Mindo is a tiny town in the cloud forest of northern Ecuador which caters to travellers looking to discover nature in all its beauty, and experience adrenaline-filled activities. For four days we sought to experience all that Mindo had to offer, and had a wonderful adventure-filled time. In this article I will run through the adventures to be found in Mindo.
- Canopy Ziplining
There are two main ziplining places in Mindo, one of which has a course of twelve lines and the other which has a course of ten lines. We went to Mindo Ziplines, which has ten lines, and had a brilliant time. You can buy your ticket for the ziplining from any of the tour agencies for $20pp. You can walk up to the ziplining site or you can get a taxi from town for $4. I would receommend getting a taxi there, as it is all uphill, and then walking back to town. We did this and the walk back took about half an hour and there were nice views over the town and the surrounding mountains.
The ziplining is a lot of fun; you go around the course with two instructors who help you get attached to each line and instruct you on how to hold yourself going across. You sit for most of the lines, but there are ones where you get to do poses like the superman and butterfly…it’s a little weird at times but great fun, and the pictures are hilarious!
- Mariposas de Mindo Butterfly Farm
The Mariposa de Mindo is a hostel, restaurant and butterfly farm. The grounds are really cute with a pond full of large fish, and bird feeders that are constantly surrounded by tiny hummingbirds. Inside is the butterfly farm which you can enter for $6pp. The farm is amazing, absolutely stunning and FULL of butterflies. You can see butterflies in all their stages of life from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly. The garden is full of beautiful flowers and benches where you can sit and relax in your surroundings. There are also feeding dishes scattered around, and with a bit of banana mush on your finger and a lot of patience, you can get a butterfly perching on your finger!
The butterfly farm is about a half hour walk from Mindo town; it’s a nice walk there along the forest and river. You can pay at the entrance of the butterfly farm or buy a ticket from any of the tour agencies.
- Taribita and Waterfall Hike
The Taribita is a cable car that takes you across a forest valley to the start of the Route of the Waterfalls. The Taribita costs $8pp and you’ll be given a map showing you the hiking routes. When you get across there are two ways you can go; going to the right will take you on a 40-minute hike to Cascada Reina; you will then need to walk back and then continue on the left-hand trail to see the rest of the waterfalls. Between Cascada Madre and Cascade de los Maderos there is a river that you’ll need to cross, which you can do either over large stones or by wading through the river so be aware of that.
The hike is long but really beautiful and worth it for the scenery and views. If it’s a good day and you fancy a swim you can take a dip at the base of some of the waterfalls, so bring your swimsuit.
- Chocolate Making Tour in Quetzal
There are a few chocolate-making companies in Mindo that offer tours to show the process, but the reason we decided to do the one with Quetzal is that they show the entire process from the beans growing on the trees, through to the creation of the chocolate bar itself. They offer tours in Spanish and English alternating every hour so check with them when your preferred tour is on when you go to buy your ticket. The tour costs $10pp and is really worth checking out; you get to see the beans inside the pod, after drying and roasting, and then the chocolate that comes from it before and after the sugar and other flavours are added. Your guide then takes you around the complex to see the trees with the beans growing on them, the area where the beans are left to be dried and to be fermented, the roasting and grinding area, and then the rooms where the chocolate is prepared. Afterwards you are given different types of chocolate to taste as well as a brownie (which is delicious!) and coco tea. You also get to do different chocolate “experiments,” mixing the pure coco liquid with sugar and different flavourings to see how the different flavours are achieved. All in all it’s a brilliant tour.
[NOTE: Quetzal also has a restaurant in which all the food has chocolate in it in one way or another, whether in the BBQ sauce for the chicken wings, or in the mayonnaise for the sandwiches. I wouldn’t recommend eating there; the food wasn’t particularly tasty, it was fairly expensive, and on top of that, I got WICKED food poisoning from whatever dodgy meat was in their sandwich.
However, I WOULD recommend trying out their homemade ginger beer – it’s super tangy and delicious!]
This is an activity that you will see posters for all over Mindo. You need at least four people to do it, otherwise you have to pay extra – basically with four people it’s $6pp, but with less you need to pay $24 as a group for the equipment and guide. Unfortunately, this meant that we didn’t get to do because there was never enough people to try it out. Also we saw people going down the river in the tubes where it was quite shallow and rocky so I don’t know how great it would be…However, I’ve heard good things about it from people so if you get a chance it’s probably a fun way to spend a few hours.
- Frog Concert
This was kind of our fault; we put this off until near the end of our time there and then I got food poisoning so we ended up not going. The frog concert is a night-time tour that run daily and costs $5pp from what I saw in town. The tour centres around observing frogs, insects and microbacterias that produce light. It’s supposed to be very pretty so if you have a free night and are looking for something to do, it’s worth checking out. Tickets can be bought from most of the tour operators and some of the hostels.
- Bird Watching
Mindo is famous for bird watching as there are a huge variety of species that live in the cloud forest. Whilst we were content to spot birds as we wandered around Mindo, for travellers who are avid bird watchers there are numerous bird watching and photography tours running in Mindo as well as specific hostels slightly further out of town that specialise in bird watching tours.
If you’re interested in nature, wildlife and thrill-seeking, then Mindo is the perfect place to visit. It’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere and stunning beauty provide a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the cities, and there are plenty of activities to get your heart pumping when you need a pick-me-up.