Take a group tour to the Cloud Forest
Galapagos Connoisseur offers an easy to book Shared Day Tour to the Mindo Cloud Forest. This tour is by far one of my favorite city escapes.
Mindo is located about 2 hours by car from Quito, traveling on one of the roads connecting the Andes region with the Ecuadorian coast. Because of its elevation (1250 meters above sea level), and because it’s close to the Equator, Mindo and the whole cloud forest region in Ecuador have a unique climate and ecosystem.
Back in the day (the early 90s) I ventured to Mindo with my middle school camping club. I recall Mindo being magical and completely deserted. We stayed at a refuge and went birdwatching and enjoyed some time on the river. The town of Mindo was minuscule at this time. Nevertheless, I still recall the statue of a backpacker/hippie located in the Mindo central park.
Nowadays, Mindo is booming and receives many local and foreign tourists on a daily basis. You will be able to find many lodging options and tons of things to do.
Nature Tours vs Adventure Tours in Mindo
When planning a trip to the Mindo Cloud Forest, you have a choice between a nature-focused tour or an adventure focused tour. Both options are great. On this shared tour you can choose your destiny. You can choose to participate in the Canopy Tour which is a zip-line experience through the cloud (optional with a cost $20USD p.p.).
Upon arrival to the lovely town of Mindo, you will head to the Butterfly Farm (Entrance fee $7.50 p.p), then a nature walk to the waterfalls or the Canopy Tour follows. By the end of either activity you will go for lunch in town. If you have any dietary requirements you can consult with the guide and he/she will point you in the right direction to find an appropriate restaurant. I recommend Mishqui Quinde, it’s a cool hippie restaurant which serves tasty Quinoa soup, burgers and ice-cream.
Following lunch, you will take a Chocolate Tour which showcases the chocolate making process from harvest to tasty bars. You will see how chocolate is made, how the cocoa beans are processed and will have a chance to taste the final product. Return to Quito and stop by at a rest stop perfect for spotting hummingbirds, toucans, and many other bird species.
Nature Activities in the Mindo Cloud Forest
If you enjoy nature and being able to detox from the cityscape then a Nature Tour to the cloud forest is your best bet. You will have some great activities to consider, such as:
- Birdwatching – countless species of hummingbirds zoom around you, as well as many other exotic bird species.
- Butterfly farm visit – an unforgettable experience with the multicolored butterflies. You can even have one rest of your fingertip!
- Waterfall treks – Trek to pristine crystal clear waterfalls. Here you can swim for a bit (remember the water is quite cold) and enjoy magnificent and tranquil views.
- Orchid farm – The cloud forest in Mindo is home to hundreds of orchid species. At this local Orchid farm, you will be able to learn more about this unique plant.
- Chocolate Tour – Mindo is also home to some of the best cocoa beans used to make delicious chocolate. Take a tour of a chocolate workshop where you will experience how chocolate is made from scratch and get a chance to taste cocoa in its different forms.
Canopy Tour (zip-lining) in Mindo
On the other hand, if you fancy an adrenaline rush and seek adventure, then you can opt for the Canopy Tour
- Zip-lining (Canopy Tour) – Going zip-lining in the Mindo cloud forest is truly awesome. Take it from me, this is an adventure like no other. You will Superman through the cloud forest at top speeds and get your adrenaline rush going. (This activity is optional and has a cost of $20 USD per person).
Birdwatching in the Mindo cloud forest
Mindo is renowned for being one of the best sites for birdwatching on Earth. There are close to 600 bird species recorded in the cloud forest area and you might also have the chance to spot spectacled bears, pumas, and even monkeys. However, if you are an avid birdwatcher then you should consider overnighting in Mindo. We suggest the overnight because birdwatching is an early morning activity, usually taking place from 5:30 am to 10:00 am.
Journey into the cloud forest!
Your shared day tour starts with a pick-up at your hotel located in urban Quito. A 2-hour drive to the town of Mindo follows. Your first stop will be Mindo Central Park, continue to a butterfly farm and then choose to trek through the cloud forest and visit breathtaking waterfalls or do the Canopy Tour – Ziplines.
After either activity you will head for lunch in town (not included). In the afternoon you take a tour of the chocolate factory to see how chocolate is made from scratch – a highly recommended activity. Then on the way back to Quito you will make a stop for some birdwatching featuring hummingbirds and toucans.