Home > Mindo cloud forest, a nature lover’s heaven

Mindo cloud forest

The cozy small village of Mindo and the surrounding area was named in 1997 as the first Important Bird Area in the Americas (first IBA) for its exceptional fauna, botanical abundance unique in species, and flora, considered vital for an ecological and responsible tourism development.

The exceptional place for green outdoor activities, nature lovers, adrenaline seekers, chocolate lovers and bird, frog,  insect and orchid watchers.

What is a cloud forest?

“A cloud forest is subtropical or tropical evergreen montane moist forest with high levels of mist or cloud cover mostly at the canopy level of vegetation. All year cloud forests have almost 100 percent humidity according to the University of Illinois study. In the humid tropics, montane cloud forests are found at an altitude of between 500 and 3,500 meters, according to a United Nations University report”. (Source: world atlas)

Where is Mindo cloud forest located?

Mindo is located in the north west of Quito at about 80 km of distance through a winding and scenic road. In the outskirts of the Pichincha volcano. From Quito to Mindo it is approximately a two-hour ride from the north end of the city. Where within a 15-minute ride, once out of the city you will start to notice a fabulous change in vegetation as you start descending the Andean mountain range.

How many inhabitants live in Mindo?

This town was founded in 1861 and the current population is approxiately 3000 inhabitants. (source: INEC)

Mindo inhabitant’s main income activities are:

  • tourism
  • agriculture
  • cattle breeding.

What is the elevation of Mindo Ecuador?

The elevation of Mindo´s town is 1250 m or 4100 ft. The cloud forest of his area of Ecuador goes from 960m/3280 feet high to almost 3150m/9842 feet. The town of Mindo is located within this ecosystem´s stripe.

What is the weather like in Mindo Ecuador?

The climate tends to be warmer than the weather in Quito and quite stable, temperature ranges from about 15ºC – 24ºC (60ºF – 75ºF) all year-round. Some rain is common in any cloud forest, so bring proper gear. There is no a total dry season, but the climate is drier from May to September.

What to do in Mindo cloud forest?

Whether you want to scape of the city in search of pure air, enjoy nature and/or want to have some adventure! This is the right place for you!  Some of the best things to do and see  in Mindo and its surrounding cloud forest are:

Mindo waterfalls

These are 3 different hiking trails that will get you to seven waterfalls, where according to your physical condition you may choose to do all the trails which can be doable in a full day of hiking or, you can choose to do only one of the trails, I would recommend to take the 5 waterfall trail and go up to the waterfall you feel ok, but if you feel in good shape to visit all of them it will be even better!

Mindo cloud forest zip line

This sport is for travelers looking for some adrenaline and just as the case of the waterfalls you have the options:

  1. go for a round trip of ziplining
  2. take the 10 lines tour, where these zip lines are  located at different altitudes and with different lengths

Mindo chocolate tour

This is a fantastic explanation of the process of chocolate making from the moment it is harvested and on. In Mindo, there are two artisanal chocolate factories which produce small batches of different products out of one of the best varieties of cocoa beans. Known by chocolatiers as National (cocoa bean )or  Cacao Nacional,  therefore one of the best dark chocolate on the planet is produced in this unique factories. At the end of the tour, you will be able to sample all the mixes like chocolate bars with coffee, with lemongrass, with hot pepper and so on. Also, sample a delicious piece of brownie and more stuff made out of the National cocoa bean.

Mindo hummingbird watching

This a garden within the town of Mindo, though when you step into this garden you will feel transported to the jungle. This a very interesting garden with an interesting story behind,  where you can see many different birds quite close and especially get very close and see about forty hummingbird species that visit this garden every day. Also, many other birds can be seen at this same spot as:

  • tanagers,
  • rufous motmot,
  • Guayaquil Woodpecker,
  • toucans,
  • cock of the rock if lucky, just to name a few amazingly bright colorful birds.

Mindo bird watching

Bird watching in Mindo is offered at two or three different resorts where they are specially set for bird watchers and the photographic equipment a birdwatcher normally uses to take the best pictures as tripods cameras and telephoto lenses, it is not actually in the town of Mindo but within the cloud forest reserve, going up the mountains.

Tarabita ride in Mindo

The Tarabita is a horizontal cable car that is normally used to cross to the other side of the river in many rural areas of South America where no bridge has been built and steep canyons need to be crossed, though, in the case of Mindo, it is used as a fun touristic attraction that takes you to the other side of the mountain leading you into the waterfall hiking trail.

 Mindo frog concert

So that you can enjoy this tour, it is recommended to stay in Mindo overnight since it starts at 6 pm and lasts approximately one hour, otherwise, you will have to return to Quito very late.

The frog concert tour starts with a small introduction, here you will have the chance to see and learn about several species of frogs and enjoy their beautiful bright colors and designs in a natural pond setting. Frogs gather at this time of the day to sing their loud sounds while standing on top of the leaves.

Mindo river tubing

This is the sport that locals started practicing about 10 years ago and by which Mindo became touristic and known for. This is about a 2 km ride in the Saguamby river,   this sport is similar to rafting,  with a different boat,  where several tire tubes are tied together with ropes. It is a relatively safe sport when you practice it with a guide and the required safety gear, a helmet and a life vest! You will have a lot of fun and see things from a different perspective.

What to pack for Mindo Ecuador?

  • Comfortable clothes
  • hiking or sneakers shoes
  • swimming suit
  • mosquito repellent
  • sunblock
  • sunglasses or a hat
  • bottle of water
  • a snack, although Mindo offers several places you can go for lunch in town!

What to wear in Mindo Ecuador?

It is suitable to wear light cotton clothes for example:

long or short sleeves are just fine since Mindo has the privilege to normally have a pleasant weather all year round.

shorts or light pants,

Bathing suit in case you would like to soak in the rivers and beach shoes to avoid sore feet from stepping on stones

Hiking shoes are suitable for the hikes but it is not a must

Hat or sunblock

Small backpack for miscellaneous belongings

Mindo butterfly Sanctuary

About 90 species of butterflies are found in this area, and in fact you will see them almost everywhere in Mindo, also there are two butterfly greenhouses where you can observe all the four butterfly stages, from the time they lay their eggs, become a caterpillar, then attach themselves to a branch and hang from a Pupa in the transition stage before becoming  a delicate and gorgeous butterfly,  all this is part of the Mindo Nambillo Reserve.

Mindo Nambillo Eco Reserve

It is a 19000-hectare area where according to different studies show that a third of Ecuador’s diversity in flora and birds are found in this area. Thus this region is home to some of the highest rates of plant endemism in the world. This lush forest gathers a number of waterfalls with crystal clear waters that feed important hydrographic systems, vegetation with a great variety of species, as well as 500 bird species, where about 32 of them are endemic and  several of them are in the list of endangered birds.

Among the most representative are:

Birds

  • The cock of the rock with its bright red color
  • Hummingbirds, 150 species of humming birds)
  • Toucans, laminated beak, toucan of chocó, pale peak Arasari,
  • Parrots
  • Owls, howler owl
  • Wild ducks
  • quetzals
  • caciques
  • tanagers
  • mountain turkey,
  • yumbo
  • partridge
  • osprey
  • butterflies, 90 species

Flora, abundant

  • Wild orchids 170 species have been identified
  • giant Ferns
  • bromeliads
  • mosses
  • lichens among other

Trees

Within the arboreal vegetation, it is still possible to find species such as:

  • cedar
  • Sangre de Drago (medicinal blood of the dragon)
  • tangaré
  • matapalo
  • white Canelo
  • Colorado
  • carachacoco
  • red myrtle
  • myrtle
  • copal
  • olive tree
  • motilón

Shub and herbaceous flora

Within the shrub layer can be observed:

  • shanshi,
  • lily of hill
  • colca
  • suro

Among the herbaceous species are:

  • tinder
  • lashipa
  • nettle
  • savoy grass
  • anthurium
  • bromeliad
  • orchids.

Getting from Quito to Mindo

You will need to get the Calacali la Independencia highway for about 80 km up to the entrance to Mindo, then continue for 12 km more through Mindos´s main road and town.

You can get to Mindo by car, bus or through  a  Mindo cloud forest tour or a Mindo multi-day tour, to visit and explore on your own, there is public transportation at the Carcelen Terminal where buses leave to Mindo cloud forest every two hours

Many of these activities can be accomplished in a day tour, yet in a Mindo two day tour you will have the time to fully enjoy this place and do some extra activities as the night tour (focused in insects) and/or frog concert.

If you made it this far reading about Mindo and would like to join our Mindo cloud forest tour, please leave us your info below and we will get back to you shortly.