Tucked away in the cloud forest, on the slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes lies the sleepy town of Mindo: the perfect spot for a range of adrenaline sports. Whether it’s tubing, canyoning, mountain biking, canopy flying or hiking, you can do it all in Mindo.
Because I was physically unable to partake in any of these activities, I had a far more mellow “Mindo experience” than most visitors. And yet, Mindo was my favourite place in Ecuador. There is something magical in the air in Mindo.
Since adventure sports were not an option for me, I created what I would call a “Mindo for the broke”-itinerary. Though we weren’t actually broke, I figured this is exactly how I would spend my time if I had run out of money: skipping all the pricier adrenaline activities. Despite that they’re relatively cheap in Ecuador, they’ll still eat away at your budget.
My pseudo ‘Mindo for the broke’ itinerary mainly consisted of…
Broke or not, a woman’s got to eat, right?!
The restaurants in Mindo serve excellent food! I had a meal in almost every restaurant and café in town -not very hard considering the small size of Mindo. Every single dish I tried blew my socks off. Admittedly, that might have something to do with the fact that we arrived in Mindo after having lived almost two months in a small isolated beach town with limited food options.
Some of the most impressive dishes were the steak in coffee sauce in El Quetzal, and the Mindo burger slathered in chocolate barbecue sauce in Inti Killa. Incredible!
Coffee and cakes.
This is where you can see this is a pseudo budget itinerary. Because let’s face it, coffee and sweets breaks aren’t really a necessity in life… (or are they?)
But I figured, if I can’t have the adrenaline rush, why not indulge in a sugar and caffeine rush?! As it rains quite often in the cloud forest, what better way to wait for the rain to blow away with a warm drink and some carbs? El Quetzal served the best brownie I’ve ever eaten. EVER! I would go back to Mindo just for that brownie!
Joining a chocolate tour.
From bean to chocolate bar to best brownie ever. After having eaten that amazing brownie, I noticed El Quetzal also offers 6$ chocolate tours. It sounds like a cheesy touristy thing to do -and in a way it was- but I was curious to find out all about the chocolate making process. So I caved and joined an elderly group of tourists on the tour.
Hiking to the waterfalls.
Just outside of town, there’s a series of alluring waterfalls surrounded by lush forest foliage. The hike was mild enough that we were able to really take in the crisp mountain air, chase butterflies and splash our faces with cool spring water. To get to the waterfall trails, we took a ride in a cable car soaring high above the canopy, side by side with the wild toucans. The ride could be considered an adrenaline inducing activity by an acrophobe but to everyone else, it can only be described as a pleasant and stunning short jaunt. The hike is free, the cable car ride costs just a few bucks.
My favourite activity in Mindo was relaxing in the hummingbird garden. We paid a dollar or so to enter the garden and had a drink surrounded by hundreds of hungry hummingbirds. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything quite like this before. The buzzing sound of their wings flapping at incredible speed, left me tantalised. I could have easily sat there all day just marvelling at nature…
To find the hummingbird garden, walk into any tourist office in town and tell them you want to see the birds. They’ll point you in the right direction.
And thus ended our 4 relaxing days in Mindo lindo. Full stomachs, no adrenaline, lungs filled with fresh air and a warm and fuzzy feeling when thinking about Magical Mindo.
Are you into adventure sports?