Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Mindo is Ecuadors center of birdwatching. Other activities include tubing on the river, zipline canopy through the forest, hiking in the bush
and a visit to the house of butterflies. The valley and forest of Mindo stretches from high to low altitudes and many species of birds live
between the cloud forest and sub-tropical rain-forest.
2hrs Bus from Quito
I caught a bus from Quito
to get here, which took 2hrs. Mindo is an easygoing laidback
village. I ended up spending 4 days here.
There are several restaurants and many tour companies on the main street near the church and accommodation
in town is plentiful and covers all budgets. There are a couple of very small grocery shops, a fruit and vegetable shop and a couple of internet cafes
also on the main street.
Things To Do
Things to do while in Mindo include visiting the waterfalls, the flower gardens of exotic flowers called Jardin de
Orquiseas Armonia, the aquarium and museum, extreme tarzan swing, hummingbirds garden, animal rescue center, chocolate tour and canyoning down 3
waterfalls (12m, 15m, and 25m).
Birdwatching from the Hostel
I spent my first night in Mindo in a hostel 5 mins from the center. There was a cloudy jungle out the back of the
property. I got up in the morning at 5am to do some bird-watching from right there on the top level balcony. It gave me a good chance to practice
my photography of birds for future bird sightings during my stay in Mindo.
The Butterfly House
Later in the day I visited the butterfly house called the Mariposario, it
is 3km from town along an unsealed and sometimes muddy road. I started walking and at some point stuck out my thumb to a passing vehicle and got a
lift the rest of the way. The cost to see the butterflies is $5USD for adults and $3USD for kids. A little more expensive than I would have thought,
but still ok. The butterfly house was pretty cool, hundreds of them flying around the place, you had to be careful where you walked as they were
on the ground also. There are close to 30 different species of butterflies here in all sorts of colors,
shapes and sizes, some of the color pairs the butterflies have are red and brown, black and white, blue and black, yellow and brown. There is an
area where all the chrysalises are pinned up with many of them hatching.
Tubing on the River
Across the road from the butterflies I
watched a family begin their ride tubing down the river back towards Mindo. 7 large black tubes all joined together by rope in a circle shape,
it certainly looked like fun! I hitched a ride back into town afterwards.
Quick Hostel Change
I moved to a different hostel that also had nice gardens and was only
$5 per night for a private room with bathroom and tv.
The next day I visited the hummingbird gardens, it is
in one of the side streets and only costs $1. It is fun and entertaining, it's also very challenging to photograph. Put your camera on full speed
because these guys move and dart around like mad, they are very fast and can also hover in mid-air. The hummingbirds drink sugar water from trays set
up in the gardens and other birds are attracted with bananas. The owner said that Tucans have dropped in for a bite. I actually revisited the
hummingbird garden on another, more sunny day so that my camera would be faster. You must visit at least once!
I wanted to do a proper birdwatching
tour with a guide. I found out that if I did it with a group it would be cheaper because the cost of the tour is basically split by the number of people. I asked some people on the street if they were interested in doing
a tour and as it happened they were, so we booked a tour for early the next morning with Bird Of Paradise Tours. The price was good and the tour
would be 4-5 hrs. We arranged to meet outside their office at 5am, a jeep took about 7 of us in total to the point where we got out and walked. Our
guide had a special telescope and good ears, he could hear various birds and have them in the viewfinder of his telescope very quickly for us to see.
The best things I saw on this tour was a pair of large birds with red necks high in a tree and an awesome black Tucan with yellow and green eyes and
beak. During the rest of my time in Mindo I relaxed and took photos of birds from my hostel gardens and around the village.
Mindo is a magical little
place with an easygoing relaxing feel, where the air is clean and birds many. One of the nice places to visit in Ecuador. Buses leave daily. I now headed 2hrs 15mins to Quito
to spend a few days exploring the city.