A couple of days after visiting the centre of the earth I got the early bus to Mindo for a spot of adventuring in the cloud forest. Mindo is the perfect way to escape Quito for a couple of days. Famous for adventure activities, chocolate, and butterflies Mindo can be as relaxing or exciting as you want.
To get the bus from Quito to Mindo – in fact any bus out of Quito – is a mission because the size of the city necessitates a northern and southern bus terminal (Mindo is from the north with Flor del Valle) and sometimes your destination is a stop on another route. The terminal is an expensive taxi or a long-ass bus ride from any hostel so plan ahead. I had to be rushed from the northern terminal in a taxi to overtake my bus and get picked up along the way because I suck at planning ahead. A warning here: one girl on our supposedly safe bus had her DSLR lifted from her bag by some sneakily proficient thieves. Be careful kids.
Once I arrived in Mindo, along with a group of strangers I booked in for ziplining and tubing, all up a $26 package. The rain made things a little dicey on the zipline and the fog added an element of “holy shit what am I doing” but it was well worth the money. We were soaring through and above lush green forest at decent speeds for over an hour. Mindo is known among adventurous (read: all) backpackers for excellent ziplining and I can see why; I’m really glad I didn’t drop $35 for a mediocre experience on the way to Machu Picchu.
We all hopped in a car and let the adrenaline recede on the way to the river tubing. All of us were expecting a chilled out ride floating down a meandering river. Nope. We were met with a strapped-together tube monstrosity and told to hold on tight while our guide thrashed us down the river, over rapids, into rocks, spinning and tilting the whole way. It was only 20 minutes but that was enough white-knuckle fun for my day. Twenty six dollars very well spent.
I was happy to head back to Casa de Piedra with my new gringa volunteer doctor friend and chill in a hammock. The next day we tried to go hiking but unfortunately all the routes have entry fees which, including taxis, approached $20 so instead we wandered outside the town and made friends with a lot of dogs. There is also the option to visit the butterfly house if you’re into that kind of thing.
I didn’t fully appreciate Mindo until I got back to Quito, stepped off the bus, and tasted city air thick with petrol fumes and noise. I was back to meet Mette who had been following me since we accidentally reunited in Arequipa after months apart, but I wouldn’t be hanging around long. There were some more parties and iced coffees, then I was on a bus north. I was Colombia bound.
Thanks to Fiona for a bunch of the Mindo photos. Sorry your camera got nicked.