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Coming to live in the Jungle, or more specifically…to a neo-tropical montane cloud forest

January 2, 2021

On Christmas Day, as we were calling loved ones, a friend asked us to “describe the mountain in front of us” and it made me realize that unless someone has been here, it is impossible to know what to expect upon arrival. A “mountain” can be so many different things. Dependent on who you are and what places you have experienced in your lifetime, determines what image is conjured up in your mind when you hear that word. You can Google Earth the location, you can read the Reserve’s Managers Blogs, you can research photos and videos of the Mindo, Ecuador area but, until you have arrived here at Reserva Las Tangaras, you cannot know what it is like to be surrounded by this kind of nature.

The outgoing managers, Sophie Collier and Phil Guy (on the left) and us, the incoming managers, Katie and Nick Ebanks on the right.

As I sit here writing this, I am struck by the absolute emerald quality that everything holds. On the days like today, where we are lucky enough to welcome the sun first thing in the morning, the forest seems to be drawn into its light. All the plants are growing and reaching towards the suns warm, enriching rays. Everything sparkles for the first few hours as the dew slowly evaporates from the forest surfaces. Spiders webs, meters long are strung across the lawn like natural tightropes, catching the light for just one second before disappearing into the forest backdrop. The colors here indescribable.

The cascading water fall that acts as a natural line between the reserve land and the neighbor’s property

We fall asleep each night to the frogs and wake up each day to the birds. Each the perfect chorus to lull us to sleep after a long day or to gently welcome us to a new beginning. In the background you can hear the Rio Nambillo as it pushes massive amounts of water along its shores. Today, the sounds of the river are in the backdrop as we have had little rain over the last 24hrs…not the case only 48hrs ago.  Two days ago (Christmas Day) we had about 60mm of rain in a 24hr period and sitting in the lodge you could feel the boulders being moved under the rivers surface. By comparison, today’s river is calm.

The Rio Nambillo brims over after a few days of rain

I can hear a Broad-billed Motmot in the forest to the west of la cabana, it’s familiar “ Gwau, gwua, gwua…” slowly and steadily calling. There are many other smaller birds in the area calling as well, however my novice knowledge of the local avian populations does not allow me to identify them. They seem to always be calling over one another, fighting calmly for space in this active forest to be heard. There are insects as well, always a backdrop of insects rubbing their legs or wings together. They are a constant, faint, backdrop which becomes so normal to life here that you have to stop and close your eyes in order to give them the attention they deserve.

One of the resident Broad-billed Mot-mots sits waiting for its next meal (or digesting the previous one!)

Hummingbirds thrum past you seemingly at random and in a blink of an eye they’re speeding back towards the cover of the forest. Their tiny beating wings so fast, that you feel the small wind produced by them as they inspect you for flowers before realizing their mistake. Some call, while others are only made apparent by the sound and feeling of their fast-fluttering wings.

“Broke Bill”, a Green-crowned woodnymph, looks back at the feeders, looking to see if there is an open space at the dinner table

Daily life here as you can imagine is magical. The work is physically demanding, labor intensive, and ever present. However, the reward for your efforts are unbounding. We have so enjoyed the first month of our stay here, cheers to the next five!

Your new Reserva Las Tangaras Managers, Katie and Nick

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Seiden permalink
    January 24, 2021 2:30 pm

    I had a great time visiting the Reserve earlier this month. You were excellent hosts. It is an experience i will never forget. Good luck with the remainder of your tenure there. Oh, and don’t forget that cookbook!


    • January 30, 2021 11:15 am

      Hi Karen!

      It’s great to hear from you! Thanks for the positive feedback, we’re so glad to hear that you had a great few days with us. We thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with you and George as well! Thanks for the luck, we’re at the halfway mark now so time is moving quickly…

      Email us at: and we will gladly reply with the cookbook thus far 🙂 Please give our best to George and we hope that you both keep adventuring and living life to the fullest!

      Take care and we hope to hear from you via email soon!
      Best, Katie & Nick


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