This weekend my friend and I took a weekend trip to the small town of Mindo, Ecuador, which is a 2.5 hour bus ride out of Quito. The bus, which leaves every hour and costs $2.50, drives on a curvy rode through the mountains, offering breath-taking views of the green land.
A word of advice: Do not fall asleep on the bus or stare out the window too long. The bus driver picks up and drops off people all along the route. My friend didn’t realize until we were at our hostal that someone on the bus had cut a hole into the side of her backpack and stole her estimated $1,000 camera. Always hold your backpack on your lap with your arms safely around it. Never in-between your legs or tucked under the seat in front of you.
After spending a few hours with the Mindo police, attracting quite a few people at the bus station (who later knew us as the (chicas gringas con la camera problema “the white girls with the camera problem) and checking into the Casa de Cecelia hostel (which I highly recommend), we got to exploring some of the Mindo Cloud Forest.
We didn’t do what Mindo is most known for: the butterfly preserve or bird watching. Instead, we opted for the active, adventure tour of Mindo (we already are planning on going back to visit the butterfly preserve and go tubing) and decided on zip-lining in the canopies and hiking to see the waterfalls.
The Mindo Canopy Adventure, which is also the most popular, provides fun and thrilling zip-lining way above the ground below on 13 different cables. None of which require you to slow down. They are just fast enough to enjoy and are long enough to allow you to simply glance around at the mountains and floor below while cruising through the air. Bi-lingual tour guides accompany you the entire time as you hike up and down the mountain trails to each line.
Some cables are long and some are short, providing enough variation to keep it exciting. At one point, they pull up and down on the cable to have you bouncing along to the other side. Another perk that just adds to what this company has to offer is the chance to do two unique forms: the mariposa (butterfly) or the superman.
The mariposa has you flying upside down with your legs straight up (the guide is keeping them steady) in the air and your arms hanging down, so all you see is the sky above you or the grown below, depending on where you’re looking. As for the superman pose, your legs are wrapped around the guide’s waist and you stretch your arms out before you and soar along the cable like the popular hero.
I highly recommend the Mindo Canopy Adventure to anyone visiting Mindo. They are safe and secure, and for $10 USD, make sure everyone has a good time.
The next morning, my friend and I took the Tarabita, or cable car, across the forest to the trail heads that lead to six different waterfalls of equal magnificence.
For $5 USD, hikers can walk through the magical forest covered in moss to each waterfall in the Santuario de Cascadas. To visit each waterfall would take an entire afternoon, which my friend and I sadly did not have. So we chose to go in the direction of where the majority of the falls were in close proximity.
The elevation made the hiking incredibly a mission for someone even in my fit condition. You go over hills and tree roots, up and down stairs, having to be extremely careful because the ground is wet and muddy, making it easy to slip.
The scenery was unbelievably magical. All the vines hanging around made me wonder if I would hear Tarzan’s signature yell “OhhHhHhHh” and see him swinging through the giant trees. Mushrooms are growing on the trunks and all shades of the color wheel seem to paint the plant’s leaves. Along the way, you can hear the rushing water hinting that you are getting closer until you see the wooden, rickety bridge that leads you to the majestic waterfall (or maybe, just maybe the mythical land of Terabithia? I wish).
If the weather cooperated, it will be warm enough to actually get in for a bit to experience the crisp, refreshing water but make sure to cover yourself right back up so the mosquitoes don’t attack!
Here is a complete video of my weekend trip to the Mindo Cloud Forest, a special spot that is becoming known for its eco-tourism and friendly atmosphere.