<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> <% Dim pelicabecera pelicabecera = Int (Rnd*65000) %> Tulipe Pachijal Cloud Forest - Ecuador
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My trip to Tulipe


I was picked up at 7.30 pick-up by my guide Marco, for my excursion to the Tulipe Cloud Forest. I did wonder if, given the cloudless sky, the cloud forest would live up to its name. We soon left Quito behind, passing the distinctive monument of the Mitad del Mundo (Centre of the World) on the way. The scenery changed gradually to steep-sided slopes, clad in exuberant, lush vegetation in varying shades of green. We stopped at a small café for breakfast. I just couldn’t resist pinching Marco’s delicious, slightly sweet, slightly salty yucca chips, and eventually just had to order a plate of my own. We drank fresh papaya juice.

After a 2 hour drive, we arrived at the small hamlet of Tulipe. We kitted up and set off on our adventure down the track. Stony to start with, it soon became more earthy… muddy even, and we were negotiating ups and downs, stones and mud, if not with aplomb, at least with a spirit of adventure. The clouds did indeed show and the mist lent an ethereal, magical quality to the forest. The vegetation was astounding. The plant forms came in all shapes, sizes, structures and colours: pointed and palmate, lanceolate and latticed, frondy and filigreed, emerald green and olive green, smooth and hairy, familiar and exotic.


Introducing ourselves:

Aims of the Foundation "Los Amigos del Bosque Tulipe-Pachijal" (Friends of the Tulipe-Pachijal Cloud Forest), established 2004) include:

  • preserving the biodiversity of the Tulipe area
  • promoting ecological conservation
  • promoting ecotourism
  • encouraging the use of sustainable resources

Are you…

  • keen on wildlife and interested in conservation
  • a believer in ecotourism
  • a birdwatcher, photographer or interested in ancient cultures
  • an independent traveller who likes to get off the beaten track
  • an academic or student with a professional interest in ecology
  • an organizer of field trips or school groups?

If so, a visit to the private and pristine Tulipe Reserve is a must. Tulipe is waiting to be discovered by the discerning and adventurous visitor. We can also arrange tailored visits for your special interests.


I saw at first hand the damage deforestation can do – the dramatic difference between primary and secondary forest. The Friends of the Tulipe-Pachijal Cloud Forest Foundation (link) is working with the local people to minimize this type of environmental damage. It’s such a worthwhile project.

We crossed a small stream (you don’t have to get your feet wet!) and Marco then invited me into his area of cloud forest. It didn’t seem much of an invitation – just the opportunity to head into some dense bushes and tangled undergrowth… Once inside the private and protected area, however, the atmosphere changed and I felt privileged to be in such a rich, dense and close-knit world of pristine forest. Feeling like an intrepid explorer, I made close acquaintance with lianas and lichens. With ferns in my face and forest floor under my feet I followed Marco deeper into the undergrowth. I spotted an evil-looking black and yellow striped caterpillar (small) and a rather ungainly centipede (large). I heard the squawk of parakeets and the tumbling sound of Marco’s private waterfall. Twisting and turning to avoid trunks and roots, we made it to the hut that Marco intends to develop into a simple camping base. We munched our lunch and then headed back taking a slightly different route.

Once we’d changed out of our muddy boots and trousers, we headed for the small Tulipe museum. ‘Tulipe’ is an ancient quechua (native South American language) word meaning ‘water that descends from the ‘tolas’.’ ‘Tuli’ means ‘tola’ and ‘pi’ (or ‘pe’) means ‘water’.

My museum guide was a delightful young local woman who explained the pre-Incan Yumbo civilisation and showed me their artefacts. We then headed down a small zig-zagging path, bordered by some of the plants I’d just seen in the wild, and other exotic species, over the scenic River Tulipe towards the neatly-kept archaeological site that makes Tulipe so special. This link with an ancient culture, distinguished by its understanding of astronomy, geometry and architecture, is something most other cloud forest tours aren’t able to offer.

My guide explained the significance of the ‘piscinas’ (large stone basins for rituals, purification, initiation and observation of the heavens) and the ‘tolas’ (truncated pyramids for sacred and ceremonial use and for dwellings). I wandered among the flor de mayo and citrus trees, taking photos. A short walk down a side road took us to the largest ‘piscina’, where a (modern) complex cat’s cradle of string indicated how the Yumbo used geometrical devices to plot the movement of the stars and planets, especially at solstices and equinoxes.

Our journey back to Quito was spent reliving our adventure. I had a great sense of physical achievement after the 4 hour walk amongst the creepers and the climbers, and felt I knew a little more about the ancient and fascinating Yumbo culture, thanks to Marco.

I’d do it all again tomorrow! Tulipe is highly recommended if you like a little challenge and want to visit an off-the-beaten-track area just a stone’s throw from frenetic Quito – a gem yet to be discovered.

A.M. (aged 58), Brighton, England.
July 2008

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