After sleeping in yesterday we were advised to get up really early as the cloud forest is renowned for great mornings and very rainy afternoons being a cloud forest and all. So based on that, we set our alarms for 5am and arranged breaky for 6am. IT RAINED ALL NIGHT AND DOWNPOURED THIS MORNING.
So even after waking up in the middle of the night by the time we left the house was about 8am and today we wanted to hike the Hacienda San Vicente nature trails or the Yellow house to us non Spanish speakers.
This place has been described as: ‘A place of un-equalled beauty and natural richness. It has one of the richest variety of birds, butterflies, including ones with transparent wings, animals, plants, mushrooms, wild flowers, including orchids and bromelias karatas. Beautiful rivers. With its own rain forest inside its property, the “Hacienda San Vicente” is one of the best known birding localities in Ecuador’’ – so we had to go!
As it was our first morning in Mindo, we treated ourselves to a longish lie and had breaky at 8am. Spoilt with fresh fruits, smoothies, pastries and scrambled eggs we stuffed our tunnies and headed on an adventure to the waterfalls. There are two roads out into the Mindo-Nambillo nature reserve. If you aren't bombarded with signs advertising the waterfalls and canopying, you're on the wrong road, but as it was a 5km walk uphill to get to the start of the waterfall walk we hopped in a taxi which cost us $6USD.
I complained to Leo that it was expensive until we started the ascend and I realized that every time a taxi drove this road it was guaranteed to damage the vehicle – the road was useless and filled with holes.In NZ we love chasing waterfalls and visiting as many as possible and on this walk alone there are 7 overall ranging in size and depending how long you want to walk.
At the top we decided to do the walk first to Nambillo, one of the largest waterfalls before later catching the Tarabita – Cable car. It takes about 1 hour to hike to the Nambillo waterfall and will cost $3USD per person to enter this side of the park. It’s such a beautiful walk, filled with nature, lush green forest, a fantastic rope swing and plenty of questionable areas of path.
Upon arrival, there is a beautiful waterfall – Nambillo which was absolutely bursting at the seams as we have had so much rain, as well as a toboggan which you can shoot down straight into the falls. It looked like instant death to us and luckily it was closed as 100% Leo would have given it a go.
What was open unfortunately was the 12m death drop. I have never seen anything like it. You jump from 12m into the actual waterfall and the white water rapids below. Now these falls reminded us both of Huka falls in NZ or any other white-water rafting river so I laughed knowing neither of us would do it…however, Leo wanted to.
When we started planning this trip nearly a year ago I always knew that Mindo had to make the cut based on it’s location, the things to do here and how beautiful it looked from our research.
Full of lush greenery, exotic wildlife, and vibrant Ecuadorian culture, a visit to Mindo can be thrilling to the senses yet soothing to the soul at the same time.
Where is it, you ask? Nestled in the heart of Ecuador’s Cloud Forest, Mindo is a little oasis of thriving natural beauty. From Quito, we headed in an Uber to Terminal La Ofelia which has busses about 5 times a day to Mindo for only $3.10USD pp and takes around 2 hours.
We have planned 3 nights here and 2 full days as the town of Mindo is quite small, so we hoped that this would be the perfect amount of time to soak up the sights and take advantage of all the activities, while still having some downtime to relax and unwind a but as the past few weeks have been full on to say the least.
We did it! After my initial panic about altitude sickness, not being fit enough and the weather conditions we can successfully say that we reached base camp of the Cotopaxi Volcano, the second highest in the world! WOOHOO, what a bloody achievement. I am so proud of both of us as it is by far not an easy stroll.
The trip itself was great, we left at 7am from across town so grabbed an uber for $2.33USD – winning! then made our way to the National park stopping for breakfast along the way, including getting to pet a Llama and play with some beautiful puppies – my day was already made!
From there it was a good hour drive to the Cotopaxi National park home to the Cotopaxi Volcano. Our guide was amazing and he taught us so much about the culture, flora and fauna, and facts about the National park along the way. Ecuadorians love to connect with their mountain deities and one way to do this is to hike as high as possible There was an eruption in 2015 and since then, the National Park has stopped all climbing to the glacier and the summit of Cotopaxi but has reopened the trail to the Jose Ribas Refuge at 15,973 feet (4,600 meters) which is where we would be hiking to. The hike up is strenuous, requiring good lung capacity, and the views on a clear day are unparalleled. Our weather was incredibly average, snowy, freezing cold and super windy so by the time we hauled our bodies to base camp, my fingers and toes were ready to fall off.
We have made it to the busting city of Quito, gateway to destination 4 – Galapagos islands where we will be spending 1 month starting May 1st.
Over the past 2 days we have been in Santiago, Chile having some well needed rest, sleep and rejuvenation after the past few weeks. Santiago surprised me – It was freezing, that was surprise 1, but the people were unbelievably friendly, the street art was next level amazing (Check the pic below from Paseo Bandera) and the city itself was easily to navigate and full of interesting places and monuments.
We stayed in Hostal Casa de Mosaico in Recoleta ( a neighbourhood with an excellent vibe) and we loved it. We paid $25NZD per night for a huge double room, bathroom and breakfast through Air B N B. The staff were so friendly both in person and through email and spoke fluent English, recommended us exactly what to do and where to eat. We really enjoyed our time here.
Hey! I'm Ally. I left the UK in 2011 to move overseas and ended up in New Zealand - my new home. This year we are taking a gap year to loop the world stopping in some AMAZING destinations - and I'm passionate about sharing these adventures with you!