For being such a small town, there are so many amazing things to do in Mindo, Ecuador. This little town in the Ecuador cloud forest is surrounded by waterfalls and is home to some of the country’s most impressive biodiversity.
There are plenty of activities in Mindo, too, including ziplining, canyoning, and much more.
One of the best parts of visiting is all the things to do in Mindo – you could easily spend a week relaxing and unwinding here and taking advantage of all the town has an offer. These are some of the best activities in Mindo – and how to enjoy them best!
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Day Trips to Mindo
Can’t find time in your itinerary to stay overnight in Mindo? Though spending at least one night in Mindo is the best way to enjoy the town and all the things to do here, day trips to Mindo from Quito are quite common.
Small group day trips to Mindo can be quite inexpensive for all that you’ll see and do here for the day and are a great way to get out of Quito for a bit and enjoy nature. Day trips from Quito usually include a variety of Mindo’s best activities, food, and of course, transport.
For more about public transport options (and much more about visiting Mindo) check out our complete travel guide to Mindo!
Private trips can also be relatively inexpensive and aren’t actually always that much more than group trips. Private day trips from Quito to Mindo are very popular and benefit from being entirely customizable so you can plan exactly the activities you want in your day.
If you’re a birdwatcher, check out this birdwatching day trip from Quito which includes special birdwatching excursions and stops that most day trips from Quito don’t include. Or, check out this hummingbird birdwatching excursion!
What To Pack for Ecuador
Check out our Ultimate Ecuador Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Ecuador and what we never travel without.
Things To Do in Mindo
There are so many popular activities and things to do in Mindo, Ecuador. For such a small town, there is a good number of tour providers along the main street that organize activities and excursions.
You can also ask in your hotel, hostel, or lodge when looking for tour providers, activity schedules, and more.
No matter what you choose to do in Mindo, you’re bound to have a great time enjoying this peaceful, natural paradise. These are some of the activities in Mindo you have to look forward to.
1. Ziplining in Mindo
Ziplining is easily one of the favorite activities in Mindo, and this is one of the best places for it in Ecuador – here you’ll find the perfect combination of jungle views and mountains without too much upward hiking to start.
Mindo Zipline Tours is the best company to use for ziplining excursions – they’ve been doing it for years and have the best installation in the area. They have options for ziplining tours on a route with ten ziplines, or a shorter route with three ziplines.
The guides are really great, and will help you fly backward or upside down if you dare.
Mindo Activities Pass
Ziplining excursions are a part of the Mindo Activities Pass, a pass put together to help visitors save money on some of the most popular excursions in town. If you’re interested in any of these excursions, check out the pricing on this pass to save a lot!
Options in the activities pass include ziplining, visiting Mindo waterfalls via cable car, bike rentals, visiting the butterfly garden, and chocolate tours.
2. Birdwatching in Mindo
Birdwatching tours are one of the major draws to Mindo for many – people come from all around the world to Mindo specifically for birdwatching. Mindo is known as being one of the only places in the world to see the black and bright red Andean cock-of-the-rock.
Even knowing nothing about birdwatching, I got to see plenty of hummingbirds around town and in the cloud forest when hiking to the waterfalls, ziplining, and more. This was an incredible experience itself!
Two-day, one-night tours from Quito are very popular and include lodging at some of the lodges in town that are more focused on providing excursions for bird watchers – this birdwatching tour is a popular one for those looking for private transport to and from Quito and just a one night stay in Mindo.
One well-known tour guide is Richard Hernandez. He has tours within Mindo as small groups and also private tours, very well known and respected but affordable pricing.
If you’re interested in staying in a lodge with a focus on birdwatching, including taking part in their private or group excursions, check out Casa Divina as a relatively inexpensive option close enough to Mindo to walk into town.
Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge is one of the ultimate destinations for birdwatchers in Mindo. It is further out from the center of Mindo and more immersed in the cloud forest, perfect for seeing wildlife or for those looking for a remote getaway.
3. Chocolate Tours in Mindo
This area of the cloud forest in Ecuador is one in which the cacao plant is able to thrive, meaning that a small local chocolate production has spring up in the area. El Quetzal in the middle of Mindo has a workshop and production area where they make small-batch chocolate, and host two different “chocolate tours.”
Travel Tip: These chocolate tours are inexpensive and a fantastic way to spend a part of the afternoon or evening after a more adventurous morning of activities like ziplining or canyoning. And you’ll be rewarded with taste-testing afterward!
El Quetzal’s most popular chocolate tours run frequently throughout the day, starting every hour, so it is easy to fit into any schedule. These chocolate tours include picking cacao pods from the tree, seeing how chocolate is dried and prepared, and peaking into the preparation processes in the factory… this includes samples, of course!
El Quetzal’s evening tour, called the Leyenda de Chocolate tour demonstrates and allows participants to participate in the chocolate-making process, including roasting the beans, grinding them, and mixing in the ingredients like milk. You’ll get a peak into the factory and, of course, a taste test as well.
Plus, you can’t come to Mindo without eating one of El Quetzal’s famous brownies. They’re packed with fresh, homemade chocolate… and easily the best I’ve ever had!
4. Hiking in Mindo
Mindo is a great place for hiking, with several waterfalls surrounding the town. The best place in Mindo to hike to waterfalls is in the Santuario de Cascadas Mindo, where there are seven waterfalls to visit.
There are three main groupings of these waterfalls:
- Cascada Nambillo;
- Cascada Reina;
- A series of five additional, smaller waterfalls.
Cascada Reina is the largest and most impressive of the bunch, though it is about a 50-minute hike from the starting point.
I’d recommend visiting the Cascada Nambillo as well as the series of five smaller waterfalls – these together were extremely impressive, and we loved following the river to find them all.
To hike to all seven falls takes around 3-4 hours in total, though you’ll want to leave extra time for swimming and enjoying the water in the smaller falls.
5. Soar Through the Air on The Tarabita Cable Car
A favorite way to start a waterfall hike in Mindo is riding on the Tarabita – this is a cable car that runs across the cloud forest and takes riders to the spot that marks the start of the most popular waterfall hikes in the area. It is worth a ride even if you don’t want to hike afterward!
The tarabita is very impressive, and though it takes just a minute to cross between the mountains, it is hundreds of feet in the air above the forest (also made of steel and totally safe).
6. Biking in Mindo
One of the easiest ways to enjoy Mindo and especially if you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas, renting a bike for the day is quite inexpensive.
While Mindo center is small and can be seen on foot, this will let you explore and get off the beaten path, including the less populated areas around town.
Having a bike also makes for easy transport to activities that are a bit of a distance outside of town, like visiting the Mariposas de Mindo butterfly garden and waterfalls.
For the more adventurous looking for a more scenic, guided route, biking excursions are organized from nearby Nono to Mindo – this route is almost exclusively downhill and is gorgeous and scenic. Organizers often pick up participants in Quito for transport to the starting point of the excursion but will pick up from Mindo as well.
Real Dreams is one of the organizers of this excursion, growing in popularity with more adventurous bikers in Ecuador.
7. Tubing in Mindo
Tubing is one of my favorite activities in Mindo – it’s so simple but really invigorating and exciting. You’ll sit on inner tubes strapped together, and a guide goes down the river with you to push the tubes away from rocks and around bends.
The river isn’t very deep, and while there are “rapids” they aren’t too strong, so it isn’t very dangerous – just fast enough to be fun.
The water in the river is higher in the wet season (November through April) and lower in the summer, so it will be more invigorating in the wet season, but I’ve gone tubing here in both the wet and dry season and it is great fun regardless.
I used the MindoXtrem Birds company every time I went tubing in Mindo, including on occasions when I was guiding large groups of people and I had a great time each time!
The guides do a fantastic job steering the tubes and making you feel safe.
8. Canyoning in Mindo
Canyoning is very popular in Mindo – as well as in Baños, Ecuador – and consists of repelling down a series of waterfalls through the cloud forest.
This activity is a really great way to get in a hike through the cloud forest and an adrenaline rush at the same time. It is certainly thrilling, though not too physically challenging.
We used Mindo Canopy Adventures for our canyoning excursion and had a great time – highly recommended! The guides take safety very seriously, and each waterfall you head down has all the hooks and cables already prepared, and permanently cemented in place.
Mindo Canopy Adventures is one of the vendors of the Mindo Activities Pass – while canyoning isn’t offered as an activity in the pass, if you’re looking to do at least two other activities in town, I recommend looking into it!
Where To Stay in Mindo
For a budget lodging option in Mindo, I can’t recommend Casa de Cecilia enough – I stayed there several times on several different trips to Mindo and loved it.
This special spot is just on the edge of town – a two-minute walk from everything, yet wedged up against the forest so you feel like you’re secluded.
Casa de Cecilia has private rooms as well as dorm rooms for backpackers. The property has a beautiful river with a small swimming hole, and a covered pavilion with hammocks, plus a fire pit.
A nicer option for those with a slightly bigger budget is Mindo Coffee Lodge and Spa. This small hotel has a very luxe and modern feel but comes in at under $100 a night.
Lodges in Mindo
Casa Divina is a popular lodge in the area that will give you a true feel of being in the forest, though is within walking distance of town for convenience. They organize their own birding expeditions.
Another popular lodge, Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge, is the true haven for bird watchers and those that want a true jungle escape so to speak. Located several minutes outside of Mindo in the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve protected area, this is a true haven.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.