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Sanctuario de Cascadas is a magical hike through a narrow gorge carved by a rushing river that visits at least six unique waterfalls, with smaller cascades in between.
But the journey to get to the trailhead is itself half of the adventure! The best route to the trailhead involves taking the Teleferico Minjoy Park (aka a chairlift) from the outskirts of Mindo to the top of a nearby mountainside.
At the top of the Teleferico, you have the option to climb to the top of a lookout tower for a spectacular 360-degree view of the area.
A short hike then leads to the Tarabita cable car, which whizzes you across another gorge to where the beginning of this hike is marked.
The round-trip cost for both the Teleferico and Tarabita is $15 per person and can be purchased on-site at the bottom of the first lift. Once on the far side of the Tarabita, you can choose from three different hiking routes.
The Sanctuario de Cascadas is route #2, and it's the most popular of the three routes due to the absolutely incredible scenery that you'll enjoy! The hike through the gorge follows a well-built path with numerous steps and handrails to aid in the steep climbs and descents.
Even so, you'll need to be prepared to negotiate many short, steep climbs and descents, slick roots, wet rocks, mud, and more.
The handrails are much appreciated! If you brave the sometimes challenging trail, you'll be greeted by some of Mindo's true natural marvels—a series of thundering waterfalls in a narrow gorge, with towering trees and dense rainforest vegetation all around.
Sunlight still trickles into the bottom of the gorge, and pools below many of the falls offer enticing places for a swim—especially during the heat of the day! If this isn't paradise, I don't know what is!