Week 5

This week, I went to the Amazon, The start of the trip was very long. We had to travel in the bus for many hours until we arrived at Lagartos Caves. This caves are super interesting and are made of limestone. They have fossils of fish and other animals from the ocean, and it was really fun to walk through the river in the caves. After the caves, we visited a fish farm for paiche in order to learn about the economics of the farm and the environmental affects that it has. We spent the night in a community that is named Limoncocha. This community is a lakeside community that is also a biological reserve. in the morning, we went to Yasuní national park. We saw so many birds on a cliff at the park. The birds of this ares eat clay from the cliff to help neutralize toxins from the fruits that they eat. There were so many birds in one place. It was incredible. In the park, we looked for birds and other animals, learned about plants, and we ate tree ants. At lunch we ate ants for the second time. After lunch, we travelled to a community named Cocaya and we walked through the jungle at night. We saw frogs and venomous spiders.The third day, we did bird-watching from a canoe. We saw a sloth, ants, and macaws. The macaws were fantastic; they were eating the bark of a tree to sharpen their beaks. After this, we rode in the canoe through the rain in order to swim with pink river dolphins. We gave food to the dolphins as well, and it was an amazing and exciting experience. The next day, we walked through the jungle. We saw two species of monkeys and a very rare bird. Also, we learned about insects. After this, each person from the group spent several hours alone in the jungle after the lecture, and it was really fun. That night, we learned about bats. I loved this part of the trip because we could see the bats up close. The next day, we traveled to Lagarto Cocha. We saw many beautiful birds like the Scarlett Macaw. We saw monkeys, paiche, and dolphins as well. We tried to get further into the lagoon through vegetation in a boat, but we couldn’t do it. Also, there were fire ants that bit us a lot. We swam at Lagarto Cocha, and in the canoe we saw really beautiful purple flowers. The next day, we worked on research projects and had a night walk through the jungle. We saw a lizard and an Amazon Tree Boa. The last day of the trip, we returned to Limoncocha to see caimans at night. There were fireflies in the plants on the lake, and it was incredible to see the surface of the lake with so many lights. We saw a caiman at night, and I cannot describe the experience. It looked so dangerous and intimidating. The morning after this, on the way to the airport, we saw a volcanic eruption!

Week 3

This week I climbed Volcán Pichincha and I went to the cloud forest. I have uploaded photos of the cloud forest, but I was unable to upload photos of Pichincha. If you want to see more photos, then go here. Sunday, I climbed Pichincha with a group of friends. It was super fun, and it was also very hard. It was similar to the trip to Chimborazo, but at Pichincha I walked more and the terrain was a lot more complex. There were tall, steep hills, and at teh end there were also rocks. Also, the pathway up Pichincha is a lot longer than the one to the second basecamp at Chimborazo. Finally, the top of Pichincha is at 4784 m! It was a very fun experience. I enjoyed the exercise and I also saw a Condor. After Pichincha, the group and I went to a cloud forest reserve called Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia is about 80km west of Quito. We got off the bus, and immediately climbed for 2 hours to the top of a hill. At the top of the hill, there is a lodge for tourists and scientists. On the path to the top, I saw a lot of really interesting plants. I have never seen a forest so green in my entire life. It was incredible. While walking, we learned a bit about the plants and the birds that we were hearing. After arriving at the lodge, the group and I studied hummingbirds. The hummingbirds were so gorgeous, with colors of green, blue, and purple. Also, we studied moths that night. This was an experience that was both very fun and stressful. In order to observe moths, you need to use an light and a blanket. The moths fly to the blanket and you can look at them easily. It’s fun because you can see all the different colors and weird shapes of the moths, but it is stressful because a lot of the moths will fly into your shirt of jacket! The second day, we woke up very early to look at birds. The birds of the cloud forest are fantastic. They have so many colors and are really easy to see in the morning. Afterwards, we set up mist nets in order to catch some birds. I liked seeing the birds so close, but I felt a little bad because the birds were so scared. On the third day, a group and I walked down the hill to the river in order to study macroinvertebrates. We was three waterfalls and some very beautiful butterflies. It was like we were in a postcard. The photos just don’t do justice to the beauty of this forest. It was truly an inspiring experience.


Week 2

This week my program had a trip to the Páramo. The Páramo is a high desert is very cold throughout the year. On the way to the Páramo, we stopped at Lake Colta in order to study birds and human impacts in the area. At the lake, a lot of people have died due to boat accidents because the water is pretty shallow. Because of this, the community decided to create a deeper passage for boats in the center of the lake. When we were there, the lake had boats that were dredging the bottom of the lake, and we were studying the effects of these activities of bird populations in the lake. After the lake, we visited the Páramo. In Ecuador, we visited the Páramo that is close to Mt. Chimborazo. We stayed two nights in asmall community in a tourism hotel that is called Casa Condor. There are not any condors anymore close to the hotel, but the hotel itself is built to resemble a the outline of a condor. The first day, we studies geology in the region. We saw a lot of really cool rock formation and we also saw vicuñas! Vicuñas are animals that look like alpacas or llamas, but they are not domesticated. The people of the community use the wool from the vicuñas to make expensive clothing. In order to get the wool for the vicuñas, a human circle is formed in order to surround the vicuñas. After this, the people of the community cut the wool from the vicuñas. On the second day of the drip, we traveled to the Polylepis forest. It was cloudy and windy, but the forest was really beautiful. The trees are deep orange, and many of the animals use the forest to hide themselves. I learned that the whole area is protected by the community and tourism. Tourism is used to save money for the community. The people of the community use the funds to buy wood and other things, and because of this they do not need to use resources from the forest. We learned about the plants of this area as well. To be so high in the Páramo was very mysterious and fascinating. Because the Páramo is so high, you can see the clouds travel into the valleys. Clouds surround you as you are standing in a place and you can see them roll over the ground. After exploring the forest, we helped a farmer move her alpacas. We chased the alpacas in a field in order to move them into a stall. It was super fun! On the third day, we hiked to the second refuge of Chimborazo at 5100 meters. This part of the trip was difficult because I had never been so high up in my life. All of the students had to walk slowly and we were all breathing hard. However, the vies of the mountain were incredible. I can’t describe it, but I will include some photos on this page. When I returned from the trip, I practices Spanish with my host sister. She wants to learn English, and I am teaching her some words. It is very good for my Spanish and she is excited to learn.