Mindo and around

Mindo is a small town surrounded by dairy farms, rivers and lush cloud forest that climbs the western slopes of Pichincha. It is an excellent base for many outdoor activities: walking, horse riding, bathing in waterfalls, tubing (floating down the river in inner tubes), canyoning, canopy zip-lining (a Tyrolean traverse from treetop to treetop or treetop to the ground), birdwatching and more. A total of 450 species of bird have been identified in the Mindo area; it is one of the best places in the country to see the cock-of-the-rock, the golden-headed quetzal and the toucan-barbet. The access road into town is particularly good for birdwatching, as is the private 'Yellow House Trail' (
Hacienda San Vicente
). There are orchid gardens, butterfly and frog farms, and hummingbirds can be seen by feeders everywhere. There are charges for many of these activities. Mindo is a popular destination among Quiteños, it gets busy at weekends and even more-so during holidays.

Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo

Some 19,500 ha around Mindo, ranging in altitude from 1400 m to 4780 m (the rim of the crater of Guagua Pichincha), have been set aside as a nature reserve. It features beautiful cloud forest with spectacular flora and fauna, and many waterfalls. Access to the reserve proper is restricted to scientists, but there is a buffer zone of private reserves which offers many opportunities for exploring.

Some of the area's rich diversity can be admired at orchideariums and butterfly farms where the stages of metamorphosis are displayed and explained, 250 species of butterfly have been identified around Mindo.
Mariposas de
, www.mariposasdemindo.com, is a nice butterfly farm with restaurant and lodging.
is a small simple butterfly farm and orchidearium. A fine collection of the region's orchids can be seen at
Jardín de Orquídeas
, www.birdingmindo.com, which also has cabins and a restaurant.
Mindo Lago
, www.mindolago.com, has trails and cabins around a pretty pond surrounded by vegetation, where you can listen to frogs around sunset.

Several waterfalls can be visited, all on private land. Since the owners cut and maintain access trails, they all charge an entrance fee . On the Río Nambillo is the
Cascada de Nambillo
, four hours return. Just nearby is
Santuario de Cascadas
, a series of falls on a tributary of the Nambillo, with the
added attraction of a 530-m-long
(cable car) to cross the river.
La Isla
, www.laislamindo.com,
is a small forest reserve on the Río Saguambi, with a shelter and camping area. Here are three scenic waterfalls, one used for rappelling, guide compulsory. Canopy zip lines, the latest adventure in Mindo, is available on the way to Santuario de Cascadas; the price varies according to the length and steepness of the run.
Mindo Canopy
, www.mindocanopy.com,
with 3500 m of lines is reported as good.
Mindo Ropes & Canopy
, www.mindoropescanopy.com,
has 2650 m of lines.

A very popular activity in the Mindo area is
, the local name for inner-tubing, floating down a river on a raft made of several inner tubes tied together. The number of tubes that can run together depends on the water level. It is usually done on the Río Mindo, but experts also run the Río Blanco, where competitions are held during local holidays.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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