Travel Review of Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge, Ecuador

by on 29th November, 2022


The town of Mindo lies in the cloud forest north of Quito.

It is a small, relaxed place that boasts a range of cafes and restaurants. More importantly, it lies in one of Ecuador’s most beautiful cloud forest areas.


Kat’s Mindo Cloud Forest Adventure

We asked Andean Trails’ Kat about her highlights of Mindo and why she would recommend a visit.

“I was lucky to spend two days around Mindo (a third would have been even better!) and have returned full of excitement and a wish to return.

I liked Mindo itself and really enjoyed the chocolate tasting at El Quetzal. Staying at El Monte Lodge and getting out of town was fantastic—only a five-minute taxi ride from town; it is so tranquil here. The friendly owners are always on hand to ensure you get the most out of your stay.



“We enjoyed walks from the lodge with a fabulous guide who found all sorts of creatures big and small in the jungle, a dip in the waterfall and the tarabita (cable car) rides. The teleferico was fantastic as it was a longer, slower experience than the Tarabita.

“I really loved looking down on the canopy from up high. The ziplining was adrenaline-filled and great fun with amazing views.”


Is Mindo the Cloud Forest Lodge for Me?

“I recommend Mindo to anybody looking for a nature experience, bird lovers, and anyone interested in flora and fauna. Being close to Quito means you only need a couple of days to visit, and the fact that you have many attractions nearby means you can pick and choose how your stay unfolds.

Some may enjoy mostly forest walks, but if you are looking for a wider variety of experiences, then Mindo is a great little hub.

I would definitely recommend it for family travel as there is so much to keep the kids entertained!”



What Activities Are There at Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge?

Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge offers fantastic wildlife set among lush cloud forest. Here are some of Mindo’s highlights.


Waterfall and Nature Walks at Mindo

The area around Mindo is a paradise for wildlife and bird enthusiasts, and a network of paths in the cloud forest surrounds the town. Some are easy to discover independently, but some are much better walked with an experienced nature guide who will point out wildlife along the way and explain its diverse flora to you.

One of the most popular walks takes in a series of waterfalls – go for a dip! It might be on the chilly side, but worth it after a hot jungle walk. Cascada Nambillo is the first waterfall you will reach after a 1.2-mile (2 km) walk. Make sure you venture further to see the other six, Ondinas, Guarumos, Colibrí, Madre, Maderos and Reina.



Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge’s Tarabitas (Cable Cars)

These little cable cars are perfect for traversing gorges and or crossing rivers. You can find them in different places, such as at the entrance to El Monte lodge, transporting you and your luggage across the river.

Mindo’s most famous Tarabita is part of a waterfall loop walk. It will carry you over a thick cloud forest canopy powered by an old Nissan car engine.



Zip Lining at Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge

If you like lofty heights but want to add some adrenaline, head to the zip lines next. There are different lengths of circuits to choose from, and two staff members will accompany you as you fly between the stations in the woods.

Always ensure that you are happy with service and attention on the day and are satisfied with safety procedures.



Teleferico at Mindo

A different type of cable car is the teleferico. Resembling a ski lift, it will carry you over the canopy at about 150 metres above ground—but on a longer, slower journey than the Tarabita.

You will have plenty of time to observe the Cloudforest from above. The views of jungle-clad hills and treetops covered in bromeliads are stunning.



Tubing on Rio Mindo

Seeking thrills might lead you to the river next. Here, you get fitted out with buoyancy aids and helmets before descending the rapids of Rio Mindo on a set of tubes tied together to create a raft.

This section of the river is graded level I, but anybody looking for faster rapids can venture to Rio Cinto (I) or Rio Blanco (III).


Chocolate or Coffee Experiences at Mindo

For a more laid-back experience, stay in Mindo town and indulge your senses by tasting delicious artisan chocolate and coffee produced here. A few different locations offer this. We opted for El Quetzal, as it has lovely gardens to explore.



Whether you choose the chocolate or the coffee experience, your guide will take you for a walk in the gardens. You’ll see how chocolate and coffee grow, plus a variety of local fruit, from pineapples to bananas. In a relaxed setting, you have plenty of time to taste all these treats while listening to experts tell you all about the small-scale manufacturing process.

Afterwards, seize your chance to purchase some delicious chocolate to take away. Or create your own chocolate bar while you are there!



Mindo’s Butterfly Farm

At Mindo butterfly farm (Mariposario de Mindo), you can see hundreds of local butterflies in tranquil settings. The area isn’t huge and is somewhat lacking explanations and information on the various species. Still, it does give a lovely chance to see the butterflies up close.

You can also see multiple stages of the butterfly cycle, with some beautiful chrysalises on display. With patience and good timing, you can see the new butterflies emerging.

A new area is currently being built, which should add to the visitor experience.



Orchid Garden at Mindo

The Armonia Orchid Garden is a private eco-project born from the desire to conserve wild orchids. Here you will find over 250 native species in a private garden, attracting up to nine species of hummingbirds.


Cock-of-the-Rock Birds at Mindo

About an hour from Mindo are several Cock of the Rock leks, where you can watch these spectacular-looking birds gather. Here it will get noisy as the males strive to impress the ladies. You may need to travel around an hour to reach a lek, and it will be an early start, but it is very much worth it.

Leks may change from season to season—the local lodge staff will be able to recommend good locations. If you think you’d be interested in visiting a lek, it’s always better to let us know in advance to reserve a spot for you.


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How To Get To Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge

It takes two hours to reach Mindo by road from Quito. We recommend using private transport to get here.

However, if you are an independent traveller, consider taking a local bus back to Quito. The bus drops you at La Ofelia on the outskirts of Quito, where you can take a taxi to your hotel.


Where To Stay In Mindo, Ecuador

Here at Andean Trails, we love El Monte Lodge for its lovely setting and strong focus on sustainability.

Owners Tom and Mariela are so involved in ecotourism and conservation of the area, and your stay at El Monte will contribute to furthering their efforts. The cabins are spacious, comfortable and made with local materials. Much of what ends up on your plates grows in their extensive gardens. Begin your forest walk straight from your doorstep.



Top Tips and Booking at Mindo Cloud Forest Lodge

Make sure you bring binoculars and insect repellent. A rain poncho is a good idea as rain is never far away.

And don’t forget, it’s best to book up in advance to make sure you make the most of your Mindo cloud forest experience. Contact us for more first-hand travel advice and information.



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