Tour: 2-Day Mindo Mini-Adventure
- Visit the Alambi Hummingbird Sanctuary
- Check out the Frog Symphony at Lago Mindo
- Take a Chocolate tour!
- Hiking in Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve
- Visit a Butterfly Farm and Orchid Garden
- Go Tubing down a River
It is a fully-packed day, so departures from Quito are best done by 8am today. Your guide will pick you up at your hotel to start your Mindo mini-adventure!
Mindo is only 2 ½ hours from Quito, but there are plenty of attractions around the cloud forest that we’ll be busy all-day long. This is a tour for nature lovers and people who want to see the great outdoors of Ecuador. We’ll be enjoying some quick meals, so pack some snacks if you tend to get extra hungry on your hikes.
Alambi Cloud Forest is home to dozens of species of hummingbirds. It is probably the best place in Ecuador to see these amazing birds, along with a wide variety of other interesting birds. You’ll get so close to the hummingbirds that you’ll feel and hear their wings fluttering right beside you! We’ll spend about ½ an hour with these birds before moving on to Mindo.
The Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve has some of the best waterfall scenery in the entire country. Hiking here, you may encounter squirrels, woodpeckers and even the elusive Andean cock-of-the-rock. Even more elusive are the pumas and spectacled bears that reside here. At Mindo the real highlight is the amazing flora and lush scenery, with towering and roaring waterfalls.
As we start our journey along the trails at Mindo, your guide will determine what trail experience is best for the group. Two popular hikes are both about 5km long, one fairly easy, one quite challenging. They both reward you with great waterfalls – but the more you sweat, the bigger the reward! If you are feeling a bit tired you can also choose to take the optional ($5) Gondola ride back that saves a bit of time by cutting out a couple km of the hikes. Having worked up an appetite, we’ll head out for lunch to a nice local spot offering some a la carte fresh fish, meat and vegetarian dishes. Allow about $10-12 for lunch, not including drinks.
During lunch, we’ll assess the options for the afternoon. The three main options are to visit the butterfly park, orchid gardens or go zip-lining! The zip-lining adventure takes a bit longer than other activities, appealing to our adventurous travelers! The extra cost of $25 is not included in the tour price, but the butterfly and orchid fees are. One thing to note – it may be possible to visit a butterfly farm tomorrow – so if you want to try to do it all, try the zip lines and orchid garden today.
Our afternoon adventures need to finish up in time to hit the Chocolate Road. Visiting El Quetzal de Mindo, you’ll see cocoa trees and have time to visit a working chocolate farm. Learn about how Ecuadorian chocolate is made, and try some samples! You may want to try the locally made craft beer as well.
As darkness begins to fall, it signals the need to head to the night symphony. At Lago Mindo the local amphibians put on a show. Every night the frogs croak and “sing” in a loud, sometimes mesmerizing orchestra of sound. You’ll be able to learn about a wide range of different frogs that call the cloud forest home, including a strange “glass frog”, where you can see it’s heart beating.
Dining options are pretty limited out here by the time our day finishes up and we’re ready to head to the hotel, but the local pizza place is always ready to serve us up after the frog symphony. Get a good night’s sleep, as we have an early morning hike tomorrow.
Your Mindo mini-adventure starts with a pre-breakfast hike today. While you can enjoy the wildlife and nature any time of day, it is early morning when the birds are most active. Your guide will take you out on an easy hike, lasting up to two hours. After stretching our legs, we’ll return for breakfast at the hotel and get our bathing suits on for the tubing adventure.
Tubing down the Mindo River is a great way to soak up the surrounding landscapes and enjoy nature from a different perspective. Most of the river is fairly calm, but there are some small rapids to make things exciting! Normally we’ll strap tubes together to create a mini-flotilla as our group goes down the river. This makes us all more stable – safety first!
If you’re up for it, and didn’t visit yesterday, we’ll have a chance for a quick stop at a butterfly farm after the tubing. Then it is on to Mitad del Mundo and the Equator, which is about 2 hours away. It’s a fun experience to be standing on the equator and see some interesting Ecuadorian history. You can even get your passport stamped here! Lunch options today are either typical Ecuadorian food (about $15/person) or international cuisine (about $20/person).
The afternoon means our mini-adventure is coming to an end. Your guide will drop you off back in Quito. If you want to get dropped off somewhere other than your hotel, be sure to let them know ahead of time.