<Where to go, What to do <Places <Northern andes

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.

This phenomenal effort to give you a good time is what makes the experience so great, even after you are freezing cold and hoarse from screaming.
You’ll get soaked but with a hard hat and life-jacket it is fairly safe. Don’t do it if you can’t swim because I don’t think most of the guys doing it are probably experts in water rescue.

Canopy tour
This site is located on the road to the cable car. You can enjoy a route along 10 zip lines.

Other attractions
On the road to the butterfly farm there is a small coffee plantation. There are not exactly tours but you can visit, walk around and get a bit of an explanation.

Where to Stay
There are several nice hotels in town and other cheaper hostales near to the bus office – have a look around. People tend to hover when the buses arrive and try to nab tourists. There are also many fantastic but expensive lodges in the surrounding area including the the old Mindo road which starts from the Avenida Occidental (western bypass) in Quito and passes through the village of Nono. It’s a rough track and fun for mountain biking. The route is very scenic with great birdwatching but it’s probably easier to use the paved Calacalí –Independencia road further north and turn off to get to your lodge.

Click here to find out Where to Stay in Mindo.

Where To Eat
There are several simple restaurants on the main street which offer pizza or fish and rice. Click here to find out Where to Eat in Mindo.

There’s not very much. On the main street a few bars stay open late-ish at the weekend. There is a nice bar past the square at the start of the road to the butterfly farm. If you want to stay up all night partying you’ll have to get talking to the locals.

The old road from Quito is scenic but unpaved. It’s much easier to take the paved Calacalí –Independencia road which passes the Mitad del Mundo north of Quito. At km 79 a turn off on the left leads down 8km to Mindo. There are frequent buses from Quito (Cooperativa Flor del Valle) leaving from the north bus station and from the lowlands you can connect in Santo Domingo (Cooperativa Kennedy) or Puerto Quito (Trans Esmeraldas which will drop you on the main road)


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