Canyoning in Mindo, Ecuador

With sore heads after a night of celebrating Ecuadorian independence, we took a bus to Mindo, just a few hours north of Quito, to spend a night there and enjoy some outdoor pursuits!

The hostel was relatively quaint, almost like a wooden hut and on enquiring as to whether they had wi-fi (you have to ask!), I was told ‘No, madrecita!’ by the elderly lady who ran the place. Madrecita? Seriously?!

Anyway, the town itself is quite nice and there are lots of restaurants and some street food available including delicious AREPAS which I hadn’t seen since Colombia and were served with shredded cheese on top and honey, yum!

The following day we decided to book a canyoning tour, which is basically abseiling or rappelling down waterfalls! I don’t know why I thought canyoning would actually involve canyons, but no!

Anyway, feeling slightly apprehensive but excited about a new challenge, myself Van and Tim headed off in the back of a 4×4 further into the Ecuadorian cloud-forest.

I didn’t bring my camera, as we were informed that we were going to get extremely wet and so I didn’t want to risk it. It’s times like this a waterproof camera would really come in handy! There are some photos and videos online so I’ll link to them here so you get the general jist.

Just looking at them brings me right back and reminds me that, yes it was TERRIFYING.

We went with a local company that provided helmets and the gear seemed quite decent, which was very comforting (sort of), and we also had two guides with us (although they may have been the combined age of about 24).

The first aspect of the tour is crossing a rope bridge, precariously overhanging the Mindo River which is powerfully gushing downstream over many rocks…there’s just a line of rope between you and a very serious fall into the river so it’s important to pay attention and, if you’re me, go extreeeemely sloowwwwly. Sorry Van and Tim.

Anyway, after this, it’s time to change into helmets and gumboots and hike up to the first waterfall, the highest one stands at 25 metres. That’s almost 80 FEET, people!!! And from there, our guide hooks up the safety harnesses, instructing us to drop ourselves backwards over the edge of the waterfall and ‘guide’ our safety harness down with our left hand while holding ‘lightly’ onto the harness from behind with our right.

So, I’m sure there’s a knack to this thing but I don’t really think I got it that morning, my hands/forearms were constantly aching from literally holding on for dear life but I was informed that they really shouldn’t be doing any work at all as you’re basically being held up by the ropes and secured from both sides.

Psychologically, it was challenging. I felt like I was going to plummet to my rocky waterfall-y death at any minute. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that gallons of water were falling on me all along the way. After the first waterfall, the following two felt like, well I was going to say a ‘breeze’ but maybe more of a ‘gust’, as they were continuously smaller than the first at 15m and 10m respectively. After we finished our canyoning, it was back over the bridge of death and to safety! YIPPEEE! I have to say, I am a bit of a wuss so probably making it sound scarier but it was still quite terrifying. Even still, I would do it again, perhaps with more time to adjust to learn the technique properly. I think I like doing these things mainly for the after-feeling of pride that I did it, overcame my fears and took on a new challenge. That, and a celebratory beer.


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