The Asequia loop trail is about 1.5 hours, and not too difficult. Thought it doesn’t go through primary forest, the secondary forests it does go into is quite beautiful. Orchids abound and are actually easier to see here than in the high-forest trail. There’s also no shortage of tree ferns and as well as zillions of philodendrums and anthuriums. Whoever is guiding you will take the time to point out the medicinal plants, including the awesome Cinchona, or quinine tree. The miraculous Sangre de Grado, or poor-people’s pharmacy, also grows naturally here at this elevation. The sap from this large tree flows the exact color of blood, and is used to cure a host of diseases (it works too!) The bark of the humble Cinchona tree, by the way, for centuries was the only source of medicine to cure malaria. The tree is responsible for saving the lives of untold millions of people, and has produced billons of dollars of profit for pharmaceutical companies. Cinchona is native to Intag and, as well as the Sangre de Drago, on the list of protected species. After gawking at the orchids, medicinal plants and tree ferns, the walk ends at our 15 meter-high waterfall, which is less than 10 minutes from your cabin.

The high-forest trail is a bit more difficult and definitely more vertical than the Asequia trail. But, if you want to see primary cloud forest, it’s worth the extra sweat. The walk follows our water-fall stream for a while, then goes up a mountain through the unequal primary cloud forest. You’ll see bigger, more mature trees than the ones close to the cabins laden down with thousands upon thousands of epiphytic plants- many of them orchids. This is also the place to see some of the shyer forest birds that prefer the mature forest.

The River walk is also a bit of an adventure, since the weeds and trees grow much quicker than we can ever deal with and you never know if the trail will be hidden or easy to follow! The river is about a 20 minute walk from the cabins, but a 40 minute walk up, through abandoned pastures, and healthy secondary forest. Good place to sit and be for a while.

For the more adventurous types, there are walks to the nearby village of Plaza Gutierrez (3 hours round trip); or Apuela (4 hours). The Nangulvi Thermal Baths is a full day trip, but also worth considering for those of you staying longer than 2 or 3 days. At about 1400 meters elevation, the baths sit besides the white-water Intag River, and if you happened to have brought your fly-fishing gear, you can try your luck here for trout or Lisa, one of the native fish. In Apuela, there’s also the possibility of visiting the offices and toasting plant of the Rio Intag Coffee Association, talk to Women’s groups, and/or eating fried chicken (for those who long for meat in their diet)

Staying Close to Home. If you are the relaxing type and want to get a feel for our hammocks, then you won’t be disappointed if you opt for hanging around the cabins and coffee thermos. Especially if you are a bird-watcher, you are apt to see many more species of birds just around the main lodge than you are in either of the two main walks. In general, this is the place to just relax and enjoy the silence and the stunning beauty of clouds at play with the mountains.

The bamboo and thatch-roof Round House that sits overlooking the forested mountains, offers hammocks and ping-pong for those feeling guilty on losing out on the exercise the hiking provided.

..Thank you so much for everything this week: for teaching us about the cloud forest, about campesino life here in Intag and sustainable agriculture and environmental activism; for providing new opportunities to us and others; for great food and accommodations; for all you have done for the community and for all you have done for the world. You are truly inspiring. A special thanks to Robert for teaching us about the plants.

Nina Townsend