We stayed four days in Quito, the capital of Ecuador and visited the Mitad del Mundo, where the equator line was determined.
Furthermore, we went two days to Mindo, a small subtropical village:
the perfect place for birding and hiking to waterfalls.
The capital of Ecuador, Quito, lies at an altitude of 2850 above sea level.
More than 2,2 million people live in the 290km² big city which was founded 1534.
It's the highest capital in the world but only the second biggest city of Ecuador - the biggest is Guayaquil with 2,5 million habitants.
The city lies in the Northern Andes and next to the extinct volcano Rucu Pichincha (4 690 meters high).
About 13 other volcanos are located around the capital and during clear days, it's possible to see the famous volcano Cotopaxi.
The last eruption of a volcano near the capital, was in September 2002.
Quito, the capital of Ecuador
We stayed in Quito for four days and didn't really like it.
Furthermore the weather was bad during our stay. Almost everyday we had thunderstorms with hail and plenty of rain. The huge amount of water created rivers on streets and moved cars. During the rainfall it was impossible to find any free taxis and more than once, we arrived back at the hostel wet.
Because of the bad weather we didn't have the chance to visit the volcano. We only went to the old town twice, to visit all the old churches and the botanic garden.
The botanic garden is really an escape of the trouble in the city. It shows several ecological systems in Ecuador, has two buildings with orchids and one with carnivore plants.
The center of the earth
The "Mitad del Mundo", the middle of the earth, was more interesting and just 25 kilometers away from Quito.
The monument is located in San Antonio de Pichincha and marks the place where Charles Marie de la Condamine declared the exact line of the equator, as first European during an expedition 1736.
If you didn't know it before: Because of the equator, Ecuador is called Ecuador.
Today, there is a big monolith with a globe and a metal ring at this place. A yellow line is symbolizing the equator. The park is huge, the entrance is high and there are a lot other little museums around. Anyway, this isn't the exact location of the equator.
The exactly line of the equator is 240 meter further in the north. We visited both places. At the actual spot of the equator, there is a little museum called "Museo de Sitio Intiñan" which is explaining the culture of Ecuador, their indigenous people and animals in the Amazon and the old tribe Quitu that lived at this places many years ago before the Inkas arrived and which knew they are in the middle of the earth.
In the museum, they are making as well some experiments to show the difference of the force on the equator and next to it and as well how the water is turning (or not) in the Northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere and on the equator.
If you didn't know: The only place where you can balance a raw egg on the top of a nail is on the equator.
Summary of Quito
As a matter of fact, we weren't really motivated to take any photos in Quito or Mitad del Mundo.
Therefore, we only took some very touristic pictures with our phone.
We didn't really like the city and we weren't lucky with the weather either.
The highlight of our stay was the little museum de Sitio Intiñan on the equator line.
It's definitely worth to visit.
The Mitad del Mundo and the monument was a flop.
After Quito we travelled to Mindo for two days, a tiny village 60 kilometers west of the capital. Only two thousand people live in the city which lies at an altitude of 1250 meters above sea level. The main attraction here are birds, see more in the part Twitch Twitch.
The climate is subtropical and around Mindo lies the protected area "Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo". It is a cloudforest on the equator line, at an altitude between 1400 and 4780 meters above sea level.
Besides birding, we were hiking in the cloud forest of Mindo. The first day, we hiked about 8 kilometers in a private forest of the "Yellow House", Northeastern of Mindo. We had to pay an entrance fee and the secondary forest was similar to the forest in Panama.
We met two people from Switzerland, Jessica & Fabian. Together we visited the Santuario de Cascadas, Southeast of Mindo. With the Tarabita, a teleferic, we drove over the valley of the cloud forest. On the other side it's possible to hike for 2-3 hours and to visits 6-7 waterfalls (Cascada Nambillo, Ondinas, Guarumos, Colibries, Madre, Los Maderos, Reina), but not all waterfalls were visible.
In Mindo, about 450 bird species are recorded. Of course I had to do a birding trip in this area!
My guide in this Mindo was Rolando Garcia and Savied was our driver. We started early in the morning, at 5 a.m. The first place we visited was in a cloud forest above Mindo.
After a short walk over a creek and through pasture landscape in the dark, we arrived in a hide, somewhere in the forest. It was the display area of the Cock of the Rock, a red "chicken" which live in the trees and which is a famous species for the Andes. About 5-7 males were screaming, fighting, displaying and flying around, just to impress some females on the ground. This area is used during the whole year. The birds awake early in the morning and turn quiet at 7am.
Afterwards, we went back to Rolandos home. He really created a paradise for all the birds in his backyard. Flowers, water and food are placed everywhere and attract different kinds of birds. Toucanets, Barbets, Tanagers and Thrushes are a common visitor at this place. A bit further downhill, it is possible to observe different kinds of hummingbirds. I got many species in front of my lens which I had wanted since a long time. Furthermore, four species were endemic.
In total I saw between 30-40 species and took about thousand photos in three hours.
Summary of Mindo
Mindo is a perfect place for birding and indeed, I saw a lot.
Thanks a lot to my guide!
Hiking around in the cloud forest wasn't so funny.
The temperature and the humidity were high and we sweated a lot.
I prefer hiking in the Andes.
Same same but different view!