We loved Mindo. Just a two hour local bus from Quito through stunning mountains and we are deposited into a tiny town deep within Ecuadorian cloud forest. I think we will come to prefer the cloud forest to the jungle, it’s essentially a tropical jungle with persistent cloud cover, making the place rather wet yet very green.
We had a hostel to ourselves about 5 minutes’ walk from town, a wooden chalet type place with hammocks and an incredible jungle garden out back, with hundreds of humming birds feeding throughout the day. We arrived late at night and the noise from the nearby jungle was incredible. Our room was fairly bug free, but outside insects of all types were circling, smelling fresh meat. We are getting used to being eaten by all manner of things on our trip and sitting in hammock outsides we casually pointed out things crawling and flying around us. It’s only a couple of weeks until we spend some time in the jungle so we have to get used to this.
Dog of the month ( it’s been a while )
Everybody gets up early in Mindo – 6 am is the norm. This place is a birdwatcher’s paradise. We like birds but not as much as the slightly creepy twitchers (the official term for fanatical bird watchers) we see around town. Think Harold Shipman’s face behind binoculars, in a hat, with a big bird book. Pre-dawn is the best time to catch a glimpse of some rare birds.
We however, are on holiday, so get up around 8am. We are going to hike into the cloud forest and swim in some waterfalls before heading out to a butterfly farm. It’s about a 4km walk to the highest waterfall, so we catch a cab as far as possible up a dirt road – on holiday remember – promising ourselves we will walk back down.
The forest is stunning, moss covering almost every tree, and the fauna is almost alien. Walking down the path to the waterfall we come across a natural pool and take a dip. We also discover a manmade water slide cutting through the jungle, ending in a 2-3 metre drop into the plunge pool at the bottom of the waterfall. There is no one about to hear our screams so we give it a shot. The thing is fast, and we survive with only a couple of bleeding elbows.
The driver who dropped us off at the top of the mountain tells us of a better, more beautiful hike back down the mountain and gives us some sketchy details of the route. What he didn’t tell us was the path was obviously abandoned some years back and although stunning involved a little bit of rope work in places. We didn’t get lost and found our way back to the main river, eventually working out how to use a dodgy hand-powered cable car thing to get across the river.
A couple of hours in the butterfly farm and a beer later we are back in town as rain clouds start to build (as they do every day here around 6pm). It’s usual for it not to rain most of the evening.
The town may wake at 6am but sleeps at 8pm. Restaurants start to close with only those with accommodation attached working late. It’s an early night, we are heading back to Quito tomorrow afternoon but not before we decide to walk our way up the mountain road again, feeling a little guilty about the taxi ride. En route we spot a green toucanette ( no picture )and cute red squirrel( no picture) and evil looking spider (below).
This is another place we could easily have spent much more time, but we are on a schedule until our volunteering so back to Quito we go. But before we get on the bus I manage to shoot this video of the hummingbirds feeding in the back garden of our hostel. The first 3-4 minutes is in slo-mo, the last part is normal speed.