Mindo cloud forest has a lot to offer, in fact, there are plenty things to do in Mindo, this is a place where you can spend several days if time permits, with active or relaxing days, meaning that if you don’t feel like being active, you can just chill out, relax and read a book or just watch for some of the many (+/- 450) species of birds that can just pop in front of you, and feast your eyes with their bright, vivid colors. Mindo and its natural beauty is hard to be described with only words, you have to be here to experience it, if you are wondering what things to do in Mindo, this are some of the things to do. Mindo is a birdir’s paradise for its number of birds that can be seen within the reserve and in this particular ecosystem, the cloud forest.
Humming bird watching, this unique birds, can fly backwards, stay still in the air more sideways and flap their wings from 20 to 70 times per second, lay up to two eggs which can measure up to 7 millimeters, being the smallest bird on the planet humming birds are endemic to the American continent. In USA and Canada there are 2 or 3 species of humming birds, while in Ecuador there is about 130 species of humming birds making this area of the Andean Choco a slice of paradise.
Mindo cloud forest has been for many years a magnet for professional and amateur ornithologists who go into the subtropical cloud forests to see up close the wing dance of hundreds of specimens of hummingbirds, the smallest bird in the world. EFE (I). In Mindo, humming birds can be seen all over town or in any of the hikes you chose to do, but if you prefer to see many species of them at the same time and in one place, the “Alambi” reserve or “El Descanso” is the place to go.
El Descanso in Mindo, is a small garden within two blocks away from Mindo’s central park, where the owner of this place, started 18 years ago to bring and plant different endemic plants that would attract birds and specially humming birds, since Rodney (the owner) was not a local, he did not have a clear idea of which plants were the best to attract this birds, so he started to ask a local neighbor, with whom he became friends, his mentor and help with this difficult and patient task. Today this garden is visited by people who enjoy watching not only humming birds but also other birds as colorful tanagers that visit the garden naturally in search of the food placed in the feeders.
Waterfalls hike and Tarabita (cable car)
This is another of the things to do in Mindo, a short or long hike immersed in the Mindo cloud forest, the tarabita ride or clable car is the entrance to the hiking path that will lead you to seven different small to medium size waterfalls, where the waterfalls are just an add-on to the hike since they are small but charming.
Warterfalls, the second waterfall or called Ondinas is the one I would recommend in case you would like to jump in the water, because it forms a natural pool, however when the river is with too much flow it’s better to stay away, always use your common sense and best judgement before jumping in a river. All the five waterfalls are found along the Nambillo river and the nice thing about this hike is that you could chose to walk just to the first one and go back or continue walking all the way to the fifth waterfall they are all along the way with a short deviations from the paths just to be able to enter and then go back to the main path. Therefore, nowhere to get lost.
This hike is nestled in the Mindo Nambillo reserve which is reached by vehicle on a 15 minute ride in about 6 km going up the mountain from Mindo´s main square.
Teleférico or chair lift, this is relatively a new attraction opened to the public mid-2019 and it is literally a chair lift that goes up the mountain above the tall tree tops of the cloud forest, from where users may enjoy an amazing view of the town of Mindo as well as the rest of the lush cloud forest while going up or down the mountain and take some amazing pictures, at the same time spot some birds that might be at the tree tops, this place is also a park called Mindjoy which is mainly suitable for families traveling with children some of the other activities offered by this place are big bubbles where a child can go in there and turn in the water, also at this place there is a restaurant, a camping place, some hiking trails and as well as in every place in Mindo different birds can be spotted.
Ziplining, great attraction for those seeking for some adrenaline in Mindo´s cloud forest canyons, where you will fly like a bird or sit down and enjoy the ride going across a fantastic lush green scenery from one mountainside to the mountainside across. There are two options when talking about ziplining in Mindo: the first option is to go for two lines, one to go across, and another to come back; option two or second option is to go for the full zipline tour which consists of ten lines and at a very reasonable price. In terms of time it will take about 30 minutes when doing it alone or 40 minutes when doing it on a group of 4 to 6 people, for the full ten lines of zipline. When talking about safety two cables are used to hold you to both cables, the main and the backup cable, both of them are tied down to different places just in case one loosens or breaks you will have a backup cable, so no need to worry.
Chocolate tour, it is a highly recommended tour when planning on things to do in Mindo, This is cultural and tasting tour, where you won’t only learn about the process but you will get to see the cocoa pot (the fruit) and taste it, as well as the cocoa tree ( the plant) you will have the chance to see it and also you will learn how it is dried, its fermentation process, all the sub-products obtained from its pulp and shell, the products obtained from the paste and the process to turn cocoa beans into chocolate paste, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, chocolate bars, and more, also its different combinations, tempering accompanied by a local guide that will also tell you many facts about Ecuadors finest cocoa beans and history while enjoying the best dark chocolate sampling and different combinations that will blow your mind, as well as a delicious brownie and some surprise surprise products.
The cock of the rock´s lek, the Rupicola peruviana sanguinolenta (scientific name) Andean cock of the rock, is considered as one of the most exotic plumage wild, birds in the world, this singular bird is the number one magnet that attracts ornithologists and bird watching fans from all over the world to Ecuador´s cloud forest looking for this very unique colorful, bird whose habitat is frequently in rocky cliffs and ravines close to forest streams. To be able to watch this bird in Mindo you will need to start early morning, 6 am is a good starting time from where you can drive to the entrance of the Tangaras reserve get ready for a 30 minute walk up to the entrance of the reserve, rain boots are needed for this adventure since there are areas with mud and need to cross a small river. Once you get there, you can use the different trails and one of them will take you to the cock of the rock´s lek observation place.
Butterfly sanctuary, is one of the many things to do in Mindo, at this picturesque place that houses hundreds of butterflies located at scarce 10 minute ride from the town of Mindo (2 km) visitors can observe and learn about all the stages of the butterfly life cycles from their tiny eggs, caterpillar cacoon with pupa and puppa turns into a butterfly to then leave the cacoon. This place has taken the time to showcase this stages for visitors to observe all these interesting process that a butterfly has to go through in order to become an adult butterfly, some visitors are impressed since a butterfly sometimes can be leaving its cacoon in front of your eyes.
Frog concert, it’s one of the things to do in Mindo at night. Its a night experience where you will encounter with nature that forms the cloud forest, this tour is mainly a night walk through the forest that surrounds a pond, where visitors will not only observe and learn about the different frogs and their distinctive colors and sounds that frogs make but also will have the opportunity to learn about other animals that will be encountered during the walk as, toads, insects, snails, spiders, occasionally small forest snakes, owls or some other sleeping or night small animals
Tubing in Mindo, is considered to be the first recreational sport practiced in this cozy small towns´ rivers and also the main reason why tourists started to visit this town several years ago, and then, little by little became a touristic town with the offer of accommodation, restaurants and several other activities available and many other things to do in Mindo, today, a destination for local and foreign tourist who enjoy nature, adventure sport and other outdoor activities.
Tubing is as recreational sport where an individual or several individuals ride on top of an inner tube it is said that this was invented in Thailand. In Mindo Ecuador the tubes are tied with a rope forming something similar to a raft, this raft is taken into the Mindo river, there you will hop on to the raft and go down the river with a guide on board for about 20 minutes in a distance of 4 km (2.5 miles).