conducted us through the forest, pointing out medicinal plants, interesting trees and showing us the lay of the land. It was the first tour we took in Spanish and we made it through quite well. The landscape reminded me of regrowth five to ten years after a fire, but the altitude affects how high and quickly things can grow. Adriana pointed out a paper tree bush and told us is was twenty years old, they only grow 3cm a year (or maybe less...). The bush was roughly the height of a friendly, greet your neighbour hedge.

After our hike through the forest, that included stunning views of the surrounding area, we sat down to a lovely almuerzo, featuring a squash soup with cheese (accompanied by perfect avocado and lime slices), chicken in a vegetable sauce with rice and vegetables.  There was also a juice that had thin sort of oatmeal mixed in...I know, sounds weird, but it was really delicious.  I can't describe it, but if you get a chance, try it.

This one's my pride and joy...lovely sunlight through the canopy.
Just behind this hill is Cuenca.

That was our adventure to the Aguarongo Forest. Sending our love from the southern hemisphere!


  1. Looks like a nice trip, It looks high up compared to Cuenca, thought it might be a lot cooler, but doesn't look like it, the way you are dressed.

  2. This looks amazing! I'll be in Cuenca in a few weeks and I would love to go to Aguarongo. Do you have a recommendation for a tour to go with?

  3. Hi Anna! We went with our Spanish class, so I don't have a specific tour to recommend. It is challenging to get to, so a taxi or mixto (truck transportation) from Gualeceo might be the thing. (It's a 45 minute + walk from Gualeceo, if you're adventurous.) You'll also find several companies in Cuenca offering day trips, I'm sure, but, not having taken any I can't recommend one. (So not helpful! Sorry!) It was really cool and might be worth staying overnight, just for the stars and quiet of nature.