In search for a special way to celebrate Christmas, a few colleagues and I ended up going to the cloudforest around Mindo. A straightforward drive took us from around 2800 metres altitude of Quito to 1300 at Mindo, and a remarkable change in scenery, in just under two hours. Where our car stopped, our first surprise was that we had to load our luggage (and ourselves!) onto a wooden bench, that was moved across a cold-water river to the peaceful enclave of a lovely lodge. We dropped our stuff, and were soon out with a young local guide who took us for a hike up the hill. We arrived at a valley that could only be crossed by an old-fashioned cable car. The views on either side were sweeping, and we enjoyed them, since we knew that we would be enclosed by the cloudforest again during the rest of our hikes.
We descended to the bottom of the valley, and the hike to the first, and most famous, waterfall was much shorter than anticipated. People used to jump down the falls, but this was no longer allowed following an accident. Some were wading through the river to get close to the falls that came thundering down the rocks, but we thought the scenery was tainted by screaming kids, and headed back the same trail. We continued the same path to other falls, and were happy to find several more falls in a much more natural setting. Some were rapids, one was a tall waterfall in a narrow basin where the spray of the water swirled around, causing a mysterious mist. We were just in time to catch a well-deserved lunch in the zen-setting of the lodge, and to get ready for afternoon activities.
Some of us stayed behind, but the others went past the town of Mindo to get a first-hand experience of zip-lining. It had started to rain, and it seemed like a good idea to zip down the lines that have been spanned across valleys of the rainforest. It turned out to be fun, but the weather conditions made sure we did not have great views while sailing through the water-filled air. The walk back to our place for the night was well-timed, as the rain had all but stopped, and we arrived at the river-crossing just before the last daylight had disappeared. After a good night sleep, we were up early, and went for a pre-breakfast hike through the cloudforest where birds and other animals were clearly awake, judged by the noise they were producing. After breakfast, the owners took us on a short expedition to track down the small frog that is endemic to this region; and to our surprise they found this tiny black-and-yellow creature in a matter of minutes. The sun was out, the animals were calling us, but unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to this small paradise.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mindo Cloudforest (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mindo Cloudforest.
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