Ecuador was the second country along my South America route and by the time I arrived in Mindo, I’d already been rapelling down Juan Curi waterfall and paragliding in San Gil, Colombia. You might think all of this adventure would have prepared me for zip lining, but when it came down to it, I was still petrified!
MINDO CANOPY ADVENTURE
Mindo’s ‘Canopy Adventure’ has 13 different cables adding up to 3500 metres. After the first couple of goes, they ask if you’d like to try a different position. I’d done the ‘superman’ before while zip lining in Costa Rica, so I decided to give the ‘mariposa’ (or butterfly) a try this time. How hard could it be for a hardened zip liner like myself? It turned out to be impossible.
ATTEMPTING THE BUTTERFLY
They attached my harness so that I was facing the wrong way and asked me to lean back. The guide then lifted up my legs and spread them wide in front of his face. As you can imagine, I was already feeling a little uneasy.
Before I’d had a chance to even try out the dangling position, we were accelerating along the line with the guide yelling ‘No manos! No manos!’
Was he fricking kidding me?! The harness felt loose around my waist and legs and I was sure that dangling upside down would lead to me slipping out head first towards the blurry forest beneath.
Instead, I leaned back as far as I could and held my breath as the ground sped by over my head.
HOW IT’S MEANT TO BE DONE
As it turned out, everyone else in my group who tried it was just fine, and I watched each of their cheesy grins as they slid towards me all arms and legs a-flailing.
As you can see from the photo above, the guides have an interesting technique for ensuring that your legs don’t touch the wire as you fly through the canopy!
If zip lining isn’t for you, there are other, more tranquil, activities to enjoy in Mindo. We spent 30 minutes in a butterfly garden where it was possible to watch them hatching from the chrysalis and to hold them on our fingers as they sucked mushed banana through their probosci.
For birders, Mindo Lindo is a must see spot. There’s a centre with lots of identification guides where you can sit sipping tea on a balcony while watching humming birds on feeders just a few feet away.
There are also a number of easy trails into the forest, where it’s possible to spot many interesting bird species, as well as tarantulas and a few mammals too. The twitchers I met there were truly in heaven and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had booked an entire week’s holiday just in that one spot so they could peer through their binoculars until their eyes went numb.
Mindo is a peaceful and beautiful hideaway just a couple of hours outside of Quito. One evening, I found myself alone for 10 minutes in the hostel garden listening to the stream trickle by and watching fire flies light up the night’s sky sporadically.
If you go there, by all means get the adrenaline pumping with a spot of zip lining or river tubing, but make sure you set some time aside to appreciate the natural beauty of Mindo too. It’s a charming spot and one I won’t easily forget.