Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exclusive frog concert in Mindo

Another good day trip out of Quito, well, more of a weekend trip, is to go to Mindo.  It’s lower down the Andean slopes so it’s back into the jungle and the cloud forests.

It’s a big of a long drive through a winding valley but the views are nice and at the right time of day the sunsets through the misty mountain tops are spectacular.

We stayed at Mindo Lago as recommended by Ryan and Nuala. It’s a pretty nice place, built up around a little pond with a few cabins on one side and the main dining hall opposite.mindo lago

As we wandered around during the day we could hear lots of frogs singing but nothing like what we would hear that evening during our “frog concert” tour. The owner is a bit of a frog fan and with his little tape recorder he coaxed specific frogs into singing by playing back the relevant croak. Then he’d point them out on the lily pads when they responded. It was pretty neat! Fortunately the owner’s daughter was back home so she could translate for us too. He took us on a short walk in the woods around back and showed us these uber-bright fireflies. They look like glowing embers from a fire floating in the air. Another interesting sight was a phosphorescent bacteria decomposing a piece of wood. Shining a light on the wood reveals nothing, but in the dark the interior of the wood is glowing blue with these bacteria.  After that he spotted a massive cockroach up on the tree above us. We quickly moved on…

Butterfly in Mindo Lago's butterfly house

There’s also a butterfly house at the place that houses a bunch of colourful butterflies and various local flora.

The food here is pretty good too. I recommend their “meat on volcanic stone” which is a nice piece of steak sizzling on a hot slab of rock. We were also introduced to a new variety of potato – the yuca. It’s a bit more fibrous but tastes pretty good fried up as wedges.

Mindo’s claim to fame is the handful of zip-lining outfits set up in the valleys around town.  We went to Mindo Ropes & Canopy (Mindo Lago gave us a discount there) and had fun zipping across the cables. One trick they do here is where a guide goes with you and holds you in a “superman” position thereby allowing you the sensation of flying over the valley. It’s pretty neat.

Ziplining in Mindo

We sort of got stranded in town when our cell phone ran out of credit and we couldn’t call our driver to come pick us up.  The stores in town didn’t have any more recharge cards until 4pm (beats me why – I guess the bus bringing more arrived then?) and we were also stuck with only 20-dollar bills and couldn’t buy anything since nobody had change.  We found lunch at one of the Lonely Planet-recommended spots in town and waited until our ride arrived.

Pictures of Mindo: 
– Look for the “slideshow” button at top=right of the page. Hit F11 for glorious full-screen viewing.

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