Our last full day in Ecuador we took a trip over the western ridge of the Andes to the Mindo Cloud Forest. We started with a hike in El Pahuma, an orchid reserve with 4000 varieties of orchids. We weren't there in peak orchid season, but there were still some interesting orchids to be seen, like this monkey face orchid, and the hike took us to 2 waterfalls. Located only an hour from Quito, it was a nice break from the city, and the hike was needed after all we'd been eating!
After the hike, we continued through Mindo to Mariposario, a butterfly farm. They have about 25 different types of butterflies, in different stages of life. I was blown away by the variety and all their crazy patterns. Cocoons that looked like a drop of water, or a bird poop to hide from predators and one species of butterfly that looked like an owl and whose tips also look like a snake's head (first photo). Crazy. One butterfly landed on my shoulder and stayed there for at least five minutes as I walked around. Supposedly it's good luck, I prefer to think it's because I'm so sweet ;)
We finished up with lunch at the Sachatamia Lodge. This lodge is known for its birdwatching. The dining room has windows on all sides and is surrounded by hummingbird feeders. The varieties of hummingbirds that come for a snack were incredible and mesmerizing to watch. Having a fresh heart of palm salad to go with it, perfection.