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Mindo

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Mindo is a small town in the Andean foothills of Ecuador. Set in beautiful cloud-forest, it attracts birdwatchers first and foremost, but also has attractions for other tourists. Mindo is located to the north west of Quito. This town was founded in 1861 and the current population is around 3000 inhabitants. Mindo is surrounded by the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest; the forest is home to hundreds of species of birds many of them are in danger of extinction.

Get in[edit]

There are direct buses from Santo Domingo and Quito. The bus is $2.50 each way from Quito and it is not possible to buy a round trip ticket in Quito, just a one-way. For schedules and more bus info, see the "Getting Around" section of the Ecuador country page.

The bus company is called Flor de Valle / Cayambe and departs from Terminal Terrestre Norte, La Ofelia (look for the Terminal Microregional sign). It moved a few years ago so ignore any references elsewhere on outdated websites and postings to it departing from Mariscal, since this is no longer the case. It is about a 30 to 40 minute taxi ride from the tourist area (Mariscal) to the bus station which is in the north of Quito at La Ofelia, or you can take the "Metrobus" bus rapid transit.

You can purchase tickets from Quito to Mindo in advance through a local travel agency such as Andesconexion for a $10 fee and pay by credit card for about the cost of a $10 round-trip taxi ride from the Mariscal/new town in Quito to Ofelia. Seats on the right hand side of the bus to Mindo are more scenic. If you are going for a day trip, you should buy your return bus ticket immediately upon arrival in Mindo or you are at risk of not being able to return that day. If you are staying more than a day, buy your return trip at least one day in advance or first thing in the morning.

There are many more direct buses to and from Quito at weekends than during the week. As well as direct services, buses go fairly regularly from the Flor del Valle station to Los Bancos. Other bus lines are Kennedy, Aloag, San Pedrito These do not go into Mindo itself, but they pull over at the edge of the main road running along the top of the valley. From here it is usually easy to hop in a truck for $0.50-$3.00 depending on the number of passengers and go downhill into town. Similarly, you can return to Quito by getting a truck to take you up to the main road and catching a bus back. Just ask around in town.

If there are no seats left on the returning buses, it is possible to rent a car and a driver from the transportation company across the street and up the block for $40-50.

See[edit][add listing]

See the birds of Mindo. Mindo is home to over 450 species of birds, a great variety of butterflies, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, making Mindo a paradise for eco-tourism. There are ziplines to fly over the ravines, you can go tubing in the river, and hike in the rainforest with nature guides.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Birdwatching Tours In Mindo, birding tours of the local surrounding and interior cloud forest are available.
  • Bird of Paradise Tours offers birding tours to see the Andean Cook of the Rock, the Long Wattle Umbrela Bird and others. You can also do the Lloa-Mindo trek, Rappelling, Canopy and more. tourmindo@gmail.com, 02 2 170 045
  • At Reserva Ecologica Pachijal [1], an Eco & Bird Lodge, they offer birding guided tours inside the reserve and excursions to Yanacocha Reserve, Tandayapa Pass & Bellavista Reserve, Birds Sanctuaries of Milpe and Rio Silanche.
  • Tours de Fotografia day and night photography tours for professionals or those who are interested in birds and nature.
  • Visit one of the orchid farms.
  • Visit the cascadas (waterfalls): it's a 7km uphill walk to the entrance or a $1/person ride each way. You get in via a $5 aerial tram (terabita). There's trails to multiple waterfalls, some closer and some farther, and it would take about five hours to see all of them. Be sure to take some drinking water with you, and check with a guide at the resort before using the water-slide or (for the adventurous, but only when the river is at the right height) going over the fall.
  • Try to entice tropical butterflies to eat banana from your hands at the Mindogarden butterfly farm.
  • Travel downriver in an inner tube. This is called a regata and can be arranged in almost any shop. You can do a short trip (20 mins or so) down the river near Mindo or you can go to Rio Blanco, which is a much longer (2 hour) and altogether faster and more furious experience! Ask around for prices, you may be able to barter as well.
  • Hire a local guide to take you birdwatching.
  • El Quetzal Chocolate Making Tour, El Quetzal de Mindo, 9 de Octubre (up the hill from the Parque Central), [2]. Mindo Chocolate Makers, Bean to Bar Chocolate making seven days a week every hour, on the hour, between 9:00 am and the last tour each day starting at 5:00 pm. the cost for the tour is $6.00 at El Quetzal de Mindo. Learn about the history of chocolate and how chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao plant. See cacao plants growing, experience the fermentation process, drying beds, roasting, grinding cocoa nibs, conching, bar molding, pressing cocoa powder and cocoa butter, learn how white chocolate is made. Chocolate samples included in tour. Coffee roasting on site too.  edit
  • Drink Artisan Beer made in Mindo. Also at El Quetzal you can taste hand-crafted beer for the first time in Mindo.

Buy[edit][add listing]

freshly roasted coffee can also be purchased at the Quetzal restaurant, they feature coffee from the region. El Quetzal has their own collection of fine Ecuadorian crafts some made in Mindo. There is a T-shirt shop called Hyla which sells tourist t-shirts and postcards. Street sellers sell some interesting jewelery most days, but more on weekends. A Mindo chocolate bar.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • El Quetzal, 9 de Octubre (Across the street from Amigos de La Naturaleza, Mindo, Ecuador), [3]. 8:00 am-8:00 pm, seven days a week. Serves fresh foods harvested from their own organic gardens. Delicious Ecuadorian dishes and typical American food is also served. There are always freshly made vegetarian options available. Fresh fish, chicken, beef and pork dishes, shrimp, ceviche and arroz con camaron are all on the menu. Delicious desserts include the world's best brownies. Home made ice cream is delicious! Also, Ecuadorian coffee is roasted on site. Espresso, cappuccino, lattes, mochaccino and cafe pasado are all offered. Coffee roasted on site is available by the pound. Food is carefully prepared and washed in purified water, so you can eat salads, fruits and vegetables here.  edit
  • Omarcito serves good food at reasonable prices.
  • El Chef is rather unusual in being essentially a steakhouse. Slightly expensive by local standards, but worth it.
  • Fuera de Babylonia is a secluded restaurant/bar/hostel near the center of town with excellent rustic atmosphere, reggae and other good tunes, healthy and delicious food, including a decent vegetarian selection. A bit pricey but worth the relaxing atmosphere. The locale was designed by the owner and his son and reportedly uses over 100 different types of wood from the surrounding area and amazon region.
  • The pizzaria/bakery along the main strip does good pizza although it is a little overpriced.
  • Los Colibries is a nice peaceful little restaurant which does good food. You can also watch lots of types of hummingbird visiting the feeders. Walk out of town past the volleyball courts and keep walking until you cross a bridge. Take the left turn uphill by some big gates and you will find the restaurant.
  • Dragonfly Inn, [4].  edit
  • "El Nómada" is a pizzeria and bar which offers the best fresh handmade pizza and pasta of Mindo or maybe all over Ecuador which is worth it's price!!. On weekends they have cocktails at the bar. Nice atmosphere. Run by an Ecuadorian family and an Italian co-owner.
  • Caskaffesu, 390-0400; 09-386-7154. With a fine dining feel, this place is a must, if nothing else, for its brownies made with two kinds of Ecuadorian chocolate. mains $5-8.  edit
  • Cafe Mindo. Try the Mexican Burger a well cooked beef patty with bacon, guacamole, cheese, tomato and beans.  edit
  • Mimi's Bistro, 215 Sexto Duran Vallen & Manakin (Take third right after crossing bridge into town (from bus station, go downhill until the first intersection and turn right). You should see the sign. It is before the stadium on the left.), (593-9) 98-677-168. 9am (earlier with reservation)-12am. Just off the mian strip, Mimi's Bistro is rustic and spacious. Options include typical or international food made with fresh local produce (much coming from Mimi's garden). Try a homemade pasta dish and dessert with freshly-brewed local coffee or one of the many herbal infusions (most come from the garden... No tea bags). The view is also very nice. Birds are usually in the garden (including hummingbirds and tanagers), which is easy to see through the big windows while you eat. Between $2.50-$10.00 per plate.  edit
  • Mishqui quinde (Sweet humming bird), Casa del Arbol (take the road towards El Quetzal, you will see a treehouse in a courtyard on your left. This is Oswaldo's place.), (+593) 998 489 9234. Oswaldo Proano serves very delicious ice cream with quinoa pudding. Definitely worth a try! from $2.5.  edit
  • Birdwatcher's Breakfast, (Up the road to the cascadas, past Mindo Canopy and before the cascadas), 0967973017. 7:30-10:30am. Hearty English breakfasts of sausage, grilled tomatoes, eggs, toast, fruit, good coffee and a view of Volcan Pinchincha on a clear day. A young couple from England live here, where they've created a lovely outdoor breakfast and birdwatching experience on their mountainside property overlooking the Rio Mindo valley. A perfect way to end a morning birding walk up the road to the cascades. Take a stroll on garden paths and trails through the woods, Carl is a fun guide and has a lot to share about the local flora & fauna and life in the cloud forest. $3-$6.  edit


Drink[edit][add listing]

There are a few nice bars in Mindo, but these only really get busy at the weekends.

  • Out of Babylon / Fuera de Babylonia is a nice place to have a pint or two. If you would like to sip cocktails and have a little dance.
  • Nomada, which is off the main plaza. It stays open fairly late. Cocktails are about $3-4 and are pretty strong.
  • Drink Artisan Beer made in Mindo. Also at El Quetzal you can taste hand-crafted beer. Don't miss the Ginger beer made with their own organically grown ginger, at El Quetzal.



Sleep[edit][add listing]

There is a stadium in the village, and most locals don't mind if you plant your tent in there. Of course, you have to leave early in the morning to avoid disturbing their daily activities.

  • Hostal El Rocio, considered one of the friendliest backpacker hostels in Mindo. hosted by Claudia (from Quito). It is a rustic and natural place just up the road from the sports field and away from the foot traffic in the village, Hostal Rocio (The morning dew) features accommodations for larger groups of 16 or more, as well as, single, double and private rooms for couples. Private or shared bathrooms with plenty of balcony space for hanging out and enjoying the jungle. Prices are low at $8 (3 nights+ to $10 (one night). Depending on the day that you stay a hearty breakfast with generous portions of fresh fruit, bread, and eggs with tea or coffee may be included. The vibe is laid back and peaceful. Lots of birds and squirrels to view from the balconies. Groups with parents and children can be accommodated in separate houses on the property if more privacy is needed. A patio/gazebo with BBQ grill in the jungle is only a short walk from the lodging. Claudia speaks English well and can help you organize day trips to birdwatching, waterfalls, private protected lands and can also pick you up from the Mindo bus station. Cell for Claudia inside Ecuador 09-822-7359
  • El Quetzal de Mindo & Mindo chocolate factory is located just up the hill from El Parque Central de Mindo across from Amigos de La Naturaleza. Quiet, yet only 1 block from the center of town. Beautiful large rooms, comfortable king and queen size beds, each with its own private bath. Beautiful views overlooking Mindo. Each room has its own unlimited supply of filtered water (reverse osmosis) from the tap.This is one of the few hotels that you will find in Ecuador that uses a hot water heater with a large tank for an uninterrupted supply of luscious hot water. Restaurant on site with organic foods harvested and served daily, as well as, a long list of incredible desserts. Also, you can find the best organic coffee in town. Brewed fresh everyday. $26.00 per person per night includes private room, a delicious breakfast and guided chocolate tour. Don't miss the chocolate making tour from bean to chocolate bar. It includes chocolate and brownie samples. Contact info@elquetzaldemindo.com, [5] Telephone (outside Ecuador) 011 593 862-63805 (inside Ecuador) 0862-63805. Free WiFi.
  • CasKaffeSu, at Sixto Bailen a/n and Av. Quito, a half block from the bus terminal, is the newest guesthouse and has a nice restaurant and can make arrangements for a birdwatching guide, hiking, rafting, etc.. info@casfaffesu, caskaffesu@yahoo.com, www.caskaffesu.com., 593 2 3900 400. Please refer to the good tripadvisor reviews for this guesthouse.
  • Mindo Biohostal, CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE TRIPADVISOR 2013" WINNER. JUST 200 meters from the central park, 10 spacious rooms. Each room has a private bathroom and new and comfortable beds.hammocks, a small area upstairs for reading and relaxing, and a public computer with internet access, as well as free Wi-Fi. Bedrooms are well-lit, well decorated, spacious, and very clean, It's off the main road, away from the traffic of the village, but just a couple minutes' walk from the bus station and town park. Right next to a butterfly farm and they can arrange trips or advise on birdwatching, hikes, waterfall visits, etc. Price (usually $15, can be more or less depending on season) includes excellent hearty breakfast plus free coffee, tea and bottled water all day. English, Spanish and German spoken. Parking available. Website: http://www.mindobiohostal.com/, email biohostalmindo@hotmail.com or call inside Ecuador 09 85415891 or 02 223 2783. From the bus station, walk toward the park, turn right at the first street (with central park on the left). Offer LAST MINUTE PRICE USD 15.- Breakfast included.
  • Casa Divina Lodge, (info@mindocasadivina.com), 0991725874/0990509626, [6]. Prices from $90 a night and include breakfast, evening meal and unlimited tea, coffee and filtered drinking water. Each room has a private porch with hammock, spacious living quarters and an elegant bathroom with full-size bathtub. Each room can accommodate 1 to 4 guests. Meals in the family style dining room and there is a beautiful observation deck on the 3rd floor of the main house. Short self-guided hikes that offer great lookout points around the property as well as guided bird tours are available. Birdwatching possible in forest. Tanagers, quetzals, toucans, hummingbirds are at your window making it possible to birdwatch even from bed! Casa Divina Lodge also offers a range of tour packages for birdwatching, photography, adventure and a great combination of all.  edit
  • Cabañas Armonia Stay with the lovely Toapanta family in a beautiful orchid garden surrounded by hummingbirds and tranquility. Tel 3900431 o cabanasarmonia@hotmail.com
  • Birdwatcher´s House, [7] Clean and comfortable rooms with private bathrooms and hot water available 24 hours. Jacuzzi, bird watching tours. A place to relax and enjoy the surrounding aromas of flowers as well as the sounds of singing birds. In the gardens of the Birdwatcher’s House it is possible to see up to 50 different species of birds. The hostel also offers: restaurant service, cafeteria, laundry service and expert bird watching guides. Contact Vinicio Perez at info@birdwatchershouse.com
  • El Bijao hotel is a fair way from the bus drop-off point, but has plenty of space to relax. Hot water from the shower is a matter of luck. There is a restaurant.
  • There is a wide choice of accommodation in Mindo, in fact there are probably more hotel/hostel beds than actual residents in the town. Many of these are close to the main strip.
  • El Descanso, (near the stadium), 00593 (0) 2 390-0443, [8]. Clean and comfortable rooms, hammocks, kolibris in the garden, excellent breakfast, nice and friendly woman running the hostal; 12 US-$ for room with shared bathroom, 16 US-$ private; info@eldescanso.net 16 US-$.  edit
  • Dragonfly Inn, Corner of Quito Avenue and Sucre St (entering town, first place on the left after crossing the Canchapi River), 593-2-217-0426/593-9-238-2189, [9]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12:30PM. Offers clean rooms that are finished in wood, private baths, hot water, comfortable beds and outdoor balconies. Room rates include breakfast. Plants and hummingbirds abound from the restaurant balcony overlooking the garden patio along the river. Singles $25, doubles $43, triples $58, quadruples $77.  edit
  • La Casa de Cecilia, checkout="11PM" price="$6 per person or camping for $3 per person" lat="" long=""> Shared showers, hammock deck and communal kitchen overlooking the swimming area on the river. Delicious breakfast for $2.50 and free luggage storage if you are catching a bus after checkout time. None of the rooms are entirely closed off, so it gets quite loud if anybody is having a conversation. </sleep>
  • El Carmelo de Mindo Lodge, Mindo, +593 93071459, [10]. El Carmelo has a tree houses cabins, some of them equipped with jacuzzi. Also has its own butterfly farm. Horse back riding, canopy tours, tubing, and birdwatching are also available. US$ 50.  edit
  • Rubby Hostal, (a 5 minute walk from the main road), 09-340-6321; 09-193-1853, [11]. Higly recommended for its clean, basic finished wooden rooms and hearty breakfasts. Shared bathrooms are clean and there is also a hammock balcony and water dispenser. The attic room is beautiful and can host up to 7 people. Owner Marcelo is a known bird watching guide, and the will even come to meet you at the bus stop. $8 incl breakfast.  edit
  • La Casa del Camino Mindo, Calle Quito S/N (Frente al Colegio Tecnico Ecuador), land line 02-2170456 / Cell: 08-7713908, [12]. checkin: 12:00pm; checkout: 11:30am. This rustic style hostel at a short walk from the town centre offers private ecological cabins with linens, towels, a full bathroom and a splendid view of the property. There's restaurant service for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the staff speaks English. The local fruit trees on the property attract many types of bird species and there's a pond. The hostel offers free Wi-Fi and there's a communal social area. On request, it can arrange tours of Mindo and bus station pick ups. $15.00.  edit
  • La Roulotte, (at km 2 towards Butterfly farm), [13]. 6 new cabins in a nice garden, completed with an excelent restaurant. 35/single; 56/double; 89/4pers.  edit
  • El tio colón. 5 walking minutes from the center away, this newly built hostel offers western-standard rooms including warm water, mosquito nets and towels. The owner is very friendly and extremely helpful. One night costs 6$, breakfast can additionally be purchased for 2.5$ (however, it´s not really recommendable). It´s no problem to leave the room a bit later. We were able to leave at 15:00 and to have a shower shortly before we left, still paying only one night. I forgott my mobile in the room, but fortunately the owner came with his bike and returned it to me - very friendly and honest person! 6$.  edit
  • Hosteria Quindepungo, Via de las Cascadas, 0993360890, [14]. checkin: 10am; checkout: 12:30. Located next to the Mariposario, this rustic style hotel and restaurant is located next to the tranquil Mindo river. With beautiful views of the river, gardens and ponds, this place is great for relaxation and nature lovers. Rooms range from more economic style to spacious and well furnished suites. The property has many nature trails and a private island to explore and see birds, butterflies and other types of wildlife. $30.  edit

Get out[edit]

Flor de Valle's bus station is right on the main road. Bus times are displayed and tickets can be bought. It is also possible to get buses to Los Bancos and Santo Domingo from the main square.

Monday - Thursday

Quito to Mindo 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 4:00 pm Mindo to Quito 6:30 am, 1:45 pm, 3:00 pm

Saturday

Quito to Mindo 7:40 am, 8:20 am, 9:20 am, 4:00 pm Mindo to Quito 6:30 am, 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm

Sunday

Quito to Mindo 7:40 am, 8:20 am, 9:20 am, 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm Mindo to Quito 6:30 am, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm

Mindo is one of the most frequently visited rainforest destinations in Ecuador. It's fantastic birdwatching and high biodiversity, coupled with it's close location to Quito means that it's a very popular destination. Alternative rainforest destinations in Ecuador include the Amazon region, the Esmeraldas region and Piedra Blanca

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