Top 8 Things to do in Mindo, Ecuador

December 29, 2017 Myesha Cogley

Discover the best top things to do in Mindo, Ecuador including Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge, Nambilla Cascadas, Mariposas de Mindo - Butterfly Garden, Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve, Las Tangaras Reserve (Reserva las Tangaras), Nathaly Butterfly Garden, Lago Mindo Frog Concert, Rio Bravo Reserve.
Restaurants in Mindo

1. Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge

Between Nanegalito and Mindo | at Km. 66, Mindo, Ecuador +593 98 725 3674
Excellent
77%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 172 reviews

Paz de las Aves Bird Refuge

Reviewed By BenSAllentown_PA - Allentown, PA

Stop #1: Refugio Paz de las Aves Back to our first stop. We didn’t really suffer from the elevation, Quito and UIO are both at 9350’. We did suffer a little bit from the heat and humidity. The shuttle from UIO to both RP and MP is about 2 hours +/- on Rt28. You turn off Rt 28 I believe at the village of Nanegalito to head into MP. You go a few Kilometers further on rt28 after the town to get to the RP left hand turn. Both sites are several Kilometers off of the asphalt on the bumpy Ecuadorian clay.
We overnighted on arrival at the airport Wyndham hotel. Very nice. Easy to get to, there is a recurring shuttle van that picks up right outside the baggage claim area at UIO.
I have to confess that we don’t speak Spanish. This was not really much of a hindrance though. We got by just fine. We communicated mostly by email with RP, NW and MP. This mostly worked – but the Internet/cell is generally not great for the lodges either – and sometimes there was a little stress waiting for replies and confirmations. The first small miscommunication was with Vinicio at RP regarding the pickup at the Wyndham. Vinicio had sent an email saying the driver (Rodrigo) would pick us up at 1:30am when he meant 1:30pm……to which I replied via email and Vinicio ended up picking us up at 8:30am. Which was great for us – but unfortunately hard on Vinicio. All in all, all the lodges were very accommodating, as one would expect.
So, after a nice breakfast at the Wyndham – we were collected by Vinicio. We through our duffle bags in the back of the pickup and headed off to RP. We generally had pretty great weather throughout the trip. We had some rain showers at RP and MP – but nothing that interrupted anything important. Quito is building a new bypass to the airport – but it wasn’t quite open when we arrived. Seems that we basically drove through the north end of the city up over a mountain pass. The east side, Quito side, of the mountain is pretty arid desert. Once you get over the pass – the lush cloud forest starts. On the drive in, Vinicio stopped so Stacey could use the ladies room (a small fee service if you want tissue!)…..and there happened to be a convenience store – I went in and got a couple of cokes and a 6 pack of cervesa!!
The RP family was a standard mtn farming family before Vinicio’s father, Angel, decided to try ecotourism with his ability to ‘habituate’ the antpittas and his cock of the rock lek. I will botch this part of the story up – and will count on Stacey to correct me here. The farmers of the cloud forest are just amazing! Literally they have deforested sections of the mountain tops and they have cattle grazing on the sides of these Mountains. They are also growing corn and other crops like blackberries. The RP story, as I recollect it, has the grandmother having 7 sons. Vinicio’s father, Angel, was taking blackberries to another local lodge to sell them and he came across some birders…..the long and short of it is that he realized there was a market for his birds! He had a better lek for the cock of the rock – and also had access to the antpittas. Our impression, confirmed by Vinicio, is that the farming life is not an easy or prosperous life in Ecuador. Angel tried to make a pitch to his brothers to make a go of ecotourism – but they didn’t think he could make a go of it…….seems the family squabble got bad enough that Angel had to lease another piece of farmland to do his ecotourism separate from his brothers. Now, I believe, that his brother Rodrigo has joined the operation. Rodrigo is really a great guy/guide. Stacey and I were a bit curious as to how the food was going to be on our trip……….and, I have to say, one of the best parts of the trip was the food at each stop. The food was really amazing!! At RP, Maria, Angel’s wife and an assistant (maybe Rodrigo’s wife Diana) prepared the food. Delicious! Fresh juices and local produce. I really liked the Mtn Tree Tomato juice. The kitchen and eating area are detached. We had the one room with an ensuite bathroom. I have a medical condition – and my own bathroom is really nice…the Ecuadorian septic systems cannot handle the tissue – so you need to dispose of the toilet tissue in little trash cans (you do get used to it) – we are spoiled in the US with decent septic systems!...the hot water was provided through an electrical appliance at the shower head. Not perfect – but it worked. All the power in Ecuador is standard USA outlets…..(I don’t know why I didn’t check this before I left – I was expecting the 220 European power (I made a couple of stupid mistakes for someone that has traveled a fair amount)). Using the US currency was also nice! Anyway – the family lives on the first floor of the house – and the guest rooms are on the second floor. There is a second communal bathroom for the other three guest rooms on the second floor. There is also a little guest area, for the day trippers, on the property with two bathrooms and picnic tables for sitting and observing the hummingbird feeders. They also put out a couple of plantains for the tanagers and other species to snack on. The hummers are amazing – if you sit and observe for a while – the hummers will invariably come and “buzz” you……you can literally feel the breeze they get so close…..there are plenty of bugs – so the evening and morning lights attract some neat flycatchers. There are a lot of lodges that make day trips for a fee with their clients to see the cock of the rock lek and the antpittas. The cock of the rock seems to me like a guarantee to see, the antpittas are also pretty reliable. We saw 4 of the 5 species of antpittas. We only missed the yellow fronted – and we were going to take another stab at it – but our flight to Coca left to early and we had to skip it. Angel, Vinicio, Rodrigo and Maria were fantastic. They really tried to show us whatever we wanted to see. I am also attracted to butterflies, moths and anything with 4 legs. I would encourage people to actually stay here vs staying at a lodge and just making a day trip. Maybe it is just me, but you get a better feel when you break bread and see how people really live in a spot. Rodrigo drove us to the airport on departure morning. The drives are simple – once you get on Rt28 it seems you basically just go straight to the airport. You do drive by the Equator museum/monument which we managed to just drive by 4 times (we heard it was a neat place to see and take a picture – but it didn’t seem important enough every time we drove by it)!
We spent some general birding time during the day – spotting a common pootoo sleeping on the top of an exposed branch. Got some decent pictures of it with a scope and smartphone. They also knew about some night larks on the other side of a creek valley that they focused the scope in on. Not too many raptors. We did see some neat woodpeckers – but too far away and too dark to get pictures.
We purchased 3 tshirts as we were leaving. Turns out an Ecuadorian XL isn’t quite the same as a US XL! NBD. This is definitely a small, family operation, but really a nice place to stay. Cell service seems to “free up” / become available / get stronger in the parking lot in the middle of the night. So, basically no service – sketchy at best at night. Kind of workable though. I was actually able to check in to our TAME flights at 3:30am or so……we didn’t ask about any soda or liquor at the meals – we just took the bottled water and fresh juice. I had brought a 6 pack of cervesa and a coke – and we did have those while there. Probably best to stop on the way in at a store if you need any snacks or beverages.

2. Nambilla Cascadas

Mindo, Ecuador
Excellent
51%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 244 reviews

Nambilla Cascadas

Reviewed By floridaleeman - Tampa, Florida

You have to get to the Quito Olefia-Norte Terminal Terrestre to get the $3.10 bus to Mindo. I took the Quito city buses, and you should be on your game or you'll pay in time because you need to get there early. A day trip is literally a 14 hour trip, but certainly an adventure. (Ever been in a jammed full Quito city bus? Worse than Guayaquil and possibly as bad as a big city in Japan or India!) ---- Then 2 1/2 hours on a beautiful bus ride into the rain forest Mountains, different than I had seen in two weeks in the Andes. The little city (almost a village) is great and a sociological wonder for me. The taxi is going to cost you unless you want to walk 5km just to get to the cable car. $5 for the cable car, no cost back, bang the wires with a big stick to let them know you are still on the trail needing to get back, but they know the drill and in the mid-afternoon know you are coming back. Be nice to the taxi driver on the way there, make a deal, and he'll come back for lesser cost to take you back to Mindo (which my guy did and three pretty German girls got a huge break via my forethought). Don't walk the dirt road to the cable car, or I'll bet you'll be wiped out even if you're staying at a hostel in Mindo. When at other side ready for hike, turn left and you go down to apparently a series of smaller Waterfalls toward the river, turn right and you go to Reina Cascada. That hike will be about 4.5km up and down all the way. Very cool. Mindo was a great little place and one of my favorite places during weeks in Ecuador even though I was only there for a few hours. Enjoy!

3. Mariposas de Mindo - Butterfly Garden

Mindo Sector la Yaguira a 2km del pueblo de Mindo, Mindo, Ecuador +593 2-224-2712
Excellent
54%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 656 reviews

Mariposas de Mindo - Butterfly Garden

Reviewed By Wayne P - Cross Lanes, West Virginia

My wife and I visited the butterfly garden while staying in Mindo last week. It was a very interesting experience. The butterflies were beautiful and the facility was well maintained. The only downside was that all of the signage was in Spanish and we do not speak Spanish.

4. Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve

Mindo, Ecuador
Excellent
66%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 95 reviews

Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve

Reviewed By ArcticVision - Kiruna, Sweden

A rich type of forest with extensive bird life, other animals and plants, is realtive easy accesible. Even in a day visit you can get a reasonable impression of this kind of habitat. Recommendation is to hire a guide for bird-watching, but you need to start early then.

5. Las Tangaras Reserve (Reserva las Tangaras)

Sendero Cascadas Nambillo | La Puerta Es Antes de la Tarabita Y 2km Caminando Hasta El Rio Nambillo y la Entrada de la Reserva, Mindo, Ecuador +593 99 058 7084
Excellent
82%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 48 reviews

Las Tangaras Reserve (Reserva las Tangaras)

Set in spectacular cloud forest near Mindo, Ecuador, Reserva las Tangaras is home to more than 300 bird species including Choco endemics: Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Club-winged Manakin, and Choco Toucan. Rare amphibians and reptiles, 25+ species of hummingbird, spectacled bear, and endangered capuchin monkeys reside here. We invite "ecologically minded" visitors - birdwatchers, photographers, and students of wildlife conservation. Las Tangaras features: Guided visits to an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, with up to 18 cocks displaying at sunrise and night walks to see tropical frogs. A network of trails, camping areas, and river and waterfall swimming holes are easily reached from the reserve lodge. We offer a beautiful and comfortable lodge with a large private or communal sleeping loft, hot showers, flush toilet, library, and delicious homemade meals. Join us at the Reserve for an incredible experience living in, learning about, and exploring the cloud forest.

Reviewed By bysnake - Bremen, Germany

This is a place for everybody that wants to come close to the undisturbed cloud-forest. We stayed a full day (8 am - 4 pm) hiking around having lunch with the lovely Reserve-Managers which were eager to share their knowledge and their bird-books to help...MoreWe're so glad you enjoyed your day at Las Tangaras. The tranquility and solitude is our favorite part of the reserve.

6. Nathaly Butterfly Garden

A100m right next to Central Park, Mindo, Ecuador +593 2-217-0122
Excellent
39%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
9%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 72 reviews

Nathaly Butterfly Garden

Reviewed By Rita C

A smiling older man guided us through rows of orchids, pointing out every variety with enthusiasm. He was even more enthusiastic over his butterflies, showing development from egg to a beautiful butterfly. Butterflies were everywhere, colorful and some as large as a man's face. The hummingbird area has a pergola with hammocks from which to watch and listen as birds fly all around. The setting is natural and not commercial so every photo has a backdrop of lush vegetation.

7. Lago Mindo Frog Concert

Hosted at the Lago Mindo Hosteria, Mindo, Ecuador
Excellent
41%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
22%
Poor
3%
Terrible
7%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 100 reviews

Lago Mindo Frog Concert

Nightly tour of the Gardens by flash light. Frogs, toads, spiders, fireflies and more!

Reviewed By Hardoil - Toronto, Canada

Hotel Staff suggested this visit not expecting anyone to take them up on the offer. You must leave at 6.00 pm as the venue is a taxi ride away. Entrance fee was $10.00 I think and we were disappointed with the waiting area thinking that that was all there was. Finally a guide showed up as we were the only guests. He was very interesting and informative but spoke only Spanish. The tour took about 1 hour and I recommend it.

8. Rio Bravo Reserve

Cordillera de San Lorenzo Via Cascadas El Nambillo, Mindo, Ecuador 593 97 863 172
Excellent
88%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 8 reviews

Rio Bravo Reserve

Reviewed By Hector C - Madrid, Spain

We went for a long walk with a guide that we contracted in the town center. The experience was amazing, after a ~30 min drive by car, we just entered in the real jungle. You can visit several Waterfalls and enjoy all the sounds and clean air from the region. It is also great if you like to spot beautiful birds and insects.

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