Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ecuador Tres

Here's some more photos from my recent class trip to Ecuador. This post focuses on a trek into the rainforest of the Yasuni National Park in the Napo Province. Previously: long bus ride from Quito to the Amazon basin and Quito itself.

Rainforest U
A University where we stayed in the Yasuni National Park. I believe those things hanging from the tall, skinny tree are nests or hives of some sort.

The canoe ride from the University into the rainforest.

A view of the rainforest canopy from the canoe. This (and other) photos unfortunately don't capture the scale of the rainforest; the large tree on the left has a breadth of at least 150 feet (I imagined a family of monkeys living up there). Part of the scale problem is that trees in the rainforest tend to have skinny trunks, as they reach high for sunlight and then spread out their canopy in order to soak up the sun's nutrients. Therefore the trunk and roots tend to less substantial than the canopy, though just as interesting.

Mushrooms growing on a tree stump. Again regarding scale, the large one in the middle projects probably 6-8" from the stump. Yes, they were big, and their tops looked like fudge.

Here's the way live trees look on the floor of the rainforest. Because of the relatively poor soil conditions and the extremely tall nature of the trees, their roots start to spread above the soil. Many of the roots sit exposed above the soil as they reach horizontally for a footing.

Crazy roots
Here's an extreme example of how the roots reach out above the soil for some sort of footing. One could easily crawl through that one "archway".

Looking Up
Walking around the rainforest the sky is a distant presence, though there's the occasional spot where it ekes through.

Opening in the Rainforest
Our machete-wielding guides took us on a long trek to this opening in the rainforest, something that seemed like a gyp at the time (being extremely tired, hot, and hungry at the time) but in retrospect is pretty amazing. It's like a hidden gem of light and sky in the dense, dark forest.

Back at the University, heading on to our next destination.

Next time: the city in the jungle.

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