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

I have the bird pictures from the Quito area, together with bird pictures from other parts of Ecuador on a separate page:

Birds in Ecuador
Birds in Ecuador

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

Mindo Cloud Forest

Yaruma (Cecropia palmata)
Typical view of the Mindo Cloud Forest (without clouds though). The Silver Tree (Yaruma) (Cecropia palmata) really stands out. It has bright silvery leaves that makes it very conspicuous. (1261k)
Waterfall Cloud Forest Water
A waterfall in the cloud forest. Water is plentiful here. (1017k)
More Typical View Cloud
A more typical view of the cloud forest with the clouds. (636k)
Cloud Forest
In the cloud forest. (1261k)
Airplant (Tillandsia sp.)
Bromeliads (Airplants) in a tree, Tillandsia sp. (german: Tillandsien), possibly (Tillandsia hamaleana). (965k)
Bromeliads Tree
Bromeliads on a tree. (614k)
Rockcap Fern (Polypodium sp.)
A Rockcap Fern (Polypodium sp., german: Tüpfelfarne). (1091k)
Rockcap Fern (Polypodium sp.)
This Rockcap Fern (Polypodium sp., german: Tüpfelfarne) has spores on the underside of the leaves. (588k)
Succulent Plant
A succulent plant. (875k)
Plant. (750k)
Tropical Plant
Tropical plant. (1051k)
Old Leaf Plant Called
An old leaf of a plant called Pumamaqui, eaten away by insects. (983k)
Agave (Agave sp.)
Agave sp. (german: Agaven). (1324k)
Flower. (561k)
Flowers. (601k)
Flowers. (385k)
Flowers. (480k)
Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus)
Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus, german: Feuerbohne, french: Haricot d'Espagne). (396k)
Flowers. (926k)
Pink Quill (Wallisia cyanea)
Pink Quill (Wallisia cyanea, french: Tillandsia raquette). It is endemic to Ecuador. (410k)
Flower. (636k)
Flower. (843k)
Robust Elleanthus (Elleanthus robustus)
Robust Elleanthus, a terrestrial Orchid (Elleanthus robustus). (552k)
Flower. (470k)
Back-scratcher Ginger (Tapeinochilos ananassae)
Back-scratcher Ginger (Tapeinochilos ananassae, french: Rose de Malaisie). (543k)
Flower Stand
Flower stand. (609k)
Heliconia (Heliconia sp.)
Heliconia (Heliconia sp., german: Helikonien:Genus). (474k)
Flower. (429k)
Flower. (427k)
Pitcairnia nigra (Pitcairnia nigra)
Pitcairnia nigra (Pitcairnia nigra). It is endemic to Ecuador. (574k)
Guzmania melinonis (Guzmania melinonis)
A type of bromeliad (Guzmania melinonis). (472k)
Orchids. (564k)
Orchid (Cattleya sp.)
Orchid (Cattleya sp.). (500k)
Lady's Slippers (Paphiopedilum sp.)
Lady's Slippers (Paphiopedilum sp., german: Frauenschuhe). (477k)
Masdevallia (Masdevallia sp.)
Masdevallia Orchid (Masdevallia sp.) or Dracula Orchid (Dracula sp.). (415k)
Bonnet Orchid (Pleurothallis sp.)
Bonnet Orchid (Pleurothallis sp.). (479k)
Orchid. (535k)
Orchid. (450k)
Bucket Orchid (Stanhopea sp.)
Bucket Orchid, probably Stanhopea sp. (531k)
Heliconia Flower
Heliconia flower. (612k)
Banana Flower Fruits
Banana flower and fruits. (668k)
Lepidoptera (Lepidoptera fam.)
Butterfly (Lepidoptera fam., german: Schmetterlinge, french: Papillons). (554k)
Little Lizard
A little lizard. (497k)


Valley Bottom Flank Cotopaxi
Valley on the bottom flank of Cotopaxi. (717k)
View Cotopaxi Clouds
View of Cotopaxi through the clouds. (321k)
View Cotopaxi Across Páramo
View from Cotopaxi across the páramo, the high plain. The plain is at an altitude of about 3,000 m (9,800 ft). (467k)
View Páramo High Plain
View of the páramo, the high plain north of Cotopaxi. (607k)
Vegetation Around 4000 m 13100 ft
Vegetation at around 4,000 m (13,100 ft) altitude on Cotopaxi. Mostly grass and some wildflowers grow here. (793k)
Vegetation Around 4600 m 15090 ft
Vegetation at around 4,600 m (15,090 ft) altitude on Cotopaxi. There is not much growing at that altitude. (562k)
Cotopaxi Air
Cotopaxi from the air. (322k)
Cotopaxi Air
Cotopaxi from the air. (348k)
Second Largest Volcano Cotacachi
The second largest volcano, Cotacachi, from the ground. (676k)
Cotacachi Air Reaching Above
Cotacachi from the air, reaching above a cloud layer. (385k)
Cotopaxi Air Reaching Above
Cotopaxi from the air, reaching above a cloud layer. (385k)
Both Cotopaxi Right Cotacachi
Both Cotopaxi (on the right), and Cotacachi above the clouds. (443k)
Trailing Lily (Bomarea multiflora)
Trailing Lily (Bomarea multiflora). (522k)
Loricaria thuyoides (Loricaria thuyoides)
Shrub (Loricaria thuyoides). (442k)
Wildflower. (372k)
Chocho del Páramo (Lupinus pubescens)
Chocho del Páramo, Lupine (Lupinus pubescens). (399k)
Chocho Del Páramo
Chocho del Páramo. (711k)
Hercules' Club Puya (Puya clava-herculis)
Hercules' Club Puya (Puya clava-herculis). It is endemic to Ecuador. (1266k)
Alpine Plant
Alpine plant. (1189k)
Deer's Antlers (Halenia weddelliana)
Cacho de Venado, Deer's Antlers (Halenia weddelliana). (464k)
Horsetail (Equisetum sp.)
Horsetail (Equisetum sp., german: Schachtelhalme). (568k)
Alpine Plant
Alpine plant. (783k)
Chikku Chikku (Hypochaeris sessiliflora)
Chikku Chikku or Cat's Ear (Hypochaeris sessiliflora). (538k)
Alpine Plant
Alpine plant. (486k)
Peruvian Feather Grass (Jarava ichu)
Pajonales del páramo, Peruvian Feather Grass (Jarava ichu, french: Paja brava). This type of grass was used to cover the local huts. (961k)
Castilleja fissifolia (Castilleja fissifolia)
Flower (Castilleja fissifolia). (644k)
Castilleja fissifolia (Castilleja fissifolia)
Flower (Castilleja fissifolia). (394k)
Bidens triplinervia (Bidens triplinervia)
Flower (Bidens triplinervia, german: Zweizähne). (389k)
Water Mattress (Plantago rigida)
Water Mattress (Plantago rigida). (908k)
Lasiocephalus ovatus (Lasiocephalus ovatus)
Alpine Plant (Lasiocephalus ovatus). (417k)
Lasiocephalus ovatus (Lasiocephalus ovatus)
Alpine Plant (Lasiocephalus ovatus). (502k)
Lasiocephalus ovatus (Lasiocephalus ovatus)
Alpine Plant (Lasiocephalus ovatus). (397k)
Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui)
Chuquiraga, Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui). (458k)
Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui)
The Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui). (573k)
Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui)
The Flower of the Andes (Chuquiraga jussieui). (444k)
Lichens. (1249k)
Alpine Plant (Senecio nivalis)
Alpine Plant (Senecio nivalis). (543k)
Alpine Wildflower
Alpine wildflower. (474k)
Club Moss (Phlegmariurus crassus)
Club Moss (Phlegmariurus crassus). (611k)
Fern. (640k)

This page contains 83 pictures with 34 species

Main page for Ecuador

Page last updated on Fri Oct 29 16:07:21 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)

Quito and Surroundings on

© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn

*Dr. Günther Eichhorn Travel Website
*Soaring website