We are back in Quito for a night after our weekend journey to Mindo. The lush green, tropical cloud-forest was a pleasant sight after two straight weeks in the city (although Quito is a beautiful city). Once our bus arrived in Mindo, we walked aimlessly for a bit trying to find our hostel because the streets are without names. Eventually, we found our way...... make a left at the corner where the woman is grilling plantains and various meats, then a right onto the dirt road after the soccer field, and the hostel will be on the left. Easy enough. We arrived at Cabanas Armonia in due time and we were greeted by our lovely host, Alicia Toapanta, who showed us to our wooden cabana (complete with hammock) in the orchid garden. She and her family run the cabanas and we never saw Alicia without a smile.
|Swinging in the rain(forest)|
|No shoes, no worries|
Mindo is known as the birding capital of Ecuador, boasting hundreds of bird species, many on the verge of extinction. Along with the birds, there are butterflies and beautiful flowers and foliage everywhere. The town is also known for adventure-type activities including river tubing, repelling, zip-lining, and hiking. We opted for the hiking, the only activity that did not require a guided tour. We set off on foot after breakfast on Saturday morning to explore some waterfalls. We walked for about an hour and a half up (and let me stress UP) a winding dirt road deeper and deeper into the cloud-forest. We eventually made our way to part one of our destination, the Tarabita. We were expecting a short jaunt across a river on a metal, cage-like contraption. Well, we were right about the cage-like contraption and could not have been more wrong about where it took us. The hop over a river we were expecting was actually a half-mile journey, hundreds of feet above the forest. It was an absolutely crazy experience we'll never forget.
|Tarabita, more like Terrifying.|
Way higher and scarier than it looks. We promise.
Once across, we hiked another 45 minutes to Cascada Reina, a stunning 50' waterfall. There was nobody else in sight and we felt like we had just discovered this magical valley. Along the trail we saw butterflies flurry, heard birds sing, and had gorgeous views of the forest canopy. After visiting Cascada Reina, we headed to another waterfall an hour away before hopping on for round two of the terrifying Tarabita. We walked back to our hostel to in what was a six hour round trip. It was an all-around epic journey and we
have sore legs and butts today. We couldn't be happier.
|Trail to Cascada Reina|
|What is awaiting atop those steps?|
|A beautiful girl and waterfall!|
Tomorrow morning we start our journey towards Peru. Our first stop is the very small village of El Chaupi, just outside of Cotopaxi National Park. We hope to do some hiking and get some great views of Ecuador's
second highest volcanic peak (19,347 ft).
|Front Porch Mindo|