Mindo Cloud Forest

How to Spend 2 Days in the Mindo Cloud Forest

How would you like to spend 2 days in the Mindo Cloud Forest?  

You’re in the right place!

During a volunteer trip to Ecuador, I had some time off to explore. My first stop was the Mindo Cloud Forest. Located 2 hours northwest of Quito, Mindo has no shortage of things to do. It’s still one of Ecuador’s best-kept secrets, but not for long.

Word is getting out. Mindo is a perfect stop for 2 full days of cloud forest adventure.

How to Spend 2 Days in the Mindo Cloud Forest
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How to Spend 2 Days in the Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo, Ecuador is set in a valley surrounded by the Andes Mountains.

The rivers and elevation combine to create a lush cloud forest more than 100 square miles in size. The landscape and climate in Mindo are ideal for the more than 450 different types of birds, numerous species of exotic butterflies, and a variety of animals and reptiles who call the cloud forest home.

Mindo Cloud Forest

The town is fairly compact at its center. Most hotels and restaurants are within walking distance of the main street running through town. For activities in the Mindo Cloud Forest, bikes, taxis, and tours are plentiful and easy to rent or arrange.

Things to Do in Mindo Ecuador

Whether you want to be active, taste artisan-made chocolate, or just find a strategic spot to bird watch, you’ll never wonder what to do in Mindo. As you plan your Ecuador itinerary, 2 days will be ideal for most visitors to experience Mindo and the surrounding cloud forest.

Mindo Cloud Forest

It was quite easy to take part in the activities below. Reservations were either not needed or could be arranged the same day, perfect for spontaneous travelers figuring plans as they go.

1. Hike the cloud forest to the Mindo Cascadas.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Trekking into the cloud forest is an absolute must! Take a taxi to the tarabita, or cable car, perched high overhead Mindo. The Mindo tarabita will carry you across the Rio Nambillo and the cloud forest valley below.

Mindo Cloud Forest

The trees drip with moisture from the clouds sitting atop the forest canopy. Pre-historic leaves line the hiking trails on the way to the cascadas, a.k.a. the Mindo waterfalls. While brightly colored flowers look like jewels sparkling in a sea of verdant green.

Mindo Cloud Forest

There are several hiking paths, as well as a loop to pass by multiple waterfalls. The Cascada Nambillo trail is the most popular hike, with good reason.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Be prepared to pay small fees ($2-$3) along the way to uniformed cloud forest workers to continue along to each cascada, take photos, and swim in the pool at the base of the Cascada Nambillo.

2. Fly through the trees on a Mindo canopy adventure.

Mindo Cloud Forest

It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time zip liner or a pro flying over the trees with your arms spread wide.

A canopy tour over a lush cloud forest is just thrilling! Mindo Ziplines Tour came highly recommended by a local Ecuadorian from our volunteer project and it did not disappoint. We flew across the cloud forest on 10 cables ranging between 500 feet and 1,600 feet long.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Our guides Hugo and Matteo were knowledgeable and took the time to point out flowers and different types of birds, like toucans, as we hiked from platform to platform.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Even after having been zip lining in Costa Rica and the Caribbean, this ranks as a top zip lining experience. Not to mention, the canopy tour didn’t blow our budget to bits at only $20 a person!

3. Learn about Mindo chocolate.

The first thing that strikes you as you learn about the process of going from cacao beans to chocolate is, “How on Earth did humans ever discover chocolate?!” There are numerous steps, several of which are not obvious at all. Whoever first made chocolate surely did so by accident!

Mindo Cloud Forest

Spend an hour with the Mindo chocolate makers at El Quetzal. A guide will walk you through each step, beginning with the cacao bean and its origins in South America to how modern-day artisans make chocolate with varying degrees of sweetness depending on its cacao to sugar ratio.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Tours run 7 days a week at the start of every hour between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Just arrive a few minutes before to buy your tour ticket. El Quetzal also has a restaurant for a bite before or after your tour.

4. Go tubing on the Rio Mindo.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Laze away as you drift down a flatter section of the river or hang on as you bob and spin through the rapids. You choose the type of adventure you want. Single tubes are used for the calmer sections of the river. While on the rapids, multiple tubes are tied together to make a single tube raft.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Either way, you’ll have the perspective of cutting through the cloud forest by water and completely surrounding yourself in the wild beauty of Mindo.

5. Explore the Cloud Forest by bike.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo’s dirt roads and cloud forest trails were made for mountains bikes.

Rent bikes in town and explore at your own pace or bike into the mountains on an action-packed guided tour. Bikes can take you to places in the cloud forest not accessible otherwise, plus they’re a great way to get around town.

6. Surround yourself with butterflies at Mariposario Mindo.

Mindo Cloud Forest

The Hosteria Mariposas de Mindo boasts numerous species of butterflies and the opportunity to see all 4 stages of the butterfly life cycle.

Visitors can walk through the butterfly garden and see butterflies coming out of their cocoons. It’s even possible to feed them. Tickets for this top Mindo attraction are $7.50. It’s possible to walk or bike along the dirt road to the Mariposario just a mile outside of town. Or, for a few dollars, take a taxi.

7. Join a Mindo Bird Tour.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Mindo is a bird lovers paradise! Because of its unique position in the cloud forest with open valleys leading to the coast, the climate is perfect for birds nesting, particularly with their young.

An expert guide will have a keen knowledge of the hundreds of species in the area, and better yet, eyes like a hawk. (I just couldn’t help myself with that one! πŸ˜‰ )

How to Get to Mindo

Quito Ecuador

From Quito to Mindo, there are direct buses that run throughout the day.

The ride takes about 2 1/2 hours and costs about $3 each way. Be sure to purchase all tickets in Quito or immediately upon arriving in Mindo, especially if you’re just visiting for the day. Expect weekend buses to be more crowded than weekday buses.

Where to Stay – Mindo Ecuador Hotels

Mindo has a good variety of hotels, hosterias, casas, and lodges for every type of traveler in all budget categories. Calle Quito is the main street running through the town and most accommodations are situated along this street or within 5-7 minutes by foot. When comparing Mindo hotels, consider location even if it means spending a bit more per night.

Mindo Cloud Forest

I had a really fantastic stay at the Hosteria Saguamby, located alongside the Rio Mindo just a few minutes walk from Calle Quito.

Mindo Cloud Forest

Bungalow-style rooms are spaced throughout the property. The bedding and bathrooms were cozy and clean. The constant sound of the river flowing in the background was soothing and made it easy to fall asleep.

Mindo Cloud Forest

The wifi was excellent and the staff so welcoming and helpful. Breakfast was included in the rate and served in an elevated, open-air, gazebo-like building with hummingbirds zipping in and out of the flowers. Lunch and dinner were also available. Book Now | Check Latest Prices in Mindo

What to Pack

In Mindo, there were a few indispensable items I was glad to have packed! Regardless of how you plan to spend your days in Mindo, these items will come in handy.

1. Daypack: I always travel with my Osprey daypack. It’s compact, yet holds all the essentials with no problem. For excursions into the cloud forest, you’ll need a place for water, your camera, and bug spray.

2. Hiking Shoes: Trails are often slippery and muddy because the cloud forest is always wet. You’ll need a solid gripping shoe with great support. I ordered these Keen hiking boots for my trip to Patagonia years ago and my feet couldn’t be happier.

3. Hiking Pants & Long Sleeve Shirts: Whenever I plan a trip into a dense forest like the one in Mindo, my Patagonia hiking pants are the first to get packed. They keep the bugs off my legs, are super lightweight, dry quickly, and even protect against the sun.

Ecuador’s weather can change quickly and the elevation can make the air cooler than you’d expect. You’ll be thankful for a long-sleeved layer if it’s cool and to keep the bugs away! I pack these Coolibar shirts, particularly for my photosensitive skin. I never have to worry about applying more sunscreen!

4. Bug Spray: Mindo is in a moist cloud forest surrounded by rivers. Need I say more about bug spray??

5. Water Bottle: Ecuador’s water is not safe for drinking so bottled water is a must. Whenever possible, I buy larger bottles of water and use them to refill my water bottle to cut down on plastic waste. Be sure to carry water with you whether you’re bird watching or hiking.

So, would you like to spend time in the Mindo Cloud Forest? Which things to do in Mindo Ecuador are at the top of your list?

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How to Spend 2 Days in Mindo Ecuador
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48 thoughts on “How to Spend 2 Days in the Mindo Cloud Forest”

  1. You are right, the secret about Mindo needs to get out as it is naturally gorgeous and worth exploring. Your pictures and descriptions of your Cloud Forest adventure sound like you had an amazing time. The chocolate visit looks like it was fun and the zip lining as well. Those would be my two first activities πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tip about the long sleeve UPF shirts. I’ll check them out as I’m in need of a couple πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Rosemary. It’s hard to pass up chocolate and flying over the cloud forest. Hope you can make it to Mindo soon!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Just be warned, Rachel! The canopy lines will spoil you with how long they are! πŸ˜‰

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Kim. It’s never bad to have reasons to return to beautiful places! πŸ˜‰

  2. We were in Ecuador earlier this year for a trip to the Galapagos, and we only had one extra day before our trip–I was wishing we had time to get to Mindo and this really makes me wish we had more time! We will definitely have to plan a return trip πŸ™‚ The chocolate tour, biking, tubing, and zip lining would all be so much fun! Looks like such a pretty area!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      The Galapagos must have been great, Jenna! Mindo is fantastic and I hope you can return for a visit again soon.

  3. How not to love Ecuador? I still need to visit the country and I’m doing some research as to what to see there, apart from the usual sights. I had never heard of the Mindo Cloud forest, but it’ll definitely get into my list.

  4. I always love doing those canopy tours, so I’d be all about that! Looking at your photos, Mindo reminds me a lot of the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. I did a study abroad program in Costa Rica when I was in high school and I remember having field trips to the Cloud Forest to look for butterflies and stuff.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Costa Rica for a high school study abroad program sounds amazing, Jennifer. The canopy tour was great! πŸ™‚

  5. This place must have been an amazing experience to visit. I loved the nature and the chocolate. Looks like a beautiful authentic place. I would love to visit Ecuador one day!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      It is still very much authentic, Barb. Tourism is making its way, but you can still get a great feel for Mindo and the Cloud Forest.

  6. Love all your gorgeous photos – seems there’s so much to do in Mindo. I’d love to see that butterfly garden. The color in that pupa were incredible! Also appreciated your tips — I’m going to have to get me a daypack like the Osprey. So nice!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I just love the Osprey day pack, Tami. You really can’t go wrong. Mindo’s butterflies were gorgeous!

  7. Mindo Cloud Forest looks so beautiful. I hadn’t heard of it earlier but having read your post, will surely include it in our itinerary should we plan a visit to Ecuador. Hosteria Saguamby looks like a lovely place to stay. I liked its riverside location!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      You’d be so happy with a stay at Hosteria Saguamby! Ecuador is a great place to visit and Mindo is a must on any itinerary. Hope you can make it soon!

  8. Just returned from 3 weeks in Ecuador. Wow! Trip of a lifetime. Started and ended in with tours of Quito. Hiked Cotopaxi up to the Refugio. Went horse back riding in Cotopaxi NP among packs of wild horses. Spent 5 days in the Amazon jungle swimming with pink dolphins, caiman, piranha, anaconda and boas. Went zip-ling and swinging on the swing at the edge of the world and waterfall climbing in Banos, Rode the train in Alausi, Went whale watching and snorkeling in Puerto Lopez. Had an amazing trip! Shout out to our private driver – Santiago. Traveling in Ecuador can be tricky. Cash is king. Best to leave the driving to a private driver.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Epic, David! Cotopaxi is stunning and I loved horseback riding there. Totally agree, cash is king in Ecuador. (I’ve edited your comment slightly. I don’t post comments with email addresses in them.)

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      It’s such an easy place to return, Mark. Everything was so accessible and the cloud forest gorgeous. Fingers crossed you make it!

  9. Do you have any recommendations for an agency to set up an overnight stay with the excursions you list above ? Great post …

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Samantha,
      Thanks so much for reading. I’m sorry I don’t have any recommendations for an agency. I found it really easy to book our hotel and from there, either on my own or with some assistance from the front desk at the hotel, to make arrangements once I was there. We decided to visit Mindo last minute once we were in Ecuador and found everything really easy to book. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help with an agency.
      Thanks again for reading and I hope you have a great trip. πŸ™‚
      Jackie

  10. Suzette | TrySomethingFun.com

    Thanks for sharing! I’m heading to the Mindo Cloud Forest in a few weeks and I appreciate the advice.

  11. So glad to have discovered mindo through your blog! Me and my boyfriend are now planning to go here when we visit! Where in Quito did you get the bus from? Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      So happy to hear that, Megan. Mindo is a lot of fun! I didn’t take the bus from Quito because I was already up in the northern part of Ecuador and got a ride there. The buses from Quito, though, are quite popular with visitors looking to independently get around Ecuador. Otherwise, there are also tours that leave from Quito, as well. πŸ™‚ Hope that helps and enjoy Mindo!

  12. well, your post sold me on Mindo. Didn’t know about it but will now add a couple of days to our Ecuador trip for an overnight there from Quito. We’re just casual amateur birders but when we were in South Africa a couple of years ago, we did a side trip like this and loved it. After reading your post, which in turn spurred me on to do more research, I know this will be just as good if not better.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Bonnie. So glad to hear you’re heading to Mindo! It’s a birding paradise for sure! Enjoy. πŸ™‚

  13. Hi Jackie, when is the best time to go to Mindo. I hear Ecuador has it’s rainy season. Mindo looks absolutely stunning. I’ve been to Banos, and I went waterfall hopping. Best one to visit was El Pailon del Diablo. I highly recommend going to Banos too. Thank you for your informative post.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Maria. Mindo is so fun! I visited in the summer months of June/July. I’d recommend anytime between then and October. However, in Ecuador, you always should have layers and rain gear because of the weather variations depending on what elevation you’re at. Hope you have a great trip and thanks for the tips about Banos! πŸ™‚

  14. Hi

    We will be in Mindo in a couple of weeks and I am wondering if we need to consider altitude and whether we are likely to suffer any impacts from that? It sounds wonderful and we can’t wait.!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Karen. I don’t think the altitude will be a problem. I’ve been other places and definitely felt winded from it. In Mindo, it wasn’t at all an issue. Hope you have a great trip to Ecuador! πŸ™‚

  15. Dolores D Hernandez

    I really enjoyed the article, I am thrumming with excitement to book passage to Mindo Cloud Forest. I have lived in Ecuador for the last few years but haven’t been. On that note I would like to mention that Ecuador has some of the best water in the world, it just isn’t near Quito or the coast. Your comment about Ecuador in general having bad water while Cuenca has some of the cleanest/ best water in the world might be misleading to people reading who are more unfamiliar with the country.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Appreciate you reading and sharing, Dolores. Good to know about Cuenca, although I must admit, I’d still recommend bottled water or some sterilization method/tool. It’s just not something I’d personally risk for a vacation. Have a great trip to Mindo!

  16. Hi Jackie. Great time for 2 days! It’s good time to collect many photos there. There are many good scenery and activities. I’m thinking about 2 days which is easy to me to make a trip. [LINK EDITED OUT] So, I can spend time there with every corners there.

  17. Wow! Ur website is so cool. I have about 3 days in Ecuador and want to do Mindo at least! The Zip line, omg cant miss it!

    I love nature and was wondering for 3 days in Ecuador in begining of august this yr , what would u recomend? I can pass on the historic buildings . Haha

    Inggrid

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Inggrid. Mindo is perfect for nature lovers. If you can, I’d also see if you can visit Cotopaxi National Park for a day. It’s amazing there, too! Have fun in Ecuador! πŸ™‚

  18. Hi,

    I really enjoyed reading this. You say 2 days is enough – does that factor in the travel from Quito? If we left Quito in the morning and stayed 1 night then returned late afternoon the next day to Quito, is that long enough? Also, how safe are the buses?

    Many thanks,

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Michelle. If you got an early morning bus from Quito and left the next day in the late afternoon/early evening, you’d have a good amount of time to explore the town and do some activities. Just have a plan about what you want to do, in particular, if there are booked activities you want like rafting or horseback riding. With your window of time, you don’t want to wait around or cut a hike short to get back for the start of a booked tour. Also, I didn’t take the bus from Quito so I can’t say. We were volunteering with a local family in the cloud forest not too far away and got a ride to Mindo from a villager. Enjoy Ecuador! It’s a beautiful country.

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