This past weekend I traveled with fourteen other people from my program to Mindo. Mindo is a quaint little town located north of Quito in the Andean foothills. We arrived in Mindo on Friday morning after a two hour bus ride and went straight to our hostel, Bio Hostal. This was my first experience staying at a hostel and it honestly was way better than I expected. The hostel had different areas inside and out with hammocks, the rooms were very clean, and they even provided breakfast every morning. The best part was that it was extremely cheap.
After we got settled at the hostel, we grabbed some lunch and headed out to Hostería Mariposas de Mindo, a butterfly reserve. We saw hundreds of butterflies of all different kinds; I don’t even like insects and I thought it was pretty neat. Once our time at the butterfly reserve was finished we went to our next activity, tubing, via taxi (which in Mindo means a pickup truck where we all stand in the back of it).
Tubing in Ecuador is definitely not the same thing as in the U.S. In my past experiences tubing has been going to camp or someone’s lake house and being pulled in a tube behind a boat. It’s been a very common summer activity in my life so when I heard we were going tubing I thought I knew what was about to happen. I was very wrong. What tubing meant here was tying six inner-tubes together, having each of us sit in the middle of them, going down a river with boulders and rapids, and having two guides jumping around the tubes and into the water to push us off of the boulders. It was quite the adrenaline rush and was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
When tubing was over we went back to the hostel, changed into dry clothes, and then a group of us went to a café that had the best brownies I have ever eaten. They make their chocolate on site and as a result have the richest brownies around. So if you’re searching for the place that has the greatest brownie/chocolate on earth, head to Mindo. The rest of the day was pretty much just dinner and playing cards together since we were exhausted.
On Saturday morning I went for a hike at 6:00 a.m. with some friends where we saw various tropical birds in the Nambillo Cloud Forest. Even though it was an early day, it was a great way to see the beauty of Mindo. After we hiked for about an hour we took the terabita (a cable car) through the mountains to get to the other side of the cloud forest. On this side we hiked for a few hours to multiple waterfalls. It was a challenging hike because there were continuous changes in going up and down stairs, but it was definitely worth it for the views.
We were finished hiking around 1:30 p.m., so we went back into town, had some hamburgers for lunch, then all parted ways to relax. My friend Emily and I went back to the café for another brownie (they’re just too good) and sat outside, enjoying the fresh air and rest. We didn’t do much the rest of the day until we went to dinner and then had our first experience at a discoteca where we danced to Spanish electronica music.
Our final day in Mindo consisted of breakfast, stopping one more time for brownies and chocolate, having a quick bite to eat, then saying goodbye to Mindo and heading back to Quito. I absolutely loved Mindo and would highly recommend this place to everyone because it has plenty to do if you want to relax or if you want to be more adventurous. I hope that I can travel there again this semester, but until then it’s back to school and on to new weekend excursions.