Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Spectacular Antisana Reserve, Ecuador

Ian, Janet and I visited the magnificent Antisana Reserve the day before we left Ecuador, and a fitting last day it was. The landscape was incredible, I've never seen anything quite as beautiful. These pictures don't do it justice, it's just impossible to capture such grandeur in a small image on a screen, but that didn't stop me from trying :-)

Fausto drove us there and did all the necessary preliminary paperwork to allow us entrance to Antisana. There are 4 checkpoints along the way, and if you don't have the proper signed documents you are not permitted to enter.

If you would like to have Fausto take you there I highly recommend him, he was receptive to all our demands and made birding very enjoyable for Ian. Be sure and give him at least a few days lead time for him to get the necessary papers. His email is
presidencia@tzanzaworld.com at Tzanza Tourismo in Quito.
Phone (593)2 2546348

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Ecuadorian shepherdess.

Our first checkpoint, you must have your papers.

The terrain when you first enter the reserve.

Milk collections are taken twice a day, the dairy farmer leaves this blue milk can full of milk at pre arranged locations. The milk collector here drives around, pours the milk into containers in the back of his truck and leaves the empty can to be filled up at the next milking. A very efficient operation, the dairy farmer doesn't need to store or deliver his milk any farther than the road.

The new, very comfortable van Fausto drove us around in.

Stout-billed Cinclodes.

Another check point. More on this one later...

We're very high up now, around 13,000 feet.
If your computer doesn't cut it off, you can just make out Ian on the far right bottom corner.

Ian and Fausto were off walking around when Janet started feeling very badly from the altitude. She's had several heart surgeries, and her heart was not liking the this part of the Andes. We headed back to the last checkpoint at 10,000 feet, where she felt better.

Moorland or Paramo vegetation.

Paramo straw and our van very tiny.

Just wide open space and this flock of sheep being driven across the road...

...by a very colorful shepherdess.
A beautiful sight!

A very unusual sighting of an Andean Fox

After we dropped Janet off we continued on, I think our highest was around 14,000 feet.

The only other vehicle we saw up here was driven by our friend Eduardo, from San Isidro! We'd left that part of the country a month before, it was great to see him again. He was driving a group of birders and here he's hanging out with our other friend Fausto, even though they'd never met before today. Don't they look good together??
Such lovely undisturbed land.

Checkpoint up ahead.

Antisana Volcano 18,800 feet. We never did quite see all of the top, but it made a great backdrop!

Many lagoons and small rivers.

Andean Gulls were enjoying the warmth from the road.

Janet made friends with Gorge and his dog, they spent about 3 hours together and he was very kind. He made her tea and taught her some Spanish, sharing family stories.

The checkpoint were we used the bathroom and picked up Janet.

Whoa!! That's a lot of pictures!
Heading back to Quito, about and hour and a half away. To do Antisana justice, it's best to plan on spending most of the day for your trip. We were picked up at our hotel around 7:30 and arrived back around 4:30.