Categories: Ecuador, Hiking, Travel
We were pretty stoked after the Galapagos and we’re excited to start exploring the Central Valley of Ecuador. Our main goal here was to get acclimated to the altitude and get ourselves ready for some challenging hikes further south.
Our first stop was the cute town of Mindo, it’s in a cloud forest so the weather was a pleasant temperature with a mix of sun, cloud and rain (often within minutes of each other, we drove our new friends Kate and James whom we met in the Galapagos, and would spend a few days with them having, quite possibly, way too much fun.
First there was zip lining. At $20 a pop, this was much cheaper than Costa Rica, but just as much fun. I even got to do a superman fly and a Mariposa fly (which I was upside down for!)
Next day we took the Tarabita Cable Car across a 530m gorge 130m in the air, oh and it’s “hand powered” (with the help of a small engine). Then we went for a pleasant stroll to some lovely waterfalls, to get back across the cable you use the high tech approach of kicking the cable to let the operators know you’re ready to go.
Many brownies were also consumed (as a few different places claimed to have the best), and other good food, but above all the wait staff really stood out to us. One night we were served by a 13-year-old girl, who looked about 8, not to be out done by the very eccentric owner of the Bee Hive Cafe, one strange dude who brewed fairly good beer. We finally had to say good-bye to our friends as they were going north and us, south.
Our next stop was the Pululahua Crater via the Mitad de Mundo aka the equator. The monument has been made into a cheesy tourist attraction, but judging by the amount of people there, it seems to work. We only bought our way into the sight, we could have seen a movie and gone into exhibitions and taken an elevator to the top of the monument, but really we were there so I could say I’ve cartwheeled across the equator.
Then we headed into the Pululahua Crater which is the second largest inhibited crater in the world. It was foggy on our switch back plummet into the crater, so we didn’t get to really appreciate what they meant by “inhabited crater” but we figured it out once we got down there. It’s huge, and mostly farms, but you’d never know you were in a crater except for the fact that they tell you. We gave a quick lift to 7 or 8 Ecuadorian teens who had clearly walked a little further into the crater than they realized, how the all fit into the back seat of the Hulk is beyond me, watching them get out was very “clown car-esque”.
The crater gave us two good hikes to get some elevation, and some serious panting. We also were entertained by a school group doing some sort of cadets training at the community rec centre next door to where we stayed, there was marching and singing and lots of laughter, a nice sound to fall asleep to.
Our final acclimatization hike before going for some big stuff was Volcan Pasochoa. We immediately screwed this one up by going to the wrong park entrance, we were told from where we were we could not summit Pasochoa unless we had a guide. We assured the ranger we would not summit Pasochoa, while thinking “meh how hard can it be”. Well it was a tough climb, and we didn’t see too much thanks to some clouds, but just as we thought we might be getting close to the summit we discovered the trail was completely eroded away. We tried to find another way around, but there was nothing we could safely do. So we had to settle for a near summit, but with 1200m of climb over 7km it was one of our best hikes yet.