Mindo Cloud Forest

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.

our room at the dragonfly inn

our room at the dragonfly inn

the creek outside our balcony

the creek outside our balcony

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.

the first bird we saw, an ornate flycatcher...it poised nicely for the camera, showing us both sides

the first bird we saw, an ornate flycatcher…it poised nicely for the camera, showing us both his front and back

 

our guide setting up the bird-watching scope

our guide setting up the bird-watching scope…having a knowledgeable guide is a MUST!

 

aracari toucan, so cool!

aracari toucan, so cool!

 

cute little bird nest

cute little bird nest

 

our first rainy day in ecuador

this was the only day we got rained on during our two-week trip

 

guayaquil woodpeckers

guayaquil woodpeckers

 

two aracari toucans...they were grooming each other

two aracari toucans…they were grooming each other

 

choco toucans

choco toucans

 

there were FIVE choco toucans in this one tree!

there were FIVE choco toucans in this one tree!

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.

on our drive back from birdwatching, jay opted to sit in the back of the truck

on our drive back from bird-watching, jay opted to sit in the back of the truck

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.

all geared up and ready to zipline!

all geared up and ready to zipline!

 

there were 10 different cable routes, for each one, one guide gets you set up and the other guide waits at the other end to stop you

there were 10 different cable routes, for each one, one guide gets you set up and the other guide waits at the other end to help stop you

 

and I'm off!

and I’m off!

 

the BEST way to see and experience the cloud forest!

look at that the cloud forest!

 

there were short walks between platforms

there were short walks between platforms

 

during the short walks, the guides pointed out different flora

during the short walks, the guides pointed out different flora

 

 

at one spot, there was a viewpoint overlooking Mindo

at one spot, there was this viewpoint overlooking Mindo…stunning!

 

weeeeee!!!!

weeeeee!!!!

 

jay ziplining upside down...AKA butterfly style

jay ziplining upside down…AKA butterfly style

 

we did one of the cables in tandem

we did one of the cables in tandem

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.

HUGE leaves

leaves as tall as me!

 

the biggest bamboo trees we've ever seen (should have stood next to them for perspective)

the biggest bamboo trees we’ve ever seen (should have stood next to them for perspective)

 

jay made some friends along the way

jay made some friends

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.

at the butterfly farm

at the butterfly farm

 

so many butterflies

how many butterflies can you see in this picture?

 

you can pick up the butterflies by having them climb onto your finger, but you are not to touch the wings

you can pick up the butterflies by having them climb onto your finger, but you are not to touch the wings

 

holding an "owl butterfly"

I’m holding an “owl butterfly”

 

jay was holding one on his finger, when another one landed on his arm!

jay was holding one butterfly on his finger, when another one landed on his arm!

 

there was an area where you could watch butterflies hatch out of their cocoons

there was an area where you could watch butterflies hatch out of their cocoons

 

morpho elenor...this is butterfly we kept seeing in the amazon, even more beautiful up close!

morpho elenor…this is butterfly we kept seeing in the amazon, even more beautiful up close!

 

hummingbird outside the butterfly farm

hummingbird outside the butterfly farm

 

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.

 

cocoa

cocoa

 

cocoa fruit tree

cocoa fruit tree

 

drying the beans after fermintation

drying the beans after fermentation in banana leaves

 

at the end of the tour, we tasted 100% cocoa...it's bitter without sugar added (thus the expression on my face)

at the end of the tour, we tasted cocoa liquor…it’s bitter (thus the expression on my face)

 

the look on jay's face after tasting 100% cocoa

the look on jay’s face after tasting it…we didn’t expect it to be so bitter. we tasted it again with a spoonful of sugar on top, and then it tasted like normal chocolate.

 

the best part! at the very end, we got to sample all the end products...yum!

the best part…at the very end of the tour, we got to sample all the different chocolate bars…yum!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Mindo cloud forest. Of all the places we visited in Ecuador, it’s one of our favorites.

 

 

 

8 responses to “Mindo Cloud Forest

  1. I think this was the most exciting tour for me yet. Loved all the different birds, butterflies and especially the making of chocolate. I assume it was all dark chocolate which is my favorite. The zip lining looked more interesting this time – I would feel better with a double line, I’m sure. Thanks for another exciting tour. Lv. Grandma

  2. Really enjoyed the video of the zip line, especially since I have never personally done it. It gave me a sense of what that’s like. Great seeing nature of the area. I could almost taste the bitterness of the raw cocoa from the expressions on both your faces! LOL

  3. I loved this place with you!!! You got great photos even with the cloudy/rainy day. Did you try out the hammocks to relax in at the end of your wonderful day there? Nice room with a view!!

    • Yes, we had a little time to relax in the hammocks. Emma happened to FaceTime me when I was in the room and I was talking to her from one hammock while Jay was relaxing in the other. 🙂

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