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Mindo, Ecuador - Birdwatching, Butterflies & Adventure, 2hrs From Quito

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Map location: Mindo, Ecuador
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Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - July 2011   » View Photoset (63 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
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.

Around Mindo

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.

Hummingbird Gardens

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!

Birdwatching Tour

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.

Awesome Place

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.


View all photos in the Mindo Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Mindo, Ecuador:

Hostal Tia Mely Melyang, Mindo, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Tia Mely Melyang, Mindo, Ecuador (July 2011 - 3 nights) - A lovely and cheap place to stay, room for 2 cost $10, the people are very nice and there are nice gardens out the back for birdwatching, the family were kind enough to let us use their kitchen in their house. The room was big and had cable tv and bathroom, fantastic!
Hostal Rocio, Mindo, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Rocio, Mindo, Ecuador (July 2011 - 1 night) - We stayed in a room at the back of the property next to the cloud forest, in the morning we did some birdwatching from the top balcony. The hostal offers fruit salads for breakfast and is run by a woman who knows a lot about Mindo. A nice place to stay.

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Mindo, Ecuador - Birdwatching, Butterflies & Adventure, 2hrs From Quito. Mindo is the bird watching capital where you can see butterflies and do adventure sports on the river. Mindo has a nice climate, it's a small place just a few hours from Quito!