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Off to a very good start on our first day

Officially, it’s our second day of course. But after a 20-hour flight, jetlag and having to do everything in Spanish all of a sudden, resulted in a bit of a blur on that very first day.

Day 1

First view we’ve had of Ecuador was in Quito, while waiting for our next flight to Guayaquil and this is what we saw:

Needless to say, already being in the clouds at the airport made us feel at home right away.

Arriving at Guayaquil, we had another 3-hour drive to Cuenca with our guide Ivan. This ended up being a 5-hour drive, as we just had to make some stops spotting Anthurium and Philodendron on the way. Also: lamas at 4000m high!

We finally arrived at a place with a lot of orchids: Mundiflora Farm. We will also be ending our tour here, so pictures will follow at the end of our journey (also, we were so tired we completely forgot to take any pictures inside the greenhouses…)

Afterwards, quick dinner and off to sleep!

Day 2 – Parque Nacional de Cajas

Time for our very first orchid spotting drive, exciting! Endlessly driving at 20km/h with many many stops in between, we had our first views of Ecuadorian orchids. To begin with, a real beauty: Andinia spiralis

We saw this species quite a few times along the way, always growing in huge clumps full of yellow flowers. Not often seen in culture, it was very nice to see that one in-situ in a rather intermediate climate, not too wet either.

Next: a tiny terrestrial Liparis lueri Cute as a button, we’d never seen such an odd Liparis. Creeping on the ground along long rhizomes, we wouldn’t have taken this for an Liparis if we hadn’t found the flowers.

At the same spot: another nice Epidendrum sp.

Further along the way…boom! Davina suddenly started screaming "Trichoceros, Trichoceros" so yeah, it was obvious she spotted one. Trichoceros sp. Hadn’t seen that one coming. Sitting really obviously on the side of the road, it was enjoying a lot of sunlight.

And now for a big one…a tiny miniature called Hofmeisterella eumicroscopica. Why not, right? Nobody told us we couldn’t start with very rare species on our first day on the road…

No flowers unfortunately, but seeing this plant in-situ really is something to be proud of. And just look at the size of those clumps!

All that even before entering the Parque itself. We felt truly blessed.

First part of driving through the parc was not related to orchids at all, but driving through open plains in high altitudes, known as “Páramo”. That was on the one side of the mountain.

Very interesting vegetation to behold, with lots of succulents and other alpine plants.

When we passed the ridge onto the other side, the vegetation quickly changed and we entered a much more humid climate, where we finished with a real star for us, a very nice Telipogon sp. along the road as well, one we encountered twice.

Another couple of orchids we spotted that day:

Caucaea nubigena

Maxillaria grandiflora

Odontoglossum hallii

Cyrtochilum cerratum

Helcia sp.

That's it for now, we'll be back soon with more wonderful orchid news from Ecuador.

No, wait, here's a very cool and weird fly. OK now we're done.

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