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Jungle Nights

August 18, 2020

I woke up during the night a couple of weeks ago to find that a cloud had settled on the lodge. Living in the montane cloud forest, we regularly find ourselves above clouds or even in them depending on the weather conditions. That night, the conditions must have been exactly right to have the cloud at precisely the level of the lodge. The close-to-full moon was lighting up the cloud making it glow and give the lodge an ethereal quality. As if to complete the eerie and magical scene, fireflies flashing red and green were hovering lazily above the mist.

It reminded me how special the jungle is at night. It’s something many people don’t choose to experience or even actively avoid. I imagined the first time I entered the forest at night, that it would be a stressful experience of wandering through creepy, quiet darkness with the vague feeling that you are being watched by something that you cannot see. I was wrong for the most part. First of all, the rainforest at night is LOUD. The chorus of birds heard throughout the day is replaced by an equally enthusiastic chorus of insects and frogs. While indeed the remote forest is dark, the darkness can have its benefits. Since the Las Tangaras reserve is far away from the artificial lights of inhabited areas, there is no light pollution to mask the starlight. If you are walking in Las Tangaras on a clear night, it is well worth turning off your head torch and looking up to see a sky full of more stars than you are likely to have ever seen. As for the feeling of being watched…well you probably are, but this is true in the daytime too and the vast majority of creatures in the forest would much rather slip quietly away from you than risk any confrontation.

stickinsect las tangaras mindo night jungle ecuador

Spiny Stick Insect

Also, rather than stressful I find walking in the forest at night quite relaxing. The air is pleasantly cool and you keep your walking speed extra slow. This is for two reasons. Firstly because walking fast in the jungle at night is a recipe for tripping over a root and falling flat on your face. And the second (and more exciting) reason is that you aren’t going to see anything interesting if you are speeding through the forest not paying attention to your surroundings. My advice is to relax and not rush when walking at night. Use your torch to search for the eyeshine of animals like kinkajou and opossum that may be watching quietly from the trees. Listen carefully for frog calls and then try to locate the caller. The air and plants around you are full of interesting insects from the smallest iridescent beetle to sizeable and amazingly shaped stick insects.  The riverside trails at Las Tangaras are home to plenty of emerald glass frogs that sit on the leaves surrounding the paths and a common potoo has taken a liking to a tree near the cabin.

potoo las tangaras nature reserve ecuador

Our resident potoo.


I hope I’ve made a good case for the night time rainforest being a magical and fascinating place to be! If you happen to be in the area of Mindo I hope you stop by (by night or by day) and enjoy the forest with us.

glass frog las tangaras mindo nature reserve ecuador

Emerald Glass Frog.

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