We spent a long weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado and one of our main priorities was to get out and do some hiking. Breckenridge has many options for hiking trails, so we chose one that was near where we were staying called Burro Trail. The trail is considered moderate and has some beautiful scenery, including following a stream for much of it. The overall elevation gain wasn’t too bad, although it was steep in some places, which is pretty normal for any hike in the Colorado mountains.
In order to get to the trailhead, we had to take a smaller trail that wound its way through the woods near our condominium. Although not part of Burro Trail, it was also quite beautiful, winding through meadows, woods, and crossing several streams. Once on the actual trail, we hiked through pine tree forests and saw a variety of wildflowers as well as some wild berries. The weather was absolutely perfect with mild temperatures and sunny skies. Burro Trail is an “out and back” trail that is a little over 6 miles in length if you do the entire trail. We didn’t go to the very end, but close enough to give us a good 3 1/2 hour hike.
As with many trails in the mountains, we came across a few other hikers, but for the most part we were alone to enjoy the tranquility of nature. We didn’t come across any wildlife during our hike, but we were told that moose are particularly active around Breckenridge this time of year. With such beautiful scenery, Burro Trail was a perfect hike to start our time in Breckenridge. It was strenuous enough to get our legs tired and earn a couple of craft beers.
We have been fortunate enough to take several trips to Central and South America, including Bolivia, Ecuador, and Panama. During each of the trips, we specifically made a point of getting into the jungle and seeing different wildlife and plants. Each of them was unique in their own ways and we stayed in eco lodges in both Bolivia and Ecuador. Many of these experiences were quite unique and we have many wonderful memories. Here are some of our favorite rainforest adventures that we’ve had during our travels.
Monkey Islands in Panama– One of the most interesting things that we did during our time in Panama was to take a boat passed the famous locks and going to the Monkey Islands. Our boat would pull up to the islands and the monkeys would climb down from the trees to take grapes and bananas from our hands. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t do that, but since the monkeys rely on humans for the survival, we felt okay with the experience.
Visiting Carrasco National Park in Bolivia – Our first Amazon experience was during our trip to Cochabamba when we stayed at an eco lodge and spent a day hiking through Carrasco National Park. We climbed into caves with different varieties of bats, blind birds called Guacharos, poisonous frogs, as well as snakes. It was definitely an interesting way to get introduced to the Amazon Jungle.
Staying at the Napo Wildlife Center in Ecuador – After our experiences in Bolivia, we chose to go even deeper into the jungle during our trip to Ecuador. We spent several days at the Napo Wildlife Center, which is an eco lodge sitting on a lake with caiman, birds, monkeys, and giant river otters. Every day, we would get up early and go into the rainforest to experience different wildlife.
Traveling on the Amazon River – We spent time on a motor boat as well as canoe on the tributaries of the Amazon river. After flying into the tiny town of Coca, Ecuador, we took a boat down the Amazon River where we then got out and hiked to get to our canoes. To say that it was a fascinating experience would certainly be an understatement.
Visiting Indigenous Villages – We went to indigenous villages in both Panama as well as Ecuador and each was a truly special experience. The local tribes are very friendly and happy to welcome you into their village where they share their traditions, art, and lifestyles. We even danced with the local Emberá tribe members during our time in Panama, which was something we will forever treasure. We know that these types of opportunities are dwindling over time, so it is important to take advantage of any chance that you happen to get.
Bird Watching in the Rainforest – With over a thousand species of birds in the Amazon Rainforest, the opportunities to see birds a quite diverse. We climbed to the top of the forest canopy in Ecuador to see different colorful birds including macaws, toucans, and parrots. Going the parrot clay licks and seeing so many different parrots feeding on the mineral rich soil was absolutely amazing.
Fort San Lorenzo in Panama – Going the fort that was captured by the famous Captain Morgan, which is located in the jungles of Panama was a truly educational experience. Whether imagining swash-buckling pirates, canons blasting off of the cliffs, or picturing the ships traveling down the Chagres River, it is something worth making the effort to see when planning a trip to Panama.
Obviously we hope to spend more time in different rainforests in other parts of the world. There is such a diversity in the biology of the jungle that it really takes several days to truly get an understanding of everything that there is to see. If you ever get a chance to spend a few nights in the rainforest, we’d highly recommend it as it allows you to see it both during the day, but also at dawn and dusk when the animals are the most active.
There are several cities with wonderful botanical gardens, but we believe that the Denver Botanic Garden is one of the best. Between the tropical flowers, rotating art displays, and special events, there is always something interesting to see at the garden. We especially enjoyed the variety of colorful orchids that we saw during our visit there. It is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, walking the flower lined paths and seeing the gardens dedicated to different regions around the world. The Denver Botanic Garden will often create displays on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver to allow shoppers to see some of the wonderful flowers that can be found in the gardens. If you are planning a trip to Denver, we’d definitely recommend that you consider adding the Botanic Gardens to your itinerary.