Mindo Cloud Forest River
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Mindo Cloud Forest Tour

Entering an Andean cloud forest, you immediately become aware of an environment like no other. The air becomes heavy with moisture, an instant reminder that you’ve ventured into an area where the clouds meet the earth.

Buried in these clouds, the temperature is usually cool; at the same time, the waters descending from the highlands run rapidly, in stark contrast to the Ecuadorian Amazon’s lethargic rivers. It’s this constant access to water that makes the forest’s vegetation ever lush and green. With sweeping vistas of primordial forest-capped mountains, this mega-biodiverse area possesses a perfect subtropical climate.

All this makes the Andean cloud forest the ideal location for unparalleled ecological excursions and exhilarating adventure sports activities.

The sprawling Mindo Cloud Forest is located high on the Andes’ western slope, at the mid-point elevation between the highland Quito area and the Pacific coast. Stretching out over an impressive 19,200 hectares, the altitude ranges from 1,400 to 4,778 meters above sea level.

Within the forest is the tiny village of Mindo, meaning you’re necessarily close to the surrounding ecological reserve where you’ll focus your activities. Thousands of travelers visit Mindo each year to participate in adventure activities such as rafting, tubing, kayaking, forest trekking, mountain biking, canyoning and horseback riding, as well as more easy-going pursuits such as chocolate-making and ecological endeavors like birdwatching and “herping” (amphibian or reptile searching).

For those interested adventure activities such as forest trekking, the 45-foot high Nambillo Waterfall is one of the most popular destinations (just make sure to pack your bathing suit, as visitors can swim and relax here).

After hiking and swimming in the “waterfalls sanctuary,” take an optional ride on an aerial tramway. This forest cable car takes adventurous travelers through and above the forest canopy.

For ziplining, multiple lines have been strung down the mountain for those wanting to fly over the treetops, soak in the sights and even capture their adventures on GoPro videos. In total, almost two-miles of zipline cable has been added, and the operations are overseen by competent staff.  

Another adrenaline-pumping outdoor activity in tubing down the Mindo River. Led by an expert guide, you’ll pinball down this whitewater river by riding on top a group of five or so large, well strapped-together inner tubes. Dare to enjoy this incredible experience!

For the more earthbound, you can also enjoy the tranquility of horseback riding. Beginning on a dirt road that crosses the Rio Nambillo, you’ll pass through the scenic countryside by horseback, eventually reaching the Rio Cinto.

For travelers inclined to more laid-back pursuits, birdwatching come first to mind. Active birders are likely already aware that Andean cloud forests are world renowned for providing perhaps the best birding in the world. The Mindo Cloud Forest alone shelters an astounding 400 bird species. A birder’s paradise, the avian species in Mindo include ones such as hummingbirds, Scaled fruiteaters, Club-winged manakins, woodpeckers and the elusive Andean Cock-of-the-rock. Rainbow-colored flocks of toucans and tanagers abound along forest’s edges while quetzals, Giant antpittas, and woodcreepers skulk in the shadows.

For additional wildlife watching opportunities in Mindo, you can experience everything from butterflies and bats to squirrels, deer, Spectacled bears and small amphibians. In fact, the area’s pristine clear-water streams harbor an unparalleled diversity of glass frog species, while Mindo’s Hosteria Mariposas (Ecuador’s largest butterfly exhibition) houses over 1,200 butterflies of 25 different species.

Among the exotic plant life in Mindo, you’ll also find Cedro trees, aguacatillo, arrayan, canelo and plants like berries, hill red peppers and the ortiga. The area’s most significant flora wealth, however, is in its diversity of orchids, as one can find over 4,500 species. Cool temperatures and high precipitation harbor an incredible diversity of epiphytes that hang decadently on every tree trunk, making this the mecca for orchid and bromeliad enthusiasts.

If you choose to travel to this forest in the clouds, after a day of more active ecological and adventure activities, you can slow down the pace and visit a delectable chocolate factory. Here, you can learn about how the local company’s savory brownies are made.

As you can see, the list of things to do in Mindo goes on and on – but don’t worry; we here at Surtrek can make it all manageable by custom designing a Mindo experience that suits your particular interests. Only a two-hour drive northwest of Quito, Mindo can easily be visited on a day trip, though more serious nature lovers will likely consider staying at least a couple of nights to explore the forest and its wildlife. However, no longer how long you plan to stay, our travel planners can assist you in selecting the most attractive options. At Surtrek, we’ll help you to select the best lodge, the finest restaurants, the most expert guides, the most efficient and comfortable transportation alternatives, and the most engaging Mindo itinerary just for you.

In short, we’ll see to all the “little” details so that you can get the most from your cloud forest adventure.



“We booked our Galapagos/Peru trip through Surtrek and are very glad that we did.”A. Arima


Cloud Forest, more than 400 species of birds, orchids, butterflies, hummingbirds feeders and waterfalls.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Mindo Cloud Forest Tour
South America Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Mindo Cloud Forest Tour

Pick-up time: 08:30

Days Operation: Daily


mega-diversity of the plant and animal life there private protected reserve butterfly farm
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2020 - Price per person
Days Price per person
2 - 3 Persons
1US$ 234.00 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • Private transportation
  • Services of a professional bilingual guide
  • Lunch
  • Entrance fees
Not included in the price:
  • Personal items and expenses
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Alcoholic and bottled drinks

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Traveler Reviews

“We had a great time in the jungle. Our experience was amazing. Can’t wait to tell you more about it.”Michael McLane