Mindo: Waterfalls and Hummingbirds

Mindo is a small town high up in the cloud forests of the Andes mountains in northern Ecuador. An abundance of wildlife including butterflies and over 500 species of birds call this biodiverse jungle their home. A range of adventure activities including trekking and zip lining can be organised here.

Amazing scenery of the Andes (at Yunguilla)

However before we arrived in Mindo, on this day we had two amazing experiences! Firstly was a visit to the Yunguilla community and secondly a visit to see some incredible and colourful humming birds.

Street art in Calacali

We had a small treat on the way when Wilson parked in a random motorway service station and Leo brought us biscuits and tubs of dulce de leche to try! Dulce de leche is a sweet caramel tasting milky substance which is popular in South America.

Along with warm, fresh crusty bread, dulce de leche was delivered to the doorstep as part of our morning breakfast when Chris and I stayed for 5 nights in the Atacama Loft, an eco lodge made of thousands of glass bottles in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.

Anyway – a small digression of a happy memory from 2016…

Mitad del Mundo monument in Calacali

We also stopped at Calacali while on the way to Yunguilla which has another Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) monument.

Following our magnificent drive through the Andes we arrived at Yunguilla, a community located in a cloud forest about one hour north of Quito. Between 50-60 families make up this eco-project where in the last 20+ years they have transitioned from trafficking moonshine and destroying forests for charcoal production to becoming a financially independent eco tourist centre.

Yunguilla trekking

In the past, their less eco-friendly activities were a necessity in order to survive. However the Maquipucuna Foundation assisted the Yunguilla community in finding alternative ways of making a living and set up a number of projects. For example, there is a hostel, restaurant and they make and sell cheese and jam.

Following an introduction, our guide Leese took us on a trek through the mountains and into the village of Yunguilla and explained the diverse surrounding nature as we went.

Hut where people lived
Organic gardens
Tropical gardens of Yunguilla

Following our tour we arrived at the lodge restaurant for lunch. This was new and modern and we were given tables on the verandah where we enjoyed stunning views as we dined!

Lunch with a view!
Carrot cake for dessert

The lunch was super tasty and dessert was served on a piece of volcanic rock which had been made into a plate.

Gardens of the lodge at Yunguilla

After lunch Leese took us to the cheese and jam buildings where we were able to sample both and purchase if required.

Yunguilla village

From our wonderful experience of Yunguilla, Wilson drove us through more spectacular scenery to the hummingbird gardens.

Humming bird slo-mo

We spent an hour in awe watching these amazing colourful birds!

Humming birds don’t keep still for long however I was lucky to take some pictures with my camera and videos on my mobile.

Chocolate factory

We were not yet done with the treats! We arrived in Mindo and our final activity for the afternoon was spent in the Yumbos chocolate factory. This began with a welcome cup of hot chocolate.

Cocoa beans

We were shown the production process fro start to finish.

The cocoa beans drying process
Chocolate brownie

At the end of the tour we were given a tasting session. We tried small pieces of about 12 different types of chocolate but best of all was the mouth-watering chocolate brownie 🙂

Chocolate bars for sale in the shop

It was nearly 6 pm and dark when we arrived at the Bio Hostel, our Mindo accommodation. None of us were too hungry after the chocolate tasting however Leo took us on an orientation walk of the town and we had cocktails and a light meal in a new modern restaurant.

Pick ups waiting at our hostel

We began our second day in Mindo with a drive in a couple of pick ups to a nearby waterfall trail.

Driving towards the waterfalls
Cable car

We had to transfer across a ravine, 4/5 of us at a time, to get to the start of the waterfall walk.

At the beginning of the trail there is a small cafe where you can purchase drinks and snacks. This also had a map for you to choose your waterfall route.

On the trail

The routes were easy to follow and we met a small number of tourists doing them independently. Leo was always on the lookout for birds and wildlife and had his laser at the ready!

Our waterfall walk lasted for a couple of hours and as we were now at a lower altitude and in a cloud forest this was hotter and more humid than when in Otavalo.

Butterfly at the waterfalls

We saw 4 waterfalls as part of this trek:

At the end of our waterfall walk, following a tasty lunch in a small Mindo central Persian restaurant with Aimee, Steve and Richard we all travelled by bus off to Quito

Breakfast in the Bio Hostel
Bio Hostel breakfast

But to finish off this post, these are a few photos of the Bio Hostel where we enjoyed one of the best breakfasts of the trip!

Bio Hostel terrace
Humming bird feeders meant we could watch these little guys over breakfast

I enjoyed my stay in Mindo at the Bio Hostel. Mindo as a town has a backpacker feel and staying in this wonderful laid back and colourful hostel was another great contrast in the different styles of accommodation so far in the trip.

View of Mindo from the Bio Hostel roof

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