Monday, July 12, 2010

Travel Log, Saturday, July 3, Mindo

Our first morning in Mindo was for fun. Mindo is renowned for the rich variety of birds found in the protected forests (over 400 distinct varieties were counted in recent years) but a number of "adventure tourist" activities have sprouted up as well. So we all headed out first thing in the morning for the zip lines! Debby and I had done some zip lines in Panama many years ago, but the girls were too young. Sue had never been. There were 10 runs on this course, the longest was over 500 meters - about a quarter mile! The lines crossed back and forth over the river valley far below. A real rush for everyone!

Afterward we drove up the road a few more kms to a short hike to some waterfalls. A long thick rope swing surprised us about halfway down the trail, and the girls (and their parents) swung until the travails of the arduous 20 minute hike were forgotten.

Friday, the adults went for an early morning (6:00 am) bird-spotting hike while the girls slept in (and watched Germany trounce Argentina, 4-0). We chose to act as our own guides, and started out on the Yellow House Trail as the sun was still burning off the morning fog. We definitely saw a yellow throated toucan, and the back of either a parrot or a quetzal. (There are a couple varieties of quetzals in this forest, neither of which resemble the Guatemalan quetzal with its long tail feathers.) We heard lots of other interesting bird calls, but never could locate the squawkers.

One of the interesting things about the forests of Mindo is that most of them are on private property. For now, I guess the owners are making a sufficient profit charging $3 to walk to the waterfall, or $6 to hike the Yellow House trail for them to keep their property pristine. But I wonder what will happen when profit and ecological preservation are forced to go head to head.

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