Duration: 1+ Days
Location: Mindo, Ecuador
  • A birder’s paradise and an adventurer’s playground, this tiny town is just a gorgeous two hour ride from Quito. The atmosphere is a laid-back, almost coastal vibe. With only one main road running the length of town and few side streets, you can take your time enjoying your surroundings rather than rushing to get your bearings. Breathe in the warm, moist air and your lungs will thank you for escaping big city life. Outdoor activities include:

    Zip-line tours
    Waterfall hikes
    River tubing
    Butterfly house
    Orchid farm
    Chocolate tasting tour

  • Day tours to Mindo generally depart Quito at 7am though departure times are always flexible. Ride a couple of hours through landscapes that are reminiscent of Jurassic Park (no dinosaurs, we think) and arrive just in time to enjoy a canopy tour soaring above lush valleys before lunch. In the afternoon, hike to pounding waterfalls, indulge in a chocolate tasting tour, or visit one of the largest butterfly farms in Ecuador. With your own driver/guide, you’ll have the entire day at your leisure! Return to Quito when you’re ready…generally, we return by 6pm.

    Price (per person):
    2 pax = $80/person
    3 pax = $60/person
    4+ pax please contact us for a quote

    Wear: lightweight long pants (the very best way to combat bugs!), a lightweight long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, bathing suit, comfortable hiking shoes, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen. If you stay overnight, also make sure to bring a fleece top or sweatshirt as it can get surprisingly cool in the evenings.

    Bring: camera; bug spray; rain coat; water; CASH for lunch, shopping, activities, etc (the ATM in Mindo is often out of order)

    If you are interested in an overnight adventure in Mindo, please take a look at the accommodations tab and then contact us for a quick, custom quote.

  • Zip Lining: Soar through the canopy, across lush valleys, and alongside colorful birds on a system of 10 cables taking you through a total of 7,857 adrenaline pumping feet. Release your daring side as you glide in positions such as Superman and Mariposa (the Butterfly) and let exhilaration overtake you. Plan on 2 hours. Ages 6+. $20/person (2014)

    Chocolate Tour: Stroll through the property and gardens of El Quetzal as you learn all about the chocolate making process from harvesting the fruit through the final product. The best part…a post-tour tasting including one of the very best brownies in the world! Plan on 1.5 hours. All Ages. $6/person (2014) Photos

    Butterfly House: One of the largest butterfly exhibits in Ecuador, the garden at Mariposas de Mindo offers a tour demonstrating the 4 stages in the life of a butterfly (English and Spanish) and has up to 25 different species of butterflies at any given time.  Feed the butterflies, sit by one of the small waterfall fountains as vibrant wings flap around you, or test your patience as you wait for butterflies to emerge from their cocoons. $6/person (2014). Photos

    Waterfall Hikes: Hop in a Tarabita Cable car and glide across the valley to hiking trails leading to pounding waterfalls. Make sure to wear your bathing suit and take a dip in the refreshing waters! Be sure to also wear lightweight long pants to combat the small biting bugs that seem to eat right through any and all bug sprays! $5/person to ride the Tarabita (2014)

    Bird Watching: With somewhere around 1600 species, Ecuador is one of the top birding destinations world wide. One of the best areas for birdwatching in Ecuador? You guessed it, Mindo. With that said, you can imagine that Mindo is swimming in bird guides. Ask your hotel to arrange a guide for you or do a bit of research ahead of time to find your perfect match. If you’re a serious birder, there are several multi-day trips in this area that I can recommend to you, just ask! In town, Hostel El Descanso has a lovely covered porch from which you can watch dozens of birds (including quite a few hummingbirds and even, sometimes, toucans!) flit about in the backyard garden/forest. Come early, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy! Entrance costs $2/person


  • ecuador-yoga-retreat-mindo (22)7km outside of town, the peaceful El Abrazo del Arbol awaits, tucked away at the end of a lush valley. The property includes highlights such as a lagoon bar, steam room, spring-fed swimming pool, dozens of hummingbirds and hammocks from which to enjoy them, yoga pavilion, hiking trails to the river, and on-site organic garden. Your choice of meals can be included for your convenience and the staff always make us feel at home. The lodge has a “tree-house” feel to it. Rooms are small but the beds are cozy and most rooms have private bathrooms. If you are a light sleeper, request a room on the top (third) floor. Don’t plan on having WiFi while you’re here. A camioneta (truck taxi) into town takes about 10-15 minutes and costs $7 one way. The staff is always willing to call one for you.

    Overall: A wonderful location to feel like you’re “away from it all” but still have access to the area’s highlights. Our favorite spot in Mindo.

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    Mindo Accommodation Casa de PiedraIf you’re interested in staying closer to the “action”, Casa de Piedra offers peaceful surroundings just across a small bridge and one block away from the main park in town. They have a swimming pool, outdoor BBQ pavilion, pool table, and foozeball. In the main house, bathrooms are shared (one bathroom to every three rooms) and I highly recommend one of the three top floor rooms. If you would like a bit more privacy, there is a small family cabin for 4 tucked away on an island ringed by trickling streams or two rooms for either 4 or 5 people in the secluded Wooden House. These rooms include one private bathroom each. WiFi is great in the dining area. If you are interested in an early breakfast, make sure you alert the (very willing) staff the day before as it is generally served around 8am, despite the fact that they advertise breakfast beginning at 7am. You can purchase tickets for all area activities here. Bring your own shampoo! Soap and towels are provided.

    Overall: Casa de Piedra is close to town but maintains a feeling of seclusion. A mid-priced option with a great location.


    casa de ceciliaIf you’re on a backpacker’s budget, Casa de Ceclia may be just right for you. Accommodation here is quite basic, the walls are thin, and the bathrooms are shared. The hostel is located right beside a rushing river and just a block from the main park in town. Enjoy watching hummingbirds flit around feeders off the balcony. There are no shared kitchen facilities but you can purchase a basic breakfast for about $3.  Mosquito nets hang above the beds in small but sufficient rooms, the water is hot, and the staff has always been warm and welcoming though I have read some reviews that state they are sometimes difficult to find.