Mindo Valley

We had hoped for a peaceful night here on the side of the river, like we had enjoyed last time. Now though it was a Saturday night and at 3am the local teenagers turned up to turn on all their special aftermarket LEDs and speaker systems right next to us. At the same time, as if this wasn’t enough they went swimming in freezing cold stream too, with much screaming. They did this for about 20 minutes before the police came and kicked them out, we were delighted, especially when the police left us alone. The teens however must have thought we were the ones to rat them out to the cops and they were back at about 6.30am to ‘have the last word’ which also involved turning the music back on and throwing up next to the van. Lovely. The only consolation we could take from this is that if they had pulled an all nighter on Saturday it was very unlikely they’d bother us again tonight. We had a relaxing day and enjoyed the rest of the our weekend in peace. Tomorrow would be a good day to start exploring.

After a much quieter night, we were ready for some activities the next morning. Mindo has some lovely hikes as well as being an amazing place to see birds. We decided that first we would go and hike some of the waterfalls up in the cloud forest. These are only accessible by cable car and we parked up the car park for the first one, just a few minutes drive down the road.

It was a pretty expensive ride at $8 return per person and the system operated with ski lift style chairs, rather than the pods we had become used too. We gliding along silently above the trees, a very long way up. I tried not to think about just how high we were as we came to a bouncing stop over the valley. They were clearly letting other people off or on. Then we jerked off again and soon the station at the end was in sight.

It was at this point, that we realised we could have driven up here and that we now needed to take another cable car to access the forest. So we spent an unnecessary $16, but it at least it was a nice ride. After a short walk, we arrived at the second car. This was more of a box on a cable that took you across another valley to the start of the footpaths. It was also possible to take a footpath down to the river and up the other side but either way, it cost $5 and so we opted for the easy route in on the second cable car.

This one shot across the valley with almost alarming speed, before depositing us in front of a big trail map. We opted to do the longer trail which would take us to 5 different waterfalls first and we set off down into the valley.

I have to admit that the first waterfall was a bit of a disappointment, mainly because it had no real water in it. But as we continued, things improved. We walked along the trail for an hour or so to reach the final falls, stopping off at the other along the way.

The water was cold and crystal clear and while I didn’t fancy a swim, we went plenty of other people along the way taking a refreshing dip to escape the muggy heat of the forest.

Once we had reached the final falls, we retraced our steps back to nearly where we had started.

Before here, it’s possible to take another path which would take us down to one more big waterfall. From there we could walk back up out of the valley again. We set off at a reasonable pace to reach the final waterfall, as the cable car to return back to Ruby stopped running at 4pm and we had less than an hour left.

After the final river crossing, we puffed our way back up the other side to the entrance gate where we ticked our names off the sheet we had signed in early with. We had half an hour spare when we made it back to the final cable car. This time as we floated above the tree tops we spotted several toucans flitting around the canopy. Despite my slight uneasiness with the height, it was a great way to spot wildlife.

After enjoying our hike the previous day, we decided to explore another side of the valley the next. This time we drove out of the other side of town and down a private driveway to visit The Yellow House Trails. We were warned at the gate that we couldn’t camp there but when we explained we only wanted to hike, a friendly lady waved us on and we parked up outside what would have been a hostel if it had been open. We paid $6 each and were given a map of the trails. Another lady explained to us that there were 5 different trails and to do all of them would take about 5 hours. They were all joined by one common track from which each trailed looped off to the side. We started our hike, following a dirt track as it climbed out of cow pastures and fields of eucalyptus and into the forest.

After about half an hour we came to the first trail, but decided we would walk all the way to the top first and the loop off on each trail as we returned. Initally, we weren’t going to bother to do the final loop on the map but I was enjoying walking through the forest and we had the time. It was a good thing we did, as despite it being the toughest section of the hike for gradient, it was also the first time we saw some birds.
Firstly, we saw these bright blue fruits on the trees as neared the boundary of their property. I have no idea what they are though.

Then as we began to descend back the other side we head a clattering in the trees ahead and spotted a rather large ungainly bird that didn’t really look like it should be in a tree at all. It appeared to be chasing a cock of the rock, without much luck. I also didn’t have much luck in photographing it unfortunately as it crash off through the tree tops.

We continued on, leaving the fifth trail behind us and joining onto the fourth. I got glimpses of toucans flying around us but never long enough to take a photo. As we hit the third trail we walked out to the viewpoint, spotting a huge butterfly, bigger than both my hands on the way.

We met another English couple, eating their lunch at the viewpoint. It seems Mindo is the place of the English. While we hadn’t seen all that much, we had had more luck than them and they set off in the opposite direction in search of ungainly tree turkeys while we got some pictures from the viewpoint.

This was supposed to be the area to spot more toucans, monkeys with also the possibility of seeing spectacled bears. None of this wildlife appeared though. The only things we seemed to attract was another huge bird. We completed the rest of the trails in about the time suggested, arriving back at Ruby mid afternoon. Despite the fact that we hadn’t seen a lot of wildlife, it was a really lovely hike. It’s not like we haven’t seen all that stuff before anyway.

With some of the afternoon still, we decided to stop off at a cafe in the town where Lee had seen them selling ginger beer. A rare treat. We ordered two glasses and had a quick look at the menu before ordering some yucca chips and cheese with jam as a snack. While the food was ok, it was incredibly overpriced. So far, we had definitely been getting our moneys worth when eating out but this was quite the opposite. We paid nearly 50% more for a lot less and left feeling slightly robbed. The ginger beer, at least, had been really nice.

Yet again, we said we’d just stay one more night. Falling asleep next to the river in this tranquil little spot was rather nice and we just couldn’t get enough of this beautiful area. Finally, after the cloudiness of the coast, we were actually getting some sunshine too.

Spot the campervan!

The only downside, was that we needed some more cash and the local cash point didn’t accept foreign cards. This meant we needed to take an hour long round trip to the previous town to get out some money. We also used this as an opportunity to stock up on groceries for cheap. As ever, the small cute touristy towns are not the best places to shop. Now that we had some more money, we could go to one final stop before the impending weekend would force us to move on.

We headed for the Botanical Garden, this was supposed to be a nice place to spot some birds and apparently you could have a wander around the garden too. We weren’t expecting too much, but it seemed a pleasant way to spend our final afternoon.

For $5 per person, you get entry to the garden and then we were told we could also feed the hummingbirds. That was an unexpected bonus and so we sat down next to the feeders on a wooden balcony overlooking the rest of the garden. The lady brought us over a bottle cap and filled it with a liquid, I’m not sure exactly what, for them to drink. We sat patiently with our hands out, bottle cap in the center and within a few seconds the air was filled with hummingbirds. They hovered in front of us, bickering over who got to drink first. They were all different shapes and sizes and were more than happy to sit on our hands while they had a drink.

It wasn’t just our hands they fed off either! It was an incredible experience to see them so close and an unexpected bonus to our little garden visit.

Mindo was full of great things to do and we hadn’t even visited the butterflies here either. Unfortunately, time was ticking and we needed to get moving. We knew that as peaceful as our river spot was now in the week, the weekend would be a different story and so after spending far longer than we had imagined in this lovely little valley, the following morning we packed up and headed for the capital once again.

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