Guide and manager of the 7 Summits Club Anastasia Kuznetsova reports from Ecuador:
Finally, the whole group is assembled and we begin our acquaintance with Ecuador with a visit to the cloud forest of Mindo. Cloud forest is a zone of equatorial rain forest stretched along the western slope of the Andes at an altitude of about 2000 m. Moisture evaporates over the Pacific Ocean, rises and settles in the form of thick clouds along the Andes ridge at about these heights. A dense blooming lush forest with lianas, bromeliads and tree ferns among the clouds looks mysterious and mysterious.
Mindo is the closest nature reserve to Quito with such a natural area.
There are many different activities for every taste. Someone rafts on a local mountain river, someone feeds a hummingbird with sweet nectar, someone watches butterflies and orchids.
We went hiking through the rain forest to a series of waterfalls, reaching the starting point on the local version of the cable car through the blooming valley.
The highlight of the day was a visit to a local farm where handmade chocolate is made from cocoa, which is grown right here. Already on the way we were knocked down by the magical rich aroma of freshly made hot chocolate. Then we participated in the process of making chocolate from the very beginning, from tasting fresh coffee beans, a bit like lychee. Next comes their fermentation in special trays under the open sky. In small farms, fermented grains are fried over a fire in a large cast-iron frying pan, fried grains are peeled and rubbed with a stone in a stone bowl. It turns out 100% cocoa bean paste without any additives.
Next, the paste is heated, various incredible additives are added and poured into molds for chocolate bars.
Of course, we didn't leave until we tried all kinds of pure 100% chocolate and chocolate with additives of lemongrass, mint, coffee, dry tropical fruits, orange, black pepper. The husk also goes into business. It makes a wonderful tonic drink.
In general, the day was a success!