About 80 miles from Quito, this eco lodge in the sky is owned by 12 campesino families, who are regenerating 1800 acres of now-protected forest. Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve offers lodge accommodations as well as beautiful wood-and-glass cabins, stilted out over dense jungle that's once again dripping with life.
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Tree of Life
In just 10 years, the cloud forest surrounding Santa Lucia Lodge (near Nanegal, Ecuador) is coming back to life. Before the area came under protection in 1988, logging, hunting, and farming were widespread.
Now, second-growth trees mix seamlessly with primary; trunks are coated in lichen and moss; and orchids, bromeliads, and mushrooms sprout from tangled branches. More than 394 bird species—from hummingbirds and toucans to the notorious cock-of-the-rock—have been recorded in the area, and motion-sensing cameras have caught pumas and the endangered Andean spectacled bear in action.