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.
There are bus services 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.
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 It moved a few years ago so ignore any references elsewhere on outdated websites and postings to it departing from Mariscal, since this is no longer the case.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.
Another way for those travellers is to hire a private professional Tour Guide on a 4WD to and from Quito $100-120, 9 hours service. The tour has different stops on the way from Quito to Mindo: the first stop in Pululahua crater view, Pahuma orchid Reserve, hummingbirds balcony (chance for photos), butterfly farm in Mindo, tarabita (cable car) and optional zip line in Mindo, lunch and possible short stop at the Equator Line on the way back to Quito. Visit us on: www.mindocloudforest.com
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.
- 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. [email protected], 02 2 170 045
- At Reserva Ecologica Pachijal , 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), . Mindo Chocolate Makers, Bean to Bar Chocolate making seven days a week at 4:00 pm. (Possibly more often: the Saturday we were there they had them at 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm.) $5.00 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. Organic gardens tours are free but by appointment only.
- Drink Artisan Beer made in Mindo. Also at El Quetzal you can taste hand-crafted beer for the first time in Mindo. El Quetzal malts their own barley for this unique Ecuadorian beer. Don't miss the chocolate stout made with Mindo Chocolate Makers Chocolate made from the bean at El Quetzal.
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.
- El Quetzal, 9 de Octubre (Across the street from Amigos de La Naturaleza, Mindo, Ecuador), . 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 in freshly made waffle cones are 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.
- 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, .
- "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.
- Cafe Mindo. Try the Mexican Burger a well cooked beef patty with bacon, guacamole, cheese, tomato and beans.
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. El Quetzal malts their own barley for this unique Ecuadorian beer. Don't miss the chocolate stout made with Mindo Chocolate Makers Chocolate at El Quetzal.
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, hosted by Claudia (from Quito) and Chivo (a local) - a rustic 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 in large groups sleeping rooms as well as single, double and 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. Make sure to ask about the breakfast price before you are served. The vibe is laid back and for the hipper/rocked out set in the main house. Groups with parents and children are accommodated in separate houses on the property. A patio with 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, cascades, private protected lands and will also pick you up from Mindo from the bus. 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. $26.00 per person per night and includes a delicious breakfast and chocolate tour. Chocolate making tour from bean to chocolate bar includes chocolate samples. Contact [email protected],  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.. [email protected], [email protected], www.caskaffesu.com., 593 2 3900 400. Please refer to the good tripadvisor reviews for this guesthouse.
- Mindo Biohostal, 200 meters from the central park, has a restaurant, cafe, and bar in addition to 10 spacious rooms. Each room has a private bathroom and new and comfortable beds. Rooms are available for solo travelers, couples, and groups. There are plenty of social areas (and enough space on the first floor to hold a conference), hammocks, a small area upstairs for reading and relaxing, and a public computer with internet access, as well as free wireless internet for those who bring their own computer. Bedrooms are well-lit, well decorated, spacious, and very clean, and have new furniture including beds, tables and a desk. 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 [email protected] or call inside ecuador 09 936 0801 or 02 223 2783. From the bus station, walk toward the park, turn right at the first street (with central park on the left) and walk about 200 meters.
- Casa Divina Lodge, ([email protected]), ☎ 0991725874/0990509626, . Prices from $90 a night and include breakfast, evening meal and unlimited tea, coffee and filtered drinking water. Each room has a private porch with hammock, spacious living quarters and an elegant bathroom with full-size bathtub. Each room can accommodate 1 to 4 guests. Meals in the family style dining room and there is a beautiful observation deck on the 3rd floor of the main house. Short self-guided hikes that offer great lookout points around the property as well as guided bird tours are available. Birdwatching possible in forest. Tanagers, quetzals, toucans, hummingbirds are at your window making it possible to birdwatch even from bed! Casa Divina Lodge also offers a range of tour packages for birdwatching, photography, adventure and a great combination of all.
- Cabañas Armonia Stay with the lovely Toapanta family in a beautiful orchid garden surrounded by hummingbirds and tranquility. Tel 3900431 o [email protected]
- Birdwatcher´s House,  Clean and comfortable rooms with private bathrooms and hot water available 24 hours. Jacuzzi, bird watching tours. A place to relax and enjoy the surrounding aromas of flowers as well as the sounds of singing birds. In the gardens of the Birdwatcher’s House it is possible to see up to 50 different species of birds. The hostel also offers: restaurant service, cafeteria, laundry service and expert bird watching guides. Contact Vinicio Perez at [email protected]
- El Bijao hotel is a fair way from the bus drop-off point, but has plenty of space to relax. Hot water from the shower is a matter of luck. There is a restaurant.
- There is a wide choice of accommodation in Mindo, in fact there are probably more hotel/hostel beds than actual residents in the town. Many of these are close to the main strip.
- El Descanso, (near the stadium), ☎ 00593 (0) 2 390-0443, . Clean and comfortable rooms, hammocks, kolibris in the garden, excellent breakfast, nice and friendly woman running the hostal; 12 US-$ for room with shared bathroom, 16 US-$ private; [email protected] 16 US-$.
- El Carmelo the tree house lodge, Mindo (Via el Cinto), ☎ 593 93554170, . checkin: 11 am; checkout: 11 pm. Treehouse cabins, some of them equipped with jacuzzi. Also has its own butterfly farm, a 1,5 pathways miles. Horse back riding. Canopy tours, and 65 acres where you will discover the great amount of birds, animals and plants. Canopy, tubing and birdwatching is also available. 45,00.
- 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, . 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.
- 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 $2.50 and free luggage storage if you are catching a bus after checkout time. None of the rooms are entirely closed off, so it gets quite loud if anybody is having a conversation. </sleep>
- El Carmelo de Mindo Lodge, Mindo, ☎ +593 93071459, . El Carmelo has a tree houses cabins, some of them equipped with jacuzzi. Also has its own butterfly farm. Horse back riding, canopy tours, tubing, and birdwatching are also available. US$ 50.
- Rubby Hostal, (a 5 minute walk from the main road), ☎ 09-340-6321; 09-193-1853, . 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.
- Hostería El Carmelo (El Carmelo de Mindo), Via al Cinto, ☎ 593 93554170, . El Carmelo has a wonderful tree house and amazing facilities, Pool, jacuzzies, butterfly farm, trails and more. El Carmelo is a must visit place in Mindo area
- La Casa del Camino Mindo, Calle Quito S/N (Frente al Colegio Tecnico Ecuador), ☎ land line 02-2170456 / Cell: 08-7713908, . 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. $15.00.
- La Roulotte, (at km 2 towards Butterfly farm), . 6 new cabins in a nice garden, completed with an excelent restaurant. 35/single; 56/double; 89/4pers.
- El tio colón. 5 walking minutes from the center away, this newly built hostel offers western-standard rooms including warm water, mosquito nets and towels. The owner is very friendly and extremely helpful. One night costs 6$, 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$.
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
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
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