Top Things to Do in the Mindo Cloud Forest – Ecuador
Deep in the forest of Ecuador lies a place where the misty clouds roll through the canopy in the morning hours enveloping everything in sight. The sun shines through to the forest floor reflecting off the thousands of misty water droplets. Life begins to awaken and the songs of birds high in the trees echo for miles. Butterflies glide in the wind and land on the blooming flowers.
A few weeks ago I walked out of our bamboo bungalow during the early morning hours in the Mindo Cloud Forest to experience this site for myself. Located only two hours from our home in the Capitol city of Quito, the small town of Mindo is the perfect location for a weekend break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Outdoor enthusiast have the opportunity to take part in an array of popular activities like bird watching, canyoning, canopy-zip line, mountain biking and more. It ranks as one of the top places in Ecuador for outdoor tourism and activities. Here at South American Outdoors we would recommend the Mindo Cloud Forest as a must visit destination for anyone visiting Ecuador.
– Evan & Melina
The town of Mindo spreads out from the Main Street. This one way street is full of information about the surrounding outdoor activities. At night you can relax at one of the many restaurants that serve traditional Ecuadorian and foreign cuisine. For the younger or young at heart travelers that aren’t ready to call it an early night, you can grab some drinks at the local bar and enjoy some Ecuadorian music.
The town is small and safe to walk around in. The streets are well lit at night and the people are very friendly. The area’s economy runs off tourism, so you can always find information and help from the locals.
How To Get There-
By Bus from Quito – Option 1: Last bus departs Ofelia at 4pm that goes straight to Mindo town. Cost: $3.50 Option 2: Depart from Carcelen station on buses that go to Santo Domingo and stop at La Ye de Mindo and take a taxi to Mindo town. Cost: Bus – $3.50 Taxi- $2
Private transport –
Rent a car – Rental cars are decently priced. You can expect to pay around $60 a day for a rental car.
What To Do-
Bird Watching – The early morning hours are the ideal time for viewing and photographing opportunities. The cloud forest has over 400 different bird species and is one of the top 3 places in the world for population. Birding tours are more expensive than most opportunities in Mindo, but are also the most popular due to the regions top viewing opportunities that bring in bird enthusiast from around the world.
Night Walks – Guided nigh walks through the forests allow you to peer into the hidden night-time world full of snakes, frogs, and big eyed nocturnal mammals.
Canopy Zip-Lining – Fly at high speeds through the cloud forest canopy. Choose to zip-line alone or upside down/superman with a guide on 10 cable lines that shoot you through the trees and over amazing landscapes.
Canyoning – Rappel from from a 40 meter waterfall. Professional guides ensure that it is impossible to fall. There is also longer canyoning tours which include 20, 15 and 12 meter high cliffs. Cost – $15 Taxi – $6
Waterfall Hike (Rio Nambilla Cascadas) – Come view the once hidden waterfalls of the Mindo Cloud Forest. Discovered by the owner years ago the waterfalls are now accessible by an exciting cable car ride (tarabita) over a high ravine. There are five waterfalls along the hike. Many people choose to visit the closest waterfall, which is about a 1/2 hour hike down the mountain. Those that are more adventuress can pay $3 to access the Balneario Nambillo swimming area and jump from the waterfall. Cost – $5 per person Children $2.50
Tubing – Float down the Rio Mindo Rapids aboard tied together tire tubes. Two guides will assist in the navigation.
Butterfly Gardens (Mariposario) – Visit lush gardens full of variety species of colorful butteflys that will fly all around and even land on you.
Horseback Riding – Find your inner cowboy, while you explore forest terrain on a guided horseback riding adventure.
Four Wheeling – Jump on quads and speed through the back country dirt roads high into the forest crossing rivers and muddy terrain.
Fishing – Fishing is not an established or regulated attraction in Mindo, but the rivers are full of Tilapia. Garceta Sol Hosteria has a restaurant near the river that will fry up your fish and prepare sides for a lunch to with it. If you do not catch any fish, but are still hungry they will catch a fish from their on site ponds. (Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org or +593 0997 416 792) *Bring your own gear.
Where To Stay –
Cabanas las Luciernagas – These eco-friendly jungle cabanas are located within walking distance of the town’s main street, but far enough away to still be in the forest. The friendly Swiss owner will make you feel at home. Breakfast is served whenever you wake up with tea or coffee.
Average Cost: $22 per night
Contact: 098 965 2463
Garceta Sol Hosteria – This secluded hotel rests adjacent to a river and many outdoor activities including canyoning, horseback riding, canoeing and more. The hotel itself would be great for groups or just a private couple. The grounds of the hotel include swimming and fishing ponds, fruit trees open for picking, volleyball, and a restaurant that will cook your caught fish with other available meals.
Average Cost: $20 per night