The Marvel of the Rainforest
The owners of Selva Negra have devoted half a century of their lives to preserving a cloud forest that has evolved over millions of years. Selva Negra maintains more than 20 kilometers of hiking trails through the forest reserve. Our trails weave their way through the entire range of ecosystems in our cloud forest, allowing you to explore its mysteries without disturbing them.
How to get the most out of your hike!
The wildlife in our cloud forest shy from human contact but you can improve your ability to study them by observing a few simple rules. For example:
- Walk slowly and quietly - The less that our species hear you, the more they will reveal themselves.
- Stop, stand, sit - if you stay still for a while, the wildlife will begin to emerge around you.
- Deploy all your senses;
- Listen for the rustling of leaves and the calls of birds and animals
- Look for motion amidst the pattern of rustling leaves and clues along the pathways, such as partly-eaten fruits, tracks and scat
- Breathe the pure, fresh air of the mountains - if you smell a musky aroma, you may be within fifty meters of a wild peccary.
Rest assured -- we designed our trails to keep you safe and out of harm's way. Nonetheless, avoid touching anything that you can't recognize.
- Tropical plants, animals, insects and fungi defend themselves with chemicals mechanisms that can irritate your skin or cause other health problems.
- Avoid touching brightly-colored frogs and insects.
- The Chichicaste tree is pictured here. The people of the mountains call it Picapica ("Stingsting") its leaves and stems can cause a rash. Wash your skin or clothes if they come into contact the plant.
- Never eat anything from the forest.
- Be aware that peccaries, wild animals that look a bit like pigs, get ornery if they think you're threatening their youngsters. An angry peccary woofs like a dog. If a peccary approaches you or you hear that sound, use your common sense - don't make any noise and back off.
The forest darkens early because of the density of the canopy. Give yourself enough time to complete each trail before sunset and carry a flashlight if you set out late.
The Water of Life: Hydrologic Cycle of Cloud Forests
Unlike other rainforests, a cloud forest collects much of the water from mists that condense on tree leaves. The forest works like a sponge that captures the moisture and nutrients in the air within its canopy -- a thick, lush layer of vegetation that stops the water from evaporating and transfers it to the biosphere below. The source of the mist is warm, moist air that cools as it rises from lower elevations.
Plants called epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow on other plants such as trees) play a key role in this cycle of life. Selva Negra's cloud forest protects an astonishing diversity of epiphytes, including rare and endangered orchids, ferns and flowering plants called bromeliads.
Cloud forests act as water reservoirs that nourish other watersheds far away because they spill tons of water into rivers, streams and underground aquifers that flow downstream. During dry seasons, a tropical cloud forest may be the only source of water for watersheds that span thousands of square miles.
Sadly, mere decades of abuse can destroy that which nature took millions of years to create. Over-harvesting of timber and hunting destroys the delicate balance of cloud forests ecosystems, sparking a chain reaction that quickly destabilizes the fragile interdependence of its animals and plants. The owners of Selva Negra are helping turn the tide by acquiring adjoining properties and reforesting them.