Casa Divina Lodge

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Adventure to the Waterfall Sanctuary

One Saturday in September, I awoke, at 5 a.m. and I could hear the sound of birds and the light rain falling in the forest surrounding the cabins at Casa Divina Eco Lodge..  

I went out on the balcony and breathed deep that smell of wet soil that those of us who live in Quito dont get to enjoy very often.. Then I made sure my camera and cell phone batteries were charged and got ready to go on the Waterfall Sanctuary tour, which included a morning bird watching tour around Casa Divina

I joined a friendly family of three from the United States who had decided to explore the wonders of Ecuador, with Mindo at the top of their list of destinations.

Connect with nature:

As Community Manager of Casa Divina Eco Lodge and SabinaTour Operator, I am interested in registering and highlighting the services and experiences that these two companies offer within their sustainable tourism proposal. But also, I am looking forward  to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty and energy of the cloud forest of Mindo. 

Our naturalist guide, specialized in birdwatching and with great English skills, greeted us with a friendly attitude. The morning lent itself to birding and, for about two hours, we immersed ourselves in the biodiversity of the area, from 6 am until almost 8 am in the surroundings of Casa Divina. The weather helped us and we were able to take advantage of a fairly clear sunrise with moments of sunshine. Then we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with local ingredients: yucca bread, local coffee, fruit with homemade yogurt and granola, and with a spectacular view of the forest while the birds joined us for breakfast.

Chair Lift adventure: 

We walked to the chair lift. Despite my fear of heights, I went up with a camera, accompanied by a fellow passenger.

Crossing almost two mountains in the cable car and reaching the top of one of them is a unique experience, sometimes a bit intimidating, but beautiful at the same time. We were also lucky to have clear weather with no rain. As we rode over the treetops of the trees, I took the opportunity to take pictures from the top and chat with one of the passengers in our group, which made the time fly by.

We walked a short distance until we reached the entrance of another attraction in Mindo: the cable car. We watched as tourists from different parts of the world took a yellow metal basket and crossed an impressive ravine that separates the two mountains. Our time came, and with my camera in hand, I faced my fear of heights to capture the expressions of the tourists during the thrilling ride.

The descent to the waterfalls:

Finally, we reached the other side of the ravine and prepared to descend to the Waterfall Sanctuary. Led by our friendly guide, we were immersed in an educational experience. We learned about the flora, the ecosystem and the importance of conservation of the Andean Chocó cloud forest.

As we descended, we shared the path with other tourists, some exhausted after having completed the return hike. The smell of wet earth, the warm sun filtering through the lush green leaves of the cloud forest, and the numerous ferns all around us created a really unique atmosphere.

I was impressed at the physical ability  of the passengers in our group: the three seniors continued steadily and with the firm purpose of completing the tour. The narrow dirt trail, sometimes muddy, surrounded us with vegetation and the echo of waterfalls.

Our guide remained attentive to the group’s needs, sharing knowledge about the birds we observed. The say got hotter. We reached a large waterfall. Some of the travelers bathed in Nambillo River. Enjoyed water from high meters.

We took pictures and selfies, which I later shared on the Casa Divina and SabinaTour social channels As I watched the crystal clear water and listened to sound of the waterfalls and felt the refreshing spray, I marveled at how close the cloud forest  is to Quito and how it has been conserved over time, thanks to local entrepreneurs, conservationists and organizations that work hard to preserve this special place

After exploring the surroundings and taking pictures, we enjoyed a lunch packed by Casa Divina. For me, this sustainable lunch is a luxury—filtered water, an artisan bread sandwich with cheese and vegetables, a snack, nuts, and a fruit—all in a cloth bag with no waste. On the way back, some in the group took breaks to catch their breath. Despite that, their spirits stayed strong, and we got back to the starting point of our waterfall adventure. The guide was always by our side,  helping and advising us around obstacles in our path.

The hike back uphill:

Finally, we reached the summit, and waited to take the cable car back. Feeling accomplished, we descended the cloud forest in the chair lift. Soon after, we were back at Casa Divina, ready to rest and relax.

SabinaTour Operator offers personalized, small and safe tours framed in a sustainable tourism that includes the support to local initiatives. Today’s tour left me satisfied and happy. I feel fortunate to have explored this special part of the world.

In brief, Casa Divina’s Mindo tour provides adventure and natural beauty. It also supports the region’s sustainable development. Don’t miss this option if you seek a unique nature experience and want to participate in responsible tourism.

So, get ready for an exciting journey of adventure in Mindo! Your next trip could be full of natural wonders and unforgettable experiences, like this tour I had the opportunity to participate in.

Author and pictures: Lucila Donoso