Excursion number two out of three began at 7:00 am this morning. Our adventure consisted of a rain-forest hike, zip lining, a nice lunch and some kind of weird tubing-raft hybrid down a river and hanging with some butterflies.
We drove north out of Quito toward the town of Mindo. After a couple hours in the car we stopped for our first activity at Sachatamia Lodge. We had about 10 minutes to wait for our guide to be ready and took advantage of the hummingbird feeders located near the lodge entrance. The humming birds were amazing. There were so many different types. Some small, some large, some long tailed, some with furry boots all buzzing around to get a drink. We could have stayed there all day just in awe of the variety of athletic little guys and did return to watch them before lunch.
We began a two-hour hike including three zip lines. As a family we have zip lined four or five other times. North American zip lines are idiot proof. You could send the frailest of humans with a box of eggs down them at no risk of loss. However, the South American zip lines seem to be a bit more homemade and, as Daisy will blog, require some participation or extended trust. We walked into the rain forest and even though it looks like a jungle that term is reserved for African rain forests. The most amazing feature to me happened to be that a singular good-sized tree hosted dozens upon dozens of other forms of plant life. There were mosses, orchids, ferns and all kinds of other things just living up in the canopy.
Zip lining ranges from boring to way too exciting. This particular course was very nice, especially the view of all the plants from above made it a spectacular activity.
We saw beautiful plants and some creepy crawlies too.
After lunch we headed of to Nambillo River for some tubing. We don’t possess a waterproof camera so there are no pictures, but the following YouTube video will give you a pretty exact idea of what it must have looked like. Because we are visiting in the off-season most of the towns we are visiting are void of tourists and we have ended up getting nearly private service for just about everything we do. As a result, our tubing consisted of only one tube raft, the three of us and two handlers. Their jobs were to navigate the lump of rubber and human down river and balance the ever changing variables of fun and safety. Our job was simply to hold on, bear the cold water and worry if we were going to get a rock or stick up the @$&%s! If you join three circular inter tubes on a flat plane and tie them with ropes the resulting shape will have a triangular area in the middle. This is where your bum goes, your hands grasp the ropes and your feet hang over the edge unless they are to be crushed and then you are supposed to suck them in. The triangular area is still a hole and as the raft molds itself over the rocks and logs in the river, it is easy to imagine that your nether region could be at risk. This is advertised as an extreme sport, but other than that worry it was pretty tame and also a little boring. We like the types of thing where our own accountability or athleticism are required to avoid peril. Just sitting there in the raft was like enduring a dentist probing your teeth waiting to tell you if you had a cavity or not. We left the river only 15 minutes after entering, as wet cats, wondering “What was that?”
Finally, after drying off we ventured into Mindo’s butterfly farm. The butterfly farm is actually a restaurant with convenient toilets for after tubing, a gift shop complete with dream catchers and small butterfly garden that is actually pretty cool. We had that butterfly garden to ourselves and enjoyed seeing all the stages of metamorphosis present for several indigenous species. We were first instructed how to coax a butterfly to step onto your finger and keep it there with some banana mush. The time with the butterflies was peaceful, fun and went by quickly. The day was full of nature and really helped us appreciate Ecuador more.