Podocarpus National Park – The Jungle!

It was time for our second visit to Podocarpus National Park, but this time we were venturing into the Bombuscaro section of the park – which is the lowland jungle section of the park, which is approximately 1000 metres above sea-level…

We took a short taxi ride from Zamora – there are no buses – to the Bombuscaro section car park. The taxi could only take us as far as the car park, as access to the park itself is restricted to walkers – to reach the entrance, and the ranger station, you have to hike 20 minutes or so along a trail.

The hike into the park was actually pretty nice… and to be honest, we felt like we were in the jungle before we were officially in the park!

The trail leading from the car park to the park entrance.
Wildlife spotting before we even arrive in the park.
CC enjoys the scenery on the way into the park.
The entrance is in sight 🙂
Officially inside the park … a view from the footbridge that you cross before you reach the ranger station.

Having registered with the ranger we headed out… there are five trails in this area of the park, and we were determined to try and fit them all in before heading back to Zamora – on foot – yep, not knowing how long we needed in the park, we hadn’t arranged for the taxi to come back for us (as most sensible people do – judging from online reviews). We were going to add a few extra kms to the day’s total instead!!!

We reached the trailhead area… but it took us a while to get walking, as we got VERY distracted by an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock… We might have seen an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock before – BUT this sighting was different – this time the bird was REALLY close, and we were determined to get a picture… waiting paid off – okay, so it might not be the best picture of a Cock-of-the-Rock ever, BUT it is OUR best picture of a Cock-of-the-Rock so far 🙂 🙂

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

The first trail we walked – Sendero Higuerones – was the longest trail of those on offer – however, to be honest, it still wasn’t very long! The trail was really nice – the rangers described it as flat, but actually it was probably best described as undulating… I certainly could feel myself going up and down on the trail!!! BUT – however you describe the incline of the trail, I reckon it was without question extremely scenic – as it went through some awesome looking jungle with heaps of unusual looking plants and some quite unique looking creatures. The trail ended at the Puente El Campesino (the rural bridge).

CC on the trail.
An unidentified critter!
An Andean motmot sits quietly in the jungle by the trail.
The trail is quite narrow in parts!
PB on the trail.
An unusual creature caught our attention.
PB on the Puente El Campesino.
A view of the river, and lush green jungle from the bridge.

To reach the other trails we needed to retrace our steps – however once back near the ranger station we became distracted again… yep, another bird… BUT this one was REALLY special…. The White-necked Parakeet… Doesn’t sound special? Well, it is – it is endangered and endemic to Ecuador and Peru – so this was our only chance to see it!!!

The White-necked Parakeet.

Once we got bored – or more accurately – once the parakeets got bored of us and left the vicinity – we headed towards our next chosen trail – El Mirador…

A walk to a mirador (or viewpoint in English) inevitably requires an uphill slog, or you really aren’t going to have much of a view. I was therefore expecting to be going uphill most of the way there, and downhill most of the way back… but there was a surprise waiting for us on the trail that the rangers had kindly omitted to tell us about!

PB on the steps to the mirador.
The view of the surrounding area is starting to appear 🙂
The surprise – the trail is SOOO steep that you need to use a rope to get up it!!! CC takes a rest – to pose for the camera – from hauling herself up the cliff face with the rope.
It was worth it… we got a nice view 🙂

The walk however didn’t stop here… we carried on climbing higher – CC slipping and sliding a bit as it was a tad muddy, and she’s not such a seasoned walker as PB… until we reached the official mirador… what can I say but… we should have stopped at the last unoffical viewpoint!?! Although at least they’d put in a bench so we could eat lunch sitting down!

We’ve arrived… thing is – it’s the same view as lower down – and the 360 view has long gone as the jungle has grown pretty high.
CC gave up on looking at the view and focussed on the butterflies that seemed to have taken a shine to her 🙂

CC wasn’t a fan of getting to the bottom of the mirador trail… but she made it…

The next trail to the Cascada Poderosa (the powerful waterfall) was short and easy… and extremely quiet – in fact we had the whole waterfall to ourselves, which was really nice 🙂

PB tries his hand at doing an ‘instagram pose’ at the waterfall… this is a first for PB, but having spent lots of time around selfie-taking and instagram-posing tourists, he didn’t need to think twice!

The next walk took us to the Bombuscaro river, and finally we walked the last trail to the Cascada La Chismosa (Chismosa Waterfall)… Both walks were REALLY short and more crowded than the others so we didn’t linger… we did see a speedy coati on our last trail – he was SOOO speedy though, that we didn’t even manage to get a blurred picture of him 🙁 Instead we got some pictures of non-moving things like a flower and the river (which I guess is technically moving – as it’s flowing – but still, much easier to photograph than a speedy coati!)

One of the unusual flowering plants in Podocarpus National Park.
The fast flowing Bombuscaro River.

Having completed all of the walks in the Bombuscaro section of the park, it was time to head to the ranger station to let them know we were leaving… of course… we didn’t get to leave straightaway – another bird was spotted, and this one was getting up to some crazy antics on the roof that we needed to watch 😉

One last distraction…
The same bird displaying some unusual behaviour – making a special ‘collapsed bird’ manoeuvre.

We really enjoyed our day trip to the park, and our conclusion was that this section of the park was way better than the highlands section… although had we seen an Andean Spectacled Bear on our last visit – the conclusion might not have been so clear-cut!

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