After some deliberation we finally decided to give camping a try. And one of the best spots in the area is in Parque Nacional Amboro or more commonly known as the Cloud Forest (altitude 2000 - 2500m). Due to the high altitude of the park it is typical that much of the flora is surrounded by clouds. As a result many of the larger trees are covered in lycan and moss which through a natural process turn the water from a gasious state to a liquid state and help transport it to the ground where it comes out at natural springs.
We set out from Samaipata with our english speaking columbium guide, Santiago, after a quick stop at the local markets to pick up all our food for the trip. The first leg of the hike to our camp site, was thankfully only a short 2 hours as our bags were packed to the brim.
After a surprisingly good camping lunch of gourmet bread, basil, cheese, tomato and ham sandwiches, we quickly set up camp and headed off for another 2hr trek to the top of the La Yunga, which was surrounded by clouds giving it a very mystical feel. We decided to sit up the top and wait for the cloud to clear a little before heading back down. After waiting about 10 mins the cloud finally parted and we were able to see the Andes in one direction and the Amazon and Pantanal in the other direction - well worth the climb and sitting in the cold winds!
Our guide Santiago was excellent at pointing out and explaining the medicinal uses of the flora within each of the different types of forests we visited and as well as the prehistoric history and evolutionary patterns of the different fern varieties. He also warned us about all the little nasties that can be found hiding among the foliage - one in particular was the beautifully colored caterpillars which when in contact with your skin sting and then eventually burn you. Of course Louise was unlucky enough to get one on her shirt which brushed against her forearm, it sure did burn but fortunately it was only a little baby so nothing serious.
After collecting some kindling from the top of the mountain we trekked back down and started to building a nice fire for the evening as it was starting to cool down with the sun falling below the ranges. Given it was a hot and humid environment we were worried it might just create a tower of smoke but we were in luck and ended up with a good fire - perfect to cook our pasta for dinner and keep us warm until bed!
The second day, after a very restless sleep, we headed off for another day of trekking. Heading north we followed the pre Andes range hiking through some pretty rugged terrain.
After returning from our 4hr hike we had another gourmet sandwich lunch followed by a quick clean up of the camp site before setting off for a return to civilization. The return journey was slightly longer as we took a different path around the mountain. Whilst the path was definitely more scenic, with many small creek crossings, little waterfalls and Jurassic ferns, it did prove to be more challenging. But thankfully we made it through unharmed, except for Lou's minor sting.
Over our two days we also manage to see numerous beautiful and very colorful plant life within the various types of forests we visited.
Overall, we had a great two days and covered approximately 30km. Although we were very happy we chose only one night as by the end of the two days we were in desperate need of a long hot shower, a glass of red wine and a good steak!- Ryan & Louise -