Mindo is a small town set in a beautiful cloud forest in the foothills of the Andes mountains. To get there, we took a 2.5 hour bus ride from Quito. The bus dropped us off on main street and we got a room at the Dragonfly Inn, just steps from where the bus let us off. Our room had two balconies, one with a hammock and the other with a hammock swing. The Inn sits along a creek and we could hear it roaring, felt like home.
After settling into our room, we headed back to the lobby and talked with the owner about things to do in the area. He was super helpful, and within minutes, we had an itinerary planned out for us.
The next morning, we got up early to go bird-watching. It wasn’t something we thought we would do, but Mindo is known for being one of the best places in the world for bird-watching, so we decided to check it out. When we woke up that morning, it was pouring down rain. We worried that the birds would be in hiding. Our guide told us that we would still go, and that the rain should stop soon. Well, the rain never did stop, but we did manage to see a number of different birds. For me, the most exciting part was seeing two different types of toucans. And, not just one at a time, but groups of them together. They were beautiful to watch.
There are over 600 species of birds in the Mindo area. We were only able to see a handful, but I can see why people would enjoy it. There is this anticipation that builds as you wait to spot birds, and then when you do, they are quite beautiful to watch and it makes you want to see more.
Our bird-watching tour lasted from 6AM until almost 10AM. Afterwards, we headed back into the cloud forest to go ziplining. We’ve gone ziplining before (in Nicaragua and Honduras) and really enjoyed it, so we were excited to be able to do it again. There are two different canopy tours in Mindo, we did the “Mindo Ziplines Tour” as we heard it had better scenery. This was our first time ziplining with a double cable (for the entire course, we were harnessed to two cables instead of just one). I liked it a lot better – I felt safer and steadier.
Jay took video on the GoPro of the cable we did in tandem…
The ziplining tour was A LOT of fun! And, in my opinion, one of the best ways to see and experience the cloud forest. You really feel like you are flying. After ziplining, we walked to the butterfly farm. We enjoyed the views along the way.
Mindo has several butterfly farms. We went to “Mariposas de Mindo” which is known for being the best of them. They recommend that you visit in the warmest part of the day, as that is when the butterflies are most active.
Our last activity in Mindo was the El Quetzal de Mindo Chocolate Tour. It’s an in-depth tour where you see the process and learn how chocolate is made from “bean to bar”. This was my first time ever doing a chocolate tour. I learned so much about how chocolate was made. I didn’t realize how many steps were involved, and I certainly didn’t realize that it all starts with a bright yellow cocoa pod fruit! During the tour, we tasted the beans at the various stages, including straight out of the fruit, where they taste nothing like chocolate. It makes you wonder who first came up with the idea, and how in the world they figured out all the steps to get it to taste so good by the end of the process.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Mindo cloud forest. Of all the places we visited in Ecuador, it’s one of our favorites.