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DAY 3 Mindo, Amazon Rainforest Canopy Tour, Ciudad Mitad del Mundo
We were met by our drver Guillermo for our private tour at our hotel at 7:00 am. We started on our 2 hour journey to Mindo and had to go over Pichincha an active volcano that last erupted in October of 1999 which started activity in the ring of vocanos that cross Equador. Looking out the widow in the hotel room you can see the western side which is opposte where caldera exploded. It is over 15,000 ft high and we had to go over it to get to Mindal on a two lane road. When we arrived at Mindo we found a quaint little village with with a cobblestone mine street bordered by wooden colonnades reminicent of an old wester town however the architecture is one of mid 19th century. The standout in the middle of the main street was the beautiful church that was just letting out a Palm Sunday service. We followed the main street colonnades to a central square that had a colorful lanscaping with exoitic plants from the rainforest and a sculpture of a hummingbird feeding it's baby. We had time to visit a small cafe up a dirt side road and had some coffee fried plantains and brownies made from the chocolate they produce. The town of Mindo is known in the region for producing chocolate.
After breakfast we headed up a dirt road into the Mindo Valley. The Mindo Valley is a mountainous watershed in the western slopes of the Andes, where two of the most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world meet: the Chocoan lowlands and the Tropical Andes. We were told it is set in beautiful cloud-forest, and it is surrounded by the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest the forest is home to hundreds of species of birds, many of which are in danger of extinction. After a ten minute drive over the Mindo river where we could see river rafters washing down the choppy waters we arrived at the Canopy Tours of Mindo where we were in a group of 10 people who were going into the rainforest to take 10 zip lines that would traverse the canyons and ravines. This Canopy tour is supposed to be one of the top ten tours in the world. We were at the 10,400 foot elevation at the start of our Canopy tour according to one of our two tour guides. We hiked another 500 ft. The forest was alive with butterflies, and sounds of hundreds of species of birds. We were able even to see a Tucan.
Let the fun begin! Freedom, excitement, exhilaration, thrills, adrenaline rush, it lets the average person feel the closest thing to flying without wings. The exhilarating feeling of soaring through the air can take your breath away. Ziplining is more than being attached to a cable and allowing gravity to pull you to the other side. Its about letting your inner child free, letting yourself laugh and cry and feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins. Its about getting an unforgettable view and in this case it was a view of inexplicable greens of the lush canopy that blanked the rainforest along with the reds and browns of the folage set against the rich blue of the late morning sky. As you fly down the cable you almost bush against the trees as you dive down to the ending platform. Half the fun is to watch and listen to the other members of your tour as they squeal and sometimes scream as they soar over the abyss with increasingly longer, faster and steeper lines. Two hours later we ended our tour with the last line landing where we started. Everyone in the tour group felt a special kinship with each other that comes from being on a unique and exciting adventure.
We said farewell to our guides and left to go back to Mindo to have a lunch. Ziplining can work up an appetite. We found ourselves back in the square and went to a local family run restaurant called El Cheffsito where we had a seasoned broth soup with chicken, plantains, carrots, potatos, peas and yucca heart along with a plate of chicken that was so very flavorful and cookedso it fell of the bone, rice, potatos, and a small salad, which we washed down with refreshing passion fruit juice. The family worked the restaurant ant the three daughters that looked to be ages 8 - 13. served us and we enjoyed watching them teasing, giggling and playing around, but still paying attention to our needs. We were the only ones in the tiny restaurant.
The ziplining was great, the museum fine but i expected more from the chocolate tasting - it was just a coffee and brownie in a cafe. Andres our guide was excelent.
This what a great day! The activities were really awesome and our guide was knowledgeable. At times, our guide seemed a little disengaged and more like a driver than a guide, but overall an exceptional day and very recommendable.
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