Mindo is a relaxed little village surrounded by spectacular cloud forest. Much of the surrounded area is a nature reserve; the Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo and there are also many private reserves. The slopes of the western cordillera are still barely touched by tourism but in or close to Mindo there are a number of activities on offer which you could enjoy over a couple of days.
The area is renowned for the number of species which can be observed. There are a number of lodges dedicated to organising trips, usually in their private reserves. Many would make a great place to stay even if you’re not a birder.
The whole area is beautiful for walking. Long distance treks include the path to Lloa. Day treks could be made along the Río Nambillo to visit a series of waterfalls (the ones which can be accessed via the cable car – see below) There is a path to Cunuco which leads west from the high school in Mindo (entrance to village).
About 7km out of town a cable car takes you across a ravine. Pick-ups are usually available in the square in the morning to take you up. The waterfalls are on private land on the other side of the ravine so you have to pay for access. You can walk in both directions to reach a number of falls and, for the brave, bathe under them. This is an exciting but sometime slippery and difficult walk. Ideally you should have good shoes or boots and be comfortable with your balance. You can walk back to Mindo following the river or return on the cable car and (if there is no pick-up) walk down the hill, passing the canopy centre on the way.
On a track about 5km out of town following the river you find Mariposas de Mindo which is an amazing little place where you can enter a big greenhouse which is filled with butterflies. You can observe them flying, resting on plants, or with a few choice delicacies on your finger you can attract them to you. It’s worth a visit even if you’ve never given butterflies much thought before. There is also a nice café which serves food.
Very popular Mindo activity and great fun. You can arrange tubing in several places in the village – look for the stores with inner tubes leaning up against the wall outside.
With a group of people you travel upriver to near the butterfly centre. Your guide puts down your vessel, which is about 6 inflated inner tubes strung together. You each clamber into one, the guide pushes you into the icy cold water and then walks, runs and leaps through the water to keep your tubes moving past the rocks and over the eddies in the river.