That Trip Was Gnarly MIN-DO! (pronounced 'mean'-'though')

Written by Jasmin Hernandez Santacruz
“Mindo es lindísimo!” (Mindo is very beautiful). I must have heard this phrase from my host-mom at least ten times as she urged me to take advantage of our free weekend to visit Mindo, a small town which is approximately an hour and a half from Quito; and this past weekend that’s exactly what we did. I think I speak for the whole group when I say that our two-day trip to Mindo was just the perfect taste of this hidden gem.

Our planning for the trip began on Wednesday afternoon. As soon as class ended, everyone put on their travel-agent goggles and began to plan for our trip. After a couple hours of phone calls and web surfing, the trip to Mindo was officially scheduled and planned, everyone hurried home to pack.

The first task for Day 1 was to meet at the Ofelia Terminal at 7:30am to catch the 8:00am bus to Mindo. The price for a one-way ticket was a whopping $3.10 and after everyone had purchased their ticket, we boarded the bus and were quickly on our way for the experience of our lives. Once we arrived in Mindo, we asked around for directions to El Acuario de Mindo, the hostel where we would be spending the night. To the surprise of many, including myself, the hostel was within walking distance of the bus stop, and we arrived much sooner than we had expected. After dropping our bags off, we went off in search of our first adventure. We spoke to the owner of the hostel and she offered us with different discounted packages to make our stay one full of fun and excitement. We decided that our first stop would be a tour through Mindo’s Waterfall Sanctuary, which would require us to take a cable cart across the Nambillo River.

Soaring over Mindo's cloud forest and the Nambillo River as we make our way to the Waterfall Sanctuary

After a strenuous hike through the cloud forest we arrived at the first waterfall. Despite the freezing water and the slippery rocks, we all dipped at least our feet in the shallow waters. The braver ones of the pack went in further for a quick swim before we had to head back (and through a  more intense hike uphill) that would bring us back to the top.

Posing next to the natural beauty of the waterfalls and its calm (but freezing!) waters.

Shout-out to our amazing tubing guides! (I told you it was a thing)
After a quick ride back to the city in the back of a truck, a common way of riding in Mindo, we prepared for our next activity: TUBING! I must admit, I have never been a fan of extreme sports, and therefore, never before had I gone tubing... but there’s always a first time for everything and I decided that the moment had arrived for tubing. Driving to the actual spot  along the river where we were to start our tubing experience, took about 30 minutes. Our group was split into two and after securing ourselves with life jackets and helmets we made walked into the river and plopped onto the tube. We were instructed by our tubing guides (side note: yes, tubing guides are a thing; these were brave individuals who steered our tubes away from rocks using only their hands and feet!) to sit at the triangles of the tube-webs so as to avoid hurting our bottoms with the rocks. We were told to hold onto the rope handles and to balance ourselves with our feet. There was no time to back-out-- I say this from personal experience-- before we knew it, the tubing guides were pushing the tubes into the water and the current quickly got ahold of us as we floated downstream. There were some moments of this experience that were scarier than others, and in between river bug bites and rock scratches, came lots of laughter and a joyful rush of adrenaline. It was unbelievably fun and I'm sure many of us would go through it all over again if we were given the chance.
Seconds before going on the highlight of our Mindo weekend!
After our tubing experience, we returned to the hostel completely tired and exhausted. The only thing that kept us from going off to bed was the growling of our hungry stomachs! After hearing about the possibility of having oven-baked pizza for dinner, everybody made their way to the hostel restaurant.

Dinner was followed with a short nap by some of the members of our group. Others took advantage of the free time to bond over an entertaining game of “Would You Rather.” As the afternoon rolled around, the group decided to end the day with Karaoke Night at the local dance club, which not surprisingly, was within walking distance of our hostel. With Day 1 of Mindo turning out to be a complete success, we all recovered our energies that night looking forward to a second great day at Mindo.
Click the link below to watch the bloopers of our car-ride experience!


  1. So glad you made it to Mindo! Great detailed description Jasmin!

  2. This trip was full of firsts! Horseback riding, turning, and karaoke! It was so much fun!

  3. This trip was amazing! I never thought that I would have done something as extreme as tubing, but I'm glad that everyone chose to do it! A really great part of this trip is that we all got to get closer to one another and enjoy each others company! We were all able to just appreciate the beauty of Mindo as our time here in Ecuador started to come to an end!

  4. This trip made me get out of my comfort zone! Tubing was a challenge but I am so happy we were able to do this activity! Surrounded by nature has to be one of my favorite things about this trip!

  5. Mindo was definitely beautiful! I enjoyed riding in the back of the pick up trucks when we were headed to go tubing and returning from that. That was quite the adventurous day for us all :P

  6. Mindo was such a good last trip in my opinion. It was a way to end the seminar with a bang. The tubing adventure was terrifying at times, but overall it was definitely a highlight of my trip. I'll never forget being squashed by the tubing guide at least three different times. I hope all the people that went horseback riding the next day had lots of fun! <3


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