I’m splayed out, face first, belly down, strapped to a cable suspended high above the ground and surrounded by lush green forest. The guide strapped in behind me is counting “uno, dos…” and when he reaches “tres” he pushes off from the wooden platform. I gasp as we zoom through the air.
My arms spread wide, my hair blowing everywhere, the harness straps squeezing my thighs, I gaze into the deep chasm below me. The vast expanse between the two zipline platforms is filled with lush green trees and tumbling rocky creeks and I am high above them, soaring through the air like Peter Pan.
Zipping through the Cloud Forest
Ziplining in the canopy of the cloud forest is one of the many fun things we did in Mindo, Ecuador. This cool and green town was a refreshing break from the sweltering heat of Ecuador’s coast and a great place to chill out for a while. We stayed in a lovely hostel called Casa de Piedra which had a swimming pool, a large garden area and a very friendly chicken who would sleep on the sofa like a dog. (One morning she started clucking like mad and I looked over to see that she had laid an egg! The hostel staff just shook their head and said, “el pollo es muy loca!”)
There are a few different options to choose from when it comes to zip lines in Mindo, but we chose Mindo Canopy Adventures because it had a good safety ranking and positive reviews online.
The zip lines were a little more nerve wracking and higher up in the treetops than I thought they would be. They are also very long, sometimes stretching across an entire valley and leaving you suspended in the air for what feels like an eternity – long enough to think about the long drop to the forest floor.
We had done zip lining before in New Zealand so we knew what to expect, but even if it is your first time the friendly guides will show the ropes – pardon the pun. An important tip: lean back as much as possible and it will help you to change your centre of gravity and stay more balanced.
You will receive a pair of thick gloves that you can use to grip the rope and slow yourself down. It was nervous the first time but after a few times I was comfortable jumping off the platform face-first superman-style. The flying sensation was unforgettable – I felt like a bird soaring through the lush green forest canopy.
A Sweet Afternoon at a Chocolate Farm
I’m a full blown chocoholic, so spending a day touring a chocolate farm at El Quetzal de Mindo is a dream come true for me. In fact, I even had a hot chocolate while I was waiting for the tour to start – just in case there wasn’t enough chocolate on the tour.
Luckily I had no need to worry, the chocolate tour included enough tasting opportunities to satisfy even the most addicted chocolate lover.
We got to see the entire process of producing a chocolate bar, from growing the cacao beans to drying them in the sun to picking the best ones by hand. Then, we watched the beans being blended into smooth, luscious dark chocolate.
On the tour you get a chance to taste the raw chocolate without any sugar added. It’s so incredibly bitter that my mouth immediately puckered up and went dry.
We had to add spoonful after spoonful to a cup of the liquid strong dark chocolate until it started to taste like you would expect it to.
Of course, my favourite part was the delectable chocolate brownie that was wonderfully moist and rich. I had to bring home a few bars of the chocolate… it would be rude not to!
Whether you are the type who loves nature adventures or you simply want a quiet place to chill, I definitely recommend making time for Mindo when you are in Ecuador. It’s only a couple of hours from Quito, so if you are staying in the capital it makes for the perfect weekend trip.
Mindo is a fantastic place to try zip lining, to get sugar high on amazing chocolate, nap in a hammock, swim in the pool on a sunny afternoon – or just make friends with an affectionate chicken (what do you mean that isn’t on your bucket list?).
Is Ecuador in your travel plans? Let us know in the comments below.