After our week in Quito we travelled by bus to Mindo. It took about 1.5 hours and was a nice, scenic drive. Mindo is a small town of about 2,500 people and it is a mix of locals, backpackers and foreigners having settled in the town. The streets don’t have much traffic and there are children playing everywhere. We felt there was a lovely atmosphere and we stayed in a nice hostel (BioHostal) as well.
We spent almost a week there in the end and we found it hard to leave, we loved the place so much. There was quite a bit to do around the town as well. One day we went up to a park where you had to take a rickety cable cart to get to the other side of the valley. From there you could do several hikes to different waterfalls. We had a lovely morning there and were glad we started and left fairly early as the queues for the cable cart were getting really long (to get in, whilst we were on our way out).
We also went to a butterfly farm. There are several, but we went to Mariposa de Mindo and it was worth the walk there. I have never seen so many butterflies up close and the children were delighted to be able to hold the butterflies on their fingers.
On other days we went horseback riding and spent a couple of hours at Bonito Mindo, a place where they had a swimming pool, humming bird garden and a little boat lake with a zip line over it.
After a week in Mindo and having slept well, eaten well and lots of fun, we felt more relaxed than we have in a while.
After Mindo, we decided to go to Otavalo. It is famous for its market on Saturday, it is huge and you can get clothes, souvenirs, food and textiles. There is also an animal market that is worth visiting. Locals sell their horses, cows, sheep, chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats here. It is hectic, smelly and amazing.