I find that nature soothes my soul. In my area of Colombia, in the Valle del Cauca department, we have many birds, including over 30 species of hummingbirds just at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. Because of Earth Day I thought I would share some photos of my birds I photograph daily at my Villa. Colombia has the most species of birds in the entire world. We are a small country that is the most bio diverse in the world. Enjoy some of my favorite photos, and enjoy my absolute love of nature. The featured photo is a Blackburian Warbler. They migrate to my area of Colombia. A very tiny little bird and I love the colors, I am not sure why this bird is still here because it is migratory time for all hummingbirds and birds in Colombia. Some of the birds just stay and they are more than welcome at my home!
White shoulder Tanager, the very tiny white you see opens up to a lot of white when it flies
These are just a few of my many species of birds I see regularly, so why not come and sit awhile and see for yourself? I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the climate, the birds and the peace of Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
Oftentimes people wonder what exactly adventure travel is. According to Wikipedia “Adventure travel is a type of niche tourism, involving exploration or travel with a certain degree of risk (real or perceived), and which may require special skills and physical exertion. … Other rising forms of adventure travel include social and jungle tourism.”
This definition is true, but it can be modified to any age group wants and needs. At Villa Migelita we get such a variety who seek the excitement and experiences that are not found in many tourism spots in this world. We constantly look and find new places to bring our guests so they can see life in nature in the Valle del Cauca, Colombia.
Yesterday we took our guests into the jungle to look for parrots. They had specifically asked us for activities that were off the beaten path and different. Above you see the parrots that flock every single day over my Villa to go down to lower altitudes and then they return to the pine trees really high in the area called Hueco Frio in La Buitrera del Palmira. We entered the jungle in my truck a 4 x 4 Toyota that is very strong, and very adaptable to climbing the great heights we obtain here in the mountains of Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Take a look at the video of just one breed of the many we have in the mountains. It was magical and extremely fascinating to watch and hear the beautiful sounds they make as they fly overhead in the hundreds and roost in the pine trees for the evening. You have to arrive right at sunset to see these beautiful Macaws, or any of the other of the parrot species getting ready to sleep until they depart early the next day to go down and eat fruit off of our many fruit trees in Colombia.
We then climbed higher to see El Chalet a house built many years ago during the war but is now a wonderful place to view the Valle del Cauca and see many other species of birds. To get to the parrots you have to travel directly into the jungle and the road is narrow and not paved. We cross streams, and one side is a the view of the Valle del Cauca and the other side is the mountain that the road winds around. Quite steep, and you have to be ready for a bumpy ride.
In this photo at night you can see a peek of how the chalet had beautiful arches and great design once long ago before it became abandoned and now is a place to bring tourists for sightseeing. We were not disappointed: as we drove up there was a large Fawn breasted Tanager sitting on a fence post. For your information we were at an altitude of between 7000 to 8000 feet above sea level, or around 2.500 meters.
I could not get a good photo because it was getting dark, but we sure enjoyed the views and sounds of all the parrots and other night birds that call each other. Then off we went in the dark through the jungle back down the winding bumpy steep mountain trail.
This is what the side of the road looks like and you can see a peek of the full moon
As we slowly ventured back down we had our eyes peeled for the famous Barrenquero bird of this region. We were going very slow as they come out at night and often land right in front on the road to catch an insect. It was a full moon so we had light from the truck headlights and the beautiful moon. Then the truck just quit. No reason that we could think of because we keep the truck in tip-top shape. It had just been checked out by our wonderful local mechanic and was given a thumbs up just a week before. So there we are in the middle of the jungle, and stopped in darkness. No signal on my cell phone, my business associate did have data and was able to use Whatsapp. Then along comes our friend on his motorcycle and he quickly got in contact with our mechanic who would come up on his motorcycle. Remember, only motorcycles or 4 x 4 can travel here. As we waited I had looked at the time the truck stopped and until we would be fixed and on our way again. I was just curious as one of my last visits in the USA I had a rental car that did the same thing, and it took over 3 hours to get the help.
As we waited a truck came up with some older men. They stopped because that is how it is here in the mountains of Colombia. Everyone helps each other. They decided to try to jump-start the truck! Myself and my two lovely guests said “No, we are getting out!” Remember it is dark and we are going downhill on a bumpy road! This did not work, and the road was so narrow the jumper cables were not going to be able to be used. Meanwhile, more of my friends had been contacted including one of my dearest friends who does have a 4 x 4 also. Help was on the way! As those who are adventure travel enthusiasts know, this is all part of the experience. Also, everyone knows your car can break down anywhere in the world. But to break down in total darkness in the jungle was certainly exciting and also educational. Educational because many people think Colombia is dangerous. This story describes the actual reality of how Colombian people are wonderful, and the safety of Colombia should not be questioned now.
The local mechanic came with a new battery to replace my battery which I had just bought not even 3 months before. He determined it was the combination of the 4 x 4, the extra headlights I have in front between the headlights called explorers and the drag on the engine. We got the car up and running in 1 hour from the very beginning. Our mechanic followed us down to the local pueblo Arenillo where they were having a fun festival of the fish trout, called Feria de la trucha de Arenillo. We stopped and bought carne a la llanera a specialty of this area. We bought for all the people who helped us especially the family of my mechanic. They are really good people.
Then we went on our way after my guests toured the festival bit, and my mechanic waited and followed us. My best friend showed up with his truck and we said “thank you we are on our way, gracias a dios!” We just had a few more miles to get to at Villa Miglelita Ecolodge.
We were going to drive the truck down first thing in the morning to get the new battery back and go on another adventure. Aiyiyi. The moment we left and started to climb the truck died again. Armando came right back and they determined a belt was broken, and he brought a member of his family to take us up to my Villa. The truck stayed with him.
Now we get to the comedy of errors. It was ok up until now. We had adventure, we had my friends meeting my guests at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, we had not much inconvenience, just a little waiting. The car that came was so old and little, I have no idea what kind it was, but all cars are older here. It made it up to the steepest part and stopped. We had to get out and walk the rest of the way to Villa Miglelita. I am still laughing from this last part, although it was scary too.
He turned around and went down the mountain as our adventure continued. The full and very beautiful moon was as bright as any flashlight. We were almost to the Villa and in the road we see three cows, alas but one was a bull. Now I know I say how friendly the cattle are here. Well, this bull was in the middle of the road head down, ready to charge. Us women ran to the side of the road next to the cows. My business associate is yelling at the bull to leave, clapping hands and more. Then a motorcycle came by. The driver asked “este tauro es bravo?” I said very loudly “si bravo y necisito tu ajuda!” He turned around and with my business associate scared that bull back to the property it lives at. Someone had opened the gate, as a prank, but it was not funny!
We arrived home and just laughed and laughed at the events as they unfolded. This is life in Colombia, this is the life I live. This is what I enjoy. Even while we were looking at the mountain and trees to climb to get away from the angry bull.
My guests are still talking of the wonderful time they had even with the all the complications that arose. They said it was the time of their life. So now today we are off on a horseback riding adventure. Remember we give you what you ask for and sometimes more than you ask for at Villa Migelita Ecolodge!
I am always hiking near my Villa . I can’t give an exact amount of days per week. It depends on my hair. Yes it does. I am after all still a woman who likes my hair and nails to be perfect, even if I live in the Rainforest. Yes, I am revealing something about myself. I usually walk on days I have to wash my hair. OH, so you think why do we need to know this? Because you do. I live in the forest. I am not always interacting with others. I like being alone. I like reading, I love writing and I love my space. I really love being alone. I worked for years as a flight attendant. I don’t care if I hear a bunch of people complaining ever again!
“Worry less about what you want to be, and more about what you want to do.” – President Barack Obama in Chicago today. I love this quote because it describes me and my life to perfection. I want to be successful in my small business. But if I am not I can accept that. I want to be immersed in nature as an avid photographer. I love getting up early and going out on my own with one of my dogs to walk and photograph the beauty that surrounds me. Photography is part of me. I am part of the photos I take on my hikes. I see people and talk to them. There is no such thing as a Colombian who ignores someone they pass, whether in an office, or on the street. Even if they dislike you they acknowledge you. I find that a wonderful way to live. What is the use of hurting others? With that I share some photos of my life around and about as an avid photographer and the life I lead as an expat.
These photos are from an incredible hike I took in a park here in Colombia called Quebrada Perico, near Buenaventura, Colombia. It is the definition of a quest and one of the most difficult hikes I have ever done. It is a climb up waterfalls, mountains and natural pools.
Adventure travel does not do justice to the beauty and bio-diversity of Colombia.All of the images above are from a day filled with memories and adventure. The country of Colombia is full of fun and excitement. Every department has so much to offer.
I had a bucket list adventure with my best friend recently. It was something I thought about for over five years. I finally did it, and believe me that day we left I was in a panic. Who jumps off a mountain? How could I commit to this? YIKES! I have to admit I always thought this when I take my guests on the Parapente adventure here at Villa Migelita. I would say ‘Oh, wow this is the most famous sport for our area of Colombia!” While I was thinking OMG I am not brave enough for this! Guess what? I was fine. I committed to it because my best friend and his partner were here and I thought ‘now or never’ because if I was going to do this it would be with my best friend. I did it. I still feel elated and surprised by such an amazing experience and will always recommend it for everyone who visits because now I have done it.
It was a very peaceful experience for me. It was not scary. It was a gentle lift and I was soaring over our precious Earth, looking down as if I was an astronaut in a space shuttle. I felt as if I was a flight attendant looking out of the window of the airplane after we took off when I worked for Delta. It was so harmonious with what I believe in. It was the Universe and being in touch with the cosmos. It was quiet, it was tranquil, it was not a rapid descent but a very slow floating above the beauty of the mountains. I never even had a flutter of trepidation when my pilot strapped me into the little chair I sat in. I just lifted up like a cloud into the sky before I even thought that I was leaving the mountain.
With all the Parapente offered here in Colombia, you can enjoy a ride like my best friend who went all in for a ride of a lifetime, with a lot of turns and ups, downs and roller coaster adventure. You can do what I did and just float down to the ground enjoying the views while the cool air brushes against your face. It is about what you want. I highly recommend this wonderful sport to anyone. I see young children on the Parapente all the time. Anyone, any age can do this. It is not an extreme sport it is a gentle passage into the sky that will leave you breathless with excitement and wanting to do it again!
Here in Colombia we have dinnertime at 1 pm. We have a light meal in the evening, and all of nature is continuously grazing. So why not us humans? I am a grazer, I admit that. I have never been one to sit down and eat all that is on my plate. So I relate to the cattle or horses I see wandering the roads here in the mountains of Colombia. I never finish a meal, never … something is always left on my plate! So I relate to grazing animals, and wish I could graze forever. Thank goodness I have someone who finishes my meals for me. LOL! I leave whatever I don’t want to eat, always. I am not a person to say ‘finish your meal’ never ever! Grazing is my dinnertime.
The weather in the country of Colombia is so diverse. If you visit Bogotá you will get very cool weather year round. If you come to my area the Valle del Cauca you will get summer weather year round, if you go to Pasto, Colombia in the Andes mountains you will find snow and really cold temperatures. This is Colombia! We are one of the most diverse countries on this Earth!
You can go to any of the 95 departments of Colombia and find a different climate…in my area it is always spring like weather. This photo of a beautiful Monarch Butterfly was taken by me today while on an eco-tour of my area. We offer the most amazing adventures that only can be experienced and seen in person to understand how wonderful it is to visit Colombia. This butterfly just showed up on a hike. You can sit a while and see so many birds. Or you can visit a neighbor and find them tilling their land by bulls because their property does not have access by car. This is Colombia. This is Magical Realism.Come visit my Bed and Breakfast for a feast of the eyes, the food, the nature and the beauty.
I can see many alphabet letters in this painting of a brightly colored lizard. It is almost like that book Where’s Waldo. You have to look carefully to see them, but they are there. I see many O’s (but one is quite distinct), a G, lot’s of V’s and a C in the same place the G is. Can you see them too? Looking at art painted as murals in the San Antonio district of Cali,Colombia is one of my favorite tourist adventures.
Then there is this crazy, scary clown trash receptacle. I see them all over Colombia and I can’t imagine a child wanting to deposit trash in it’s mouth! However, I like the look of the waste container next to the sign that points to the bathrooms -> baños! Something is so interesting in this photo with the play equipment in the background. To me, it is the horror of the clown alongside the playground. Can you tell I don’t like clowns? Especially the way it says Para la Basura (for the trash) with the huge hole in the center!
Finally, I love this photo of my feet on my astrology sign written in Spanish. It makes me smile. Just wandering around taking photos, you never know how delightful they will be until you look at them.
Merry Hummingbird Christmas from Villa Migelita! We have hummingbirds year round. Come visit beautiful Colombia and stay with us at Villa Migelita. We are a personalized Bed and Breakfast with superior service to our guests. Relax and enjoy our hummingbirds while being surrounded by nature and mountains. If adventure travel is your idea of a good time you will love it here! We have many fun tourist activities that we can share with you, along with a Spanish/English speaking guide. Book today for the holidays. Click this link to see the Gif I made of one of my many hummingbirds!
If you love adventure, if you love nature, if you love the outdoors then Colombia is the place to visit. As I become more fluent in the language of Spanish I have joined groups that go on great explorations of natural reserves, parks and protected areas in Colombia. My most recent hike was an 8 hour walk up a waterfall. It included wading in water up to my waste, climbing up areas washed out by rain and water, and making sure I didn’t step on slippery rocks. Was it worth the time? Most definitely! I felt very accomplished when I finished. It was a day I can cross off a bucket list of things I have always wanted to do.
It started with a bus ride that was 2 hours from Cali to Quebrada Perico a natural reserve on the way to Buenaventura, Colombia. Buenaventura is a Pacific coast town where all the goods that are shipped into Colombia from the Pacific enter. When I moved to Colombia this is where my shipped items arrived. This town thrived after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. It is a bustling town that serves the best seafood you will ever taste.
The bus ride was so comfortable and it seemed so quick. We left early meeting in Cali, Colombia at 6 am. We stopped once so everyone could get coffee and breakfast at a small roadside shop…and then I reclined my greyhound size seat and watched the scenery of beautiful huge mountains and rivers on the way to our destination. We all got our gear together and met in front of our bus to get a “talk” about safety and believe it or not, a short exercise segment which included Yoga moves and stretches. Then we all had to count off in numbers so we knew exactly how many were with the tour and no one would be left on our adventure into the Rainforest. We were like soldiers marching in single file as we started. We all looked so fresh and clean. That would change. The first thing I noticed is the path is very narrow as we started our journey. I really had no idea about this hike except that I would see waterfalls, which I love. I did not know I would be hiking through many small waterfalls or in Spanish cascadas, which means cascades.
We all were trying to keep up with each other as there were many of us….but that changed a bit as it got more difficult. The guides spaced themselves evenly throughout our group to help those having difficulty. I was very happy to have my hiking stick! It became slippery and dangerous at spots. I realized some of our group were out of their league quickly. I am very cautious because I was diagnosed with Vertigo two years ago. I am much better (thanks to a lot of therapy and YOGA) but I still need my hiking stick for security and especially on a hike this extreme. I wore loose, baggy clothing and my hiking shoes meant for water. There is an absolute need for the correct equipment on hike like this, and that includes the right clothing, and backpacks with all the necessities. Some people wore swimsuits under their clothes, however not necessary nor needed…just jump in and keep going was the way to be on this fun hike. I became more secure as I walked because I was taking my time. I realized not every person was on the same level, and I surely was not trying to prove anything to anyone! As my friend and hiking buddy has always said to me ‘we are not in a competition” and that is the truth. I took my time and I stopped when I wanted to take photos, and when I needed to just look at the beauty of the Rainforest. The most amazing photo I took was of these leaves from the plant called Christ’s Tears here in Colombia. The flora in Colombia is amazing and miraculous!
The fun of swimming in the natural pools along the way up was so much fun. We would just jump in and swim. The water is crystal clear and the temperature of the water perfect. Then to sit on a rock and have lunch while watching butterflies and birds fly by is surely what being one with the Universe means. I have never seen lava rock like there was along this journey. This hike was Paradise for sure. When we reached the top we all had our picnic lunch with us in our backpacks, and we ate with gusto. Then we swam some more in the natural pools surrounding us while hearing the gushing of the waterfalls that fed them. We had a nice break and were ready to head down. The walk down was not bad, and then the last waterfall came into view. A spectacular flowing splendor of nature that took my breath away.
I had my canteens with me, water in one and wine in the other. The perfect spot to sit and sip wine and have the spray of this fall hit my face. A point in time that will be forever in my soul. I was one with nature and my surroundings, in a place of peace and contentment. When we continued I felt sad the day was almost over. We progressed down the skinny path, stopping to look at trees with huge roots, nests made by ants, tree formations that you can only see when immersed in the Rainforest.
As we became closer to the end of our hike, I could hear the sounds of civilization again. I was sad to leave the wonder of the jungle, but happy to be able to change into dry clothes and get comfy on the bus ride back to Cali. The bus ride went by quickly, and I was home to Villa Migelita and in bed by 9:30 pm. Not bad for a day that felt like I had voyaged to another dimension. Anyone who visits Colombia can partake in adventure like this. It is part of the magical realism of the country. There are so many undertakings I have yet to experience! I can’t wait until my next one!