Family Exploration in the Mindo Cloud Forest – Ecuador

The small town of Mindo is situated 2 hours from Ecuador’s capital city of Quito and tucked amongst the lush cloud forest of the western slopes of the Andes Mountains Range. For those looking for a relaxing vacation, where everyone in the family will be occupied and happy with the many outdoor activities available, this cloud forest is a must visit destination.

Relax on a riverside hammock while listening to the hundreds of birds singing in the forest, while the kids are off horseback riding and exploring the woods.  Or choose to be adventurous and join them on some adrenaline pumping canyoning adventures or a world-class birding expeditions.

Here at South American Outdoors we have personally spent a lot of time exploring the Mindo area in search of the best outdoor activities and accommodation. Below is a list of the activities we believe the whole family will enjoy all of which are available through Mindo Bird Adventure Tours.

What to Do –  bird-watchingBirding Tours – One of Mindo’s biggest attractions is the world class birding tours. Ranked as one of the top 3 locations in the world for bird population, you can find a variety of more than 550 different species including the Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Giant Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Rufous-breasted Anthrush, Dark-backed Wood-Quial, Empress Brillant, Booted Racket tail, Wedge-billed Hummningbird and more. The early morning hours are the best time for viewing, so family members interested in birding can wake up early while the others sleep in.

canyoningCanyoning – Everyone wants to see Dad get nervous as he hangs 45 meters high off the side of a waterfall. Rappel from ropes down the side of a rocky cliff as the water rushes over you. Although it may seem scary you are perfectly secure with the trained canyoning staff, safety ropes, and helmet. It is a must do activity for the whole family. The only question is, who will be the first one to go?

mariposaria Maraposario a.k.a. Butterfly Garden – Walk into this enclosed garden as hundreds of butterflies swoop and swarm around you. They are not a shy creature as you will soon find. Place a little bit of banana on your finger and you will quickly have friendly butterfly to chat with.

tubingTubing – Join the whole family as you float down the rushing rapids of the Rio Mindo on inflatable tubes. All the tubes are tied together and assisted by two guides ensuring you won’t lose little Susie floating down river.

horseback-riding Horseback Riding – Tour the surrounding mountain landscapes of Mindo by horseback. Along with your own personal guide the family can all explore in style. The well-trained horses will lead you safely along the trail and back, so no cowboy experience is required or recommended…

chocolateChocolate Production Tour – Ecuador is known for its chocolate that is sold in supermarkets and shops worldwide. Bring the whole family to see how fields full of cocoa trees are cultivated and processed into a delicious artisan chocolate bars full of sugar rush fun.


Frog Concert a.k.a. Nightime Wildlife Tour- As the sun sets in Mindo a whole new world arises to roam the night. Starting at 6:30 p.m. you will begin a tour around a secluded lake to spot the creatures of the dark like frogs, lizards, strange insects and even snakes to scare mom.

orchidsOrchid Tour – With the help of an expert guide, learn about the large variety of plants that reside in Mindo, their life cycles and classification. Now is the time to see who the true botanist is amongst you.

hummingbird-2Hummingbird Tour – Not only is Mindo home to beautiful blooming flowers, but also a large population of hummingbirds who feast on these plants. Take a tour to spot these little flying motors.

zip-line-2Zip-Lining – Get your adrenaline pumping as you fly through hundreds of feet above the ground through the cloud forest canopy. You will be accompanied by two zip-guides that will be with you throughout a diverse variety of 10 cable routes.

balneairoBalneario Nambillo – Take a cooling dip under a rushing waterfall while the whole family enjoys this natural swimming hole and slides located in the Rio Nambilla. Those more adrenaline seeking types adults can choose to jump from the waterfall into the rushing rapids below.

Where to Stay

Garceta Sol Hosteria – This hidden gem is located deep in the forest next to a secluded river. Its location is great for the whole family with multiple rooms that offer privacy, quiet, and comfort. The kids can stay occupied with the many activities including canoeing in the pond, playing on the rope course, volleyball,  fishing for dinner in the fish ponds, and whatever else they can invent for fun in this safe outdoor environment. Enjoy a hearty breakfast or fish dinner at the hotels restaurant as you listen to the mountains around you teem with life. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the hotels famous Garceta del Sol bird that resides in the trees around the premises and was the inspiration behind the hotels name.

Average Cost: $25 per night per room


Mindo Bird Adventures horse tour guide


The Garceta del Sol bird species that resides at the Garceta del sol hotel


Mindo Bird Adventures office on the main street in Mindo