Mindo is a paradise for birdwatchers, adventure seekers and explorers! Only 3 hours away from Quito, the cloud forest awaits…
Waterfalls, lush vegetation, green and abundant paths in the midst of the clouds, rivers, insects chirping along every step and birds flying above.. this is what you encounter when you visit Mindo.
Besides, because this is one of the top destinations when traveling around Ecuador, the small city has become a cool place to hang out and meet other tourists. Enjoy restaurants that have excellent gastronomic offerings, small bars that serve cold beer, galleries that exhibit national hand-made crafts and an overall great ambiance!
As for the activities that take you to explore the natural side, here are some of our top choices in Mindo:
1. Zip line above the cloud forest:
Soar over the canopy of abundant wildlife and observe endemic birds of the Chocó region. There are various zip lines, from cable cars that cost $5 and take you across the river to the full 10 line-pass for $14 per person.
2. Go Tubing /Rafting down the river:
If you want to lay back and slowly make your way down the river, tubing is what you’ve been looking for! You’ll float in the waters of the Mindo/El Cinto river accompanied by a guide on another tube beside you.
If instead, you’re looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush, rafting is the adventure for you! Step on a raft with your group and your guide and be prepared to paddle through the whitewater rapids.
Psst. Regardless of the activity you choose, you’ll be surrounded by the greenest vegetation and the sounds of insects and birds. ($6 approx, it varies depending on the operator but the price should be around that.)
3. Explore the wildlife of the area on an excursion:
Mindo is full of trails! Walk through the cloud forest and explore its biodiversity. Both the fauna and flora of the region are exceptional! A guide can take you through a forest full of orchids, bromeliads, frogs, hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, and more… If you’re not interested in having a guided tour, you can also find well-signaled self-guided trails or rent bikes ($1/hour!).
4. Taste the amazing chocolate of the region on a chocolate tour:
Mindo’s chocolate tours are fast growing gastronomic experiences in the area! Discover the process of harvesting cacao and making it into the finest chocolate. You won’t want to miss the chocolate tasting (chocolate from the Ecuadorian Amazon is renowned worldwide!) and the educational experience of the process. ($10 per person).
5. Visit the Orchid Garden:
More than 400 species of orchids, delicate and strange, grow in the area of Mindo. An environment that retains so much water creates the perfect conditions for these beautiful plants to live in the cloud forest. The orchid garden contains a variety of orchids of different species, some (nearing 200) are endemic to the area.
6. Surround yourself with butterflies at the Mariposario:
Mariposa in Spanish means Butterfly, and Mariposarios are butterfly gardens! When you visit the Mariposario you will be surrounded by beautiful, colorful butterflies. You can also learn about their life cycles and watch them when they are still developing inside the cocoon. If you grab a little bit of banana with your hands, butterflies will come flying to you, and will probably pose themselves on your hands while eating the sweet fruit. (For $6 dollars, an hour visit is more than enough!)
7. Take a dip at one of the hundreds of waterfalls in the area:
Nambillo, Via Mindo is one of our favorite waterfalls to visit! Only 7 km from the village a cable car will take you across the river and to the cloud forest below. Nambillo is magical because a hike takes you through a path of 7 waterfalls, each with a different height, fall and depth. Some are relaxing, perfect for a quick dip, some are deep ideal for jumping (there are designated jumping spots) but what we can assure is that the whole experience is worthwhile, regardless if you’re there for the landscapes, or the hike, or the calm, or an all-natural energy boost. ($5 approx, there is a short trip and a long trip depending on the amount of time + energy you have).
8. Birdwatch from an observation point amidst the clouds:
Mindo is the destination for birdwatchers! National and international tourists come here specifically for birdwatching, seeing as many IBAs (Important Bird Areas) are found in the cloud forest. Mindo has over 500 species of birds, many of which are endemic to the area. Several observation areas and lookouts will cross your path during your visit, but you can also find 4-5 day tours that are designed for passionate birdwatchers or just curious visitors!