Mindo is located north-west of Quito at an altitude of 1.300 m. It’s an 2 hours drive by bus departing from the Ofelia bus terminal. From Quito city, it’s roughly half an hour drive by taxi to the bus terminal. If you enter the bus, you can’t choose your seat. Have a look at your ticket first; your seat number is written there. The bus get’s quite busy and full due to several stops in Quito and the suburbs.
When we arrived, of course, there was a light rainfall due to the cloud forest. Anyhow, we decided to walk the 2 km to our hostel “La Roulotte”. The road leads along the Rio Mindo which was pretty high and is popular for tubing. Our hostel offers different gypsy wagons instead of rooms. They are well equipped with beds, bathroom, and a fireplace.
We got greeted by many different birds, especially hummingbirds. The dining area is located to several birdwatching and feeding spots. While having a typical Swizz lunch with “Roesti”, we enjoyed the many different bird species. The chef comes from Switzerland, therefore the delicious meals are influenced by his home country. We discussed with Ignazio, the owner of La Roulotte which guided trips we should do.
For the next day, he had organized a guided walk through the private Rio Bravo Cloud Forest Reserve.
The owner and guide Luis welcomed us at the fence to his property. The Reserve was bought by his uncle in the 80’s, a well-known boxer from Uruguay. He guided us to lush rainforest and two beautiful located waterfalls. The first waterfall is called Esperanza in memory to his grandmother. The falls are roughly 45 m high. Due to the high amount of rain from December to June the waterfall level was pretty high. The other fall is even roughly 80 m high and called The Rock. You can’t hike through the forest by yourselves. The trails are muddy and sometimes blocked by fallen trees. Luis had to clear the overgrown trail several times. The cloud forest reserve and waterfalls are at the very end of the Via Cascadas El Nambillo, 8 km distance from our accommodation. After the hike, he prepared us a fresh lemonade in his large old kitchen where water seems to be an infinite resource. The water comes from the upper part of the falls. Due to the weak piping, the taps can’t get closed. Water is constantly running through the sink and ends up in the lower part of the river.
We came back at midday soaked with rain, lighted the fireplace to warm up and to dry our few clothes. We decided to rest the next morning, but Ignazio had nixed our plan. He already organized an early morning bird watching tour for us. The next morning, we got up at 5 am to get a coffee and breakfast, of course, Roesti included. We had to be at the Refugio Paz De Las Aves a private Reserve at 6 am to spot the “Cock of the Rock”. The reserve is located on a 500 m higher elevation. The reason to spot utterly different species of birds. This guide and owner is famous to call the Antpitta. Different species of birds which leaves on the cloud forest ground.
The first tour was pretty busy. We spotted beside the cock of the rock, quetzals, a toucan and other birds. The whole area was exciting. Most of the birdwatchers left the reserve after the first tour. What we didn’t know before. We and just another couple continued deeper into the cloud forest. What we experienced afterwards, was just magnificent. He can really call the birds by their names, and they appear shortly after. The next surprise we got breakfast around 11 am at his remote located lodge. Most impressive are the birds around his house. I couldn’t believe that we can observe the toucan barbet with a seven-color plumage.
The reserve is located on the same elevation than the popular and expensive Bellavista cloud forest lodge. The variety of different bird species was mind-blowing and the perfect end for our time in Ecuador.