My Top 3 Highlights in Mindo
When I heard that Mindo is located in the cloud forest, I had no idea what to expect because that should be my first time visiting one. In fact it is a type of evergreen rain forest on an altitude of 900 to 2.500 meters with an enormously diverse flora and fauna.
We started our journey at the bus terminal Ofelia in the north of Quito. It is really easy to get there with public transportation and as soon as we arrived, we got our tickets ($3) and jumped onto our bus half an hour later. The bus was really comfortable and spacious and the ride took us only 2 hours from Quito. The closer we got to Mindo, the more exited I got since the scenery changed quite dramatically. Then we arrived in this tiny, and beautiful town which is surrounded by deep green hills, which are covered with fog and filled with tropical plants, butterflies and enchanting hummingbirds.
In the following I’m going to present my absolute highlights of my weekend in Mindo!
As real chocolate lovers we had to take part in the guided chocolate tour at El Quetzal, where you learn about the process of the chocolate production from bean to bar and have a chocolate tasting included. It starts every hour, so we just showed up and signed in for the next available tour. After trying the cacao fruit (which surprisingly tastes like lychee to me) we went to see cacao trees and beans in different stages of drying and roasting. In addition we got an insight on how these beans are processed to different cacao products and also to the final chocolate bar.
Then we finally got to our favorite part of the tour – the tasting! We got little pieces of their chocolate to try which had different cacao contents and flavors. After that they served us a plate with a little piece of brownie and a chocolate sauce with 100% cacao content. Beside that plate they gave us a cup of cacao tea to drink.
The tour was very interesting overall and their brownie is so delicate that we had to come back the next day, to have another piece of it in their restaurant!
When you are in Mindo you have many options for activities: tubing, mountain biking, rafting, zip lining, birdwatching, visiting butterfly farms and orchid gardens. But we decided to use the sunny day to hike to a waterfall. You have the choice between a couple of smaller ones that you can reach quickly and a big one. We decided to hike one hour to the big waterfall “Reina”. We shared a taxi from the town up to the cable car Tarabita, but you could also walk up there. The tarabita takes you over the vast valley which is actually an amazing experience! Unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy the breathtaking view completely as I am not a great fan of heights. The other side of the valley is the starting point for all waterfall hikes. The conditions were ideal as we had sunny weather, but it didn’t got to hot, because of the shade in the forest. The hike was fairly easy and that way we could really enjoy the views. We walked past tons of different tropical plants and heard birds singing. The waterfall is really pretty and we took the chance to refresh ourselves and have a snack there. I think that the hike is really worth it, but in my opinion the way getting there was a little bit more impressive than the waterfall itself.
The town itself
Another highlight for me is the tiny town itself. If you are looking for a relaxing weekend, this is the perfect spot for you! The atmosphere is really calm, the people are friendly and you are surrounded by majestic green hills. We were spending our days sitting at the riverside, eating loads of good food or going through a stunning range of hand-made jewelry on the main road. We found a small and cozy place on the main road with live music where we spent our evening and drank some canelazo.
Going to bed with the sound of a frog concert and waking up with birds singing to a fresh, green morning – this is the feeling I associate with Mindo.