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Mindo Ecuador - A Tropical Rain forest Adventure
Nestled in a tropical rainforest valley in one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, Mindo Ecuador is truly a birder’s paradise. Situated within the convergence of the Tumbez, Chocó and Darién endemic regions, the Mindo-Nambillo protected forest boasts over 300 bird species making it one of the most avian diverse areas on earth. Topping the list of many birdwatchers’ must-see target destinations, Mindo hosts hundreds of adventurists on a daily basis.
However, aside from its siren’s call to the birding enthusiast, Mindo also offers many challenging and interesting activities for the entire family. With tropical rainforest exploits and gardens full of exotic flowers and insects, there is a never-ending plethora of pursuits for every age and ability.
Mindo is a small town of about 3,000 inhabitants and is easily accessed from the capital city of Quito Ecuador. Located less than two hours from the International Airport, it is short journey by car, bus or taxi. Most roads are well maintained and comfortable for travel.
From the Airport it is necessary to travel north past “Mitad del Mundo”, the park marking the equator. Continue on this road through Calacali, the highest point on this journey. Just past Calacali there will be a toll both with a $.80 charge. From this point it is all downhill, traversing mountain roads with constant sharp turns. (Be wary of those who are prone to motion sickness.) The town of Nanegalito is about 30 minutes from Mindo and is a great place to stop, relax, and have a snack. At kilometer 78.5 there will be a left turn leading to Mindo, which is another 6 km from the turnoff.
There is an abundant supply of lodges, hosterias and hostels in the Mindo valley. Accommodations are available for every taste and budget. Prices can vary from $15 to $100 per night, depending on the facility. At the lower end of the spectrum are the hostels, which offer a good value for the price. Room costs are generally listed per person and include breakfast. Lodges, normally the more expensive option, provide more services and a little extra comfort.
There are several restaurants available catering to various tastes in cuisine. In addition to the local fare, there are establishments offering pizza, seafood and steak. Prices are quite reasonable and a hungry traveler can be satisfied on a tight budget. Eateries open for breakfast and remain available until about 9:00 PM. This is a quaint, laid-back village and time is not a priority so it is best to relax and enjoy the slow-paced lifestyle of the locals.
There are almost unlimited opportunities to fulfill the adventurous spirit in Mindo. Visitors of all ages can choose from activities to meet their abilities and daring. From casual walks through the tropical rainforest to rappelling down torrential waterfalls, there is no excuse for being bored in this exotic paradise.
- Butterflies, Orchids and Tropical Rainforest
For the less heroic globetrotter, leisurely jaunts through butterfly forests and orchid gardens can provide a relaxing diversion. Ecuador boasts approximately 2,500 species of butterflies and over 4,000 species of orchids within its tropical rainforest. During a visit to one of the many facilities, the visitor can watch the culmination of metamorphosis as these beautiful insects spread their wings for a victorious first flight. These colorful creatures will alight upon an observer’s finger providing a more personal view of its complex design.
There are 36 waterfalls within walking distance of the main town furnishing various opportunities for the avid hiker. The trails are well maintained and moderate in passage. Many locations have points where the visitor can jump off of rocks into the frigid mountain streams or slide down boulders to the waters below. Hikes may last for a few hours to an entire day, depending on the energy of the traveler.
- Take to the Saddles
Whether one enjoys horseback riding or bicycle riding, there are opportunities for everyone. Horses can be rented by the hour and can provide an early morning jaunt or an all-day adventure. Riding through the tropical rainforest can be an unforgettable experience, encountering the exotic flora and fauna along the mountain trails. Birds, butterflies and forest creatures such as the Watusa may appear from their jungle homes to greet the excited traveler, producing colorful memories for years to come.
- High Adventure
For those with a thrill-seeking spirit there are activities that incorporate a more action-packed premise. Tubing down the white-water rapids of the Mindo River has been popular for many years. Riding on top of gigantic truck inner tubes, daredevils are treated to an exciting ride of frigid waters and threatening boulders. Guides travel along to assist in pulling the vessels from logjams and guiding them through the torrential waters.
Ziplining has become commercially lucrative over the past few years and entices hundreds to challenge the airs over the tropical rainforest. Traveling across gorges more than 100 m (300 ft) deep and covering distances of up to 500 meters (.3 miles) in length, the adventure is blessed by a birds-eye view of the forest canopy. There are additional harness positions available other than the standard sitting posture. The “Superman” permits the participant to assume the super-hero stance while flying over the trees. The “Butterfly” places the subject in an upside down cross attitude, providing a unique perspective on the jungle below.
Another activity that has grown in popularity over the past few years is “Canyoning” or rappelling down waterfalls. Drops of 15 to 80 m (50 to 260 ft) are available for the adventurous climbers. The part that makes this even more exciting is that the participants are descending in the middle of the falls while torrential waters are beating against them, obscuring their vision and enhancing the excitement of the event.
In addition to Mindo Ecuador being one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, it is a location where the entire family can enjoy a holiday tailored to the needs of the individual member. Whether a person just wants to kick back and relax or tackle all that the tropical rainforest has to offer, this is the place to create memories.