is world famous as
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,
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.
best time to visit
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
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
see. River tubing may not
possible when water levels are very low in the dry season or
the current is too fast at the height of the rainy season.
has a wide range of
accommodation to suit all budgets, from cheap and cheerful hostels
comfortable and rustic Mindo hotels up to luxury lodgings with
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
a handful of rustic cabañas (cabins) around a lake in
surroundings. For a
group of eight people sharing
largest cabin, prices work out at around $25 per person per night,
rising to around $38 per person in a double cabaña,
breakfast, the 'frog concert' and access to the butterfly house.
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
breakfast is fantastic. Around $13 to $15 per person
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.
the cheapest end of
the scale, the basic but friendly El
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
backpackers. The owner speaks English and German and
help you book guides or tours. Phone +593 2 3900441,
email@example.com, or ask for directions at the bus
information office is very capably run by enthusiastic
volunteers and offers advice on Mindo hotels, guides, tours and
They seem to move to
office is available, so ask around for latest details. Many
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.
in Mindo should ask around for a good birding guide and ensure that
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.
Mindo's butterfly farms
'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)
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,
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
(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
great restaurant for dinner afterwards (order before the frog concert
to have dinner waiting for your return) and for the ultimate in
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.
(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,
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
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.
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
up from El Chef. Work up an appetite with the 10-15 minute
the hill towards the main road then enjoy probably the best steak in
Ecuador in beautiful surroundings at Mindo Lago, well worth
$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.
has no banks or
cash machines, so take along enough cash for your visit. Some
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.
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.
leave from the Terminal Microregional
La Ofelia in the north of Quito.
To get there, the Corredor
Central Norte "Linea
trolleybus system runs from Marin Central / Espejo in the south of the
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
Alternatively a taxi from La Mariscal to La Ofelia will cost
The journey to Mindo costs $2.50 and takes just over
La Ofelia. Buy tickets from the Flor del
office at La Ofelia in plenty of time, especially at weekends.
are from the right-hand side of the bus.
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.
bus timetable (Flor del Valle):
Quito to Mindo:
8a.m., 9a.m. and 4p.m.
9.20a.m. and 1.45p.m.
6.30a.m. and 2p.m.
3.30p.m. and 5p.m.
6.30a.m., 2p.m., 3p.m.,
4p.m. and 5p.m.
(Believed correct at time of publication, but call the Flor
office in Mindo on +593 2 3900471
to check latest times).
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
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
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
Mindo is one of the best places to stay in an Ecuador cloud
forest lodge. The wildlife of Mindo is a big attraction and
some exellent birding guides.