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Mindo 
Mindo accommodation: Hammock on a wooden balcony
Mindo Hotels: Open air swimming pool at Jardin de los Pajaros hotel
Mindo hotels: Cabana accommodation by lake in Mindo
Rufous-tailed hummingbird in flight by lake and cabanas in Mindo.

Useful Spanish Vocabulary for an excursion to Mindo, Ecuador:
guía: guide
mariposa: butterfly
mariposario: butterfly farm
colibrí or picaflor: hummingbird
a la plancha: cooked on griddle
lomo a la piedra: steak cooked on hot volcanic stone 


Birdwatching binoculars and birds of Ecuador guide book - ideal for Mindo
Small green and white hummingbird perched on scarlet and yellow tropical flower
Red and black butterfly at the Mariposario, Mindo
Green frog clinging to plant stem in Mindo, Ecuador

Useful Links for Mindo:

Nature Guides of Mindo:
www.guiasmindo.com

Christmas Bird Count:
www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/


Mindo's rustic little tourist information office
Wildlife photography: Small green tropical frog in Mindo
Blue, green and white hummingbird in flight
View of Mindo village.

Mindo - the best bird-watching destination in the world? Mindo hotels include rustic hostels and luxury cloud forest lodges offering birdwatching & many adventure activities.



Mindo - Ecuador Destinations

Mindo is world famous as a birdwatching destination but the many other activities on offer as well as birding make it a good base for a family Ecuador holiday or a group vacation.  Try tubing on the rivers, horseriding through beautiful scenery, hiking in the forests or soaring between the trees suspended from a zipwire or 'canopy' as they are known in Mindo.  For less energetic moments, the Mindo wildlife is a constant show: lounge in a hammock watching hummingbirds, take a leisurely tour of a butterfly farm, admire the many different orchids or enjoy a 'frog concert' and night walk with the magical sounds of a Mindo evening.  Watch out for flocks of parrots flying over at dusk.
The best time to visit Mindo is probably between May and December, when the weather is drier, but no matter when you visit Ecuador, Mindo is a must-see.  The climate is warm year-round.  It rains most in January and April, a little less in February and March but it is still wet and the roads and trails will be muddy.  Whenever you visit you will see hummingbirds, but the rain does limit forest access and the number of other birds you will see.  River tubing may not be possible when water levels are very low in the dry season or when the current is too fast at the height of the rainy season.
Mindo has a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets, from cheap and cheerful hostels through comfortable and rustic Mindo hotels up to luxury lodgings with jacuzzis.  Some of the best places to stay in a cloud forest lodge are situated around Mindo.  Acccommodation here is mostly on a small scale, none of the hotels are very large.  Our favourite is Mindo Lago, a handful of rustic cabañas (cabins) around a lake in peaceful surroundings.  For a group of eight people sharing the largest cabin, prices work out at around $25 per person per night, rising to around $38 per person in a double cabaña, including breakfast, the 'frog concert' and access to the butterfly house.  
A more economic Mindo hotel option is the delightful Jardin de los Pajaros ("garden of the birds") with swimming pool, airy rooms with private bathrooms and hot showers and an attractive balcony area surrounded by flowers.  The welcome is friendly and the breakfast is fantastic.  Around $13 to $15 per person depending on the time of year, including breakfast.  Follow signs to the right just after the bridge as you enter Mindo village, or phone +593 9 4227 624 to make reservations.
At the cheapest end of the scale, the basic but friendly El Rocio B&B has dormitory accommodation from $7 and rooms from $10 with shared bathrooms.  Suites ($25-40) have private bathrooms.  Breakfast is $2 extra but gets rave reviews from happy backpackers.  The owner speaks English and German and will help you book guides or tours.  Phone +593 2 3900441, email elrociomindohostal@hotmail.com, or ask for directions at the bus station. 
Mindo's independent tourist information office is very capably run by enthusiastic volunteers and offers advice on Mindo hotels, guides, tours and activities.  They seem to move to whatever office is available, so ask around for latest details.  Many shops and travel agencies along the main road also claim to be "tourist information offices", but of course offer only their own products.  However, they're still a good source of information and most are friendly and helpful.
Serious birdwatchers in Mindo should ask around for a good birding guide and ensure that they take you to a cock of the rock lek to see one of Mindo's most famous birds.  Take your own binoculars.  A birdwatching guide is likely to cost around $30 for 5-6 hours, maybe more if they speak English, so you may want to get a group together to split the cost.  Dawn and dusk are the best times to see many birds.  Try 'La Isla' on the main street for birding information or ask at the tourist information office.  If you are in Mindo around Christmas you might like to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count, an international event in which Mindo appears in the top 3 most years.  In December 2014, 465 different bird species were spotted in the Mindo area in a 24 hour period.  467 species were recorded at the 2015 count.
Of Mindo's butterfly farms or 'mariposarios', the most professional is about 3km out of the village - a clearly signposted walk or short taxi ride.  $3 entry.  The best 'orquideario' (orchid collection) is Jardín de Orquídeas just off the corner of the sports ground - the owners are passionate about orchids and offer a guided tour with many interesting details ($1.50, Spanish only).  To see and photograph dozens of hummingbirds, Jardin Nathaly is signposted from all around the village and also has butterflies and orchids, all included in the entry price of $4.  You can also see plenty of hummingbirds and a few butterflies at Mindo Lago, a 10-15 minute walk up the road towards La Y, and the location for the highly recommended 'frog concert' (6p.m. daily, $2.50 including a glass of wine, a night walk around the ponds and forest to see frogs and nocturnal wildlife).  Mindo Lago has a great restaurant for dinner afterwards (order before the frog concert to have dinner waiting for your return) and for the ultimate in romantic meals, a 'floating restaurant' - a raft with table and seats so you can dine whilst drifting across the small lake, which was created to attract wildlife and is the ideal environment for frogs.
The Mindo aquarium (acuario), $2, near the church won't keep you occupied for more than about 8 minutes.  Various operators in Mindo offer "canopy" tours or zipwire rides, most for around $10 to $15.  Horses can be hired from various places, for example at El Carmelo de Mindo, on the road beyond the sports ground.  Many places can organise guides for hikes and birdwatching.  Your Mindo hotel may help you arrange guides and some will even negotiate a discount for you.  Quadbikes (cuadrones) are available to rent, but the pollution, noise and damage they cause are not at all good for the wildlife - please find a more environmentally-responsible way to enjoy all that Mindo has to offer.
Mindo's main street has a few restaurants and the odd icecream parlour.  Many of the hotels also have restaurants and smaller hostals may cook for you on request.  El Chef, near the bridge, offers good value set lunch almuerzos at around $2 and local specialities such as trout cooked on a hot griddle (trucha a la plancha).  There is an excellent pizzeria just a couple of doors up from El Chef.  Work up an appetite with the 10-15 minute walk up the hill towards the main road then enjoy probably the best steak in Ecuador in beautiful surroundings at Mindo Lago, well worth the $10 or so it will cost you.  The trout is also excellent and vegetarians are not forgotten with vegetable pasta, or egg dishes on request.
Mindo has no banks or cash machines, so take along enough cash for your visit.  Some of the smarter hotels and restaurants take credit cards although there is often a small charge for this due to the high fees imposed by the banks.  They might even give you a cash advance on your credit card in an emergency, but it will be costly.  Taxis (usually pickup trucks) charge a minimum of $1.50 in Mindo.
Weekends and bank holidays get very busy and Mindo becomes crowded with day trippers from Quito.  Hotels are full and noisy, you're likely to have to wait for a table in restaurants and the usual peace, tranquility and wildlife of Mindo is disturbed by some ecologically-unaware visitors careering about on quadbikes.  Visit Mindo during the week to see more wildlife, receive better service and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere.  
Direct buses to Mindo leave from the Terminal Microregional La Ofelia in the north of Quito.  To get there, the Corredor Central Norte "Linea Azul" trolleybus system runs from Marin Central / Espejo in the south of the city, along Avenida America and Avenida de la Prensa.  The bus stops are the covered structures in the middle of the road - pay $0.25 on the way in, check you are going in the right direction.  Alternatively a taxi from La Mariscal to La Ofelia will cost around $5.  The journey to Mindo costs $2.50 and takes just over 2 hours from La Ofelia.  Buy tickets from the Flor del Valle ticket office at La Ofelia in plenty of time, especially at weekends.  The best views are from the right-hand side of the bus. 
On arrival in Mindo it's a good idea to buy your return ticket in advance, especially if you plan to leave on a weekend afternoon when the buses fill up very quickly.  If you miss your return bus, or want to continue to the coast, take a camioneta up to La Y and flag down any suitable passing bus.
Mindo bus timetable (Flor del Valle):
Quito to Mindo:
   Monday-Friday: 8a.m., 9a.m. and 4p.m.
Saturday: 7.40am, 8.20a.m., 9.20a.m. and 4p.m.       Sunday: 7.40am, 8.20a.m., 9.20a.m. and 1.45p.m.

Mindo to Quito:    Monday-Friday: 6.30a.m. and 2p.m.
Saturday: 6.30a.m., 2.p.m., 3.30p.m. and 5p.m.         Sunday: 6.30a.m., 2p.m., 3p.m., 4p.m. and 5p.m.
(Believed correct at time of publication, but call the Flor del Valle office in Mindo on +593 2 3900471 to check latest times).
Alternatively take any bus travelling the 'Los Bancos' route between Quito and La Independencia - for example, Transportes Kennedy or Occidental from the Terminal Terrestre Carcelén in Quito, or some (not all) of the Transportes Esmeraldas buses - and get off at "La Y" above Mindo.  It's around an hour and a half to walk downhill from there to Mindo, or $3 or so for a camioneta - there's usually one waiting at the junction.  Transportes Kennedy also has direct buses between Mindo and Santo Domingo.

Ecuador Destinations: Mindo, one of the world's best birdwatching destinations
Mindo is just a couple of hours from Quito and offers protected forest, fantastic bird watching, adventure activities and beautiful scenery, all in a warm subtropical climate with a range of accommodation from budget backpacker hostels and rustic cabañas to smart hotels.  Mindo is one of the best places to stay in an Ecuador cloud forest lodge.  The wildlife of Mindo is a big attraction and the town has some exellent birding guides.














Hummingbirds
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