Friday, June 15, 2012

Cloud Forest

My second day in Samaipata I went on a trek with a French couple and a German. We went into Amboro National Park to the Cloud Forest. Of course, the day that we went was only the second or third clear day of the year so the Cloud Forest wasn't too cloudy. Although we didn't get to see all the beautiful mist that usually surrounds the trees we did get an amazing panoramic view. A fair trade.

The Cloud Forest is home to the helechos gigantes– the giant ferns. These are prehistoric flora that grow only one centimeter per year. Their slow growth rate is due to their age– they were around before the dinosaurs so didn't have to grow quickly because no animals were eating them. When the dinosaurs did show up some plants adapted by growing quickly– but the giant ferns adapted by secreting poison. So the dinosaurs didn't dare eat them and in present day neither do any other animals. Some of the ferns are about seven meters tall, which makes them thousands of years old! When they do die and fall over, the head of the fern starts to grow again– so in a sense they never die.  Besides the giant ferns, the flora in the Cloud Forest was quite amazing. I felt like I was on the movie set for Jurassic Park because everything was just so big and green– I have never been in a forest like this before. There are pumas, bears, jaguars, and tree snakes that are up to two meters long in Amboro National Park– but I didn't see any of these animals (un)fortunately.

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