We are “unique”, mostly because of our environmental philosophy and personal touches. Our aim has been to enjoy living in Mindo, and at the same time help protect the forest and do as low impact of tourism as possible. A conscience decision was made to stay small and that there should be some sort of ratio between guests received and amount of land owned to keep the ecological impact to a minimum.
Just across the Rio Mindo from El Monte is the Mindo Butterfly Farm, which is a favorite of many of guests. At the Farm a guide will introduce you to the entire life cycle of many species of local butterflies, from the egg to the adult. Afterwards you are free to walk inside an enclosed greenhouse observing many of the local butterfly species found in Mindo.
Also found in the town of Mindo is the Harmonia Orchid Garden. With over 200 species of orchids, mostly originating from the Mindo area, the La Harmonia Orchid Garden is a must-see for orchid lovers and plant lovers in general. A guide is provided who will identify the various species of this fascinating plant
About a 45 nature walk from El Monte guests arrive to a 530 meter crossing of the Rio Nambillo by cable car or “tarabita”. The cable car affords spectacular views of the Nambillo valley and also to an extensive system of trails, many of which provide access to waterfalls.
There are many excellent guides in and around Mindo. It started with Bird Guides and has now expanded to English-speaking naturalist guides. This has been one of the biggest successes of the environmental/ecotourism movement here in Mindo. This local development of guides has provided many well paid jobs and helped incentivize knowledge of the fauna, flora and natural history of the Mindo area.
Just outside the town of Mindo, or about a 15 minute taxi ride from El Monte, horse-back riding is offered. Horses are well-trained and walks are offered with a guide on dirt roads. Guests can choose from 1 hour to 2 or 3 hours. Western-style saddles are provided.
One of the favorite activities of our guests is White-Water Tubing. Large truck inner tubes are roped securely together and up to 7 guests can float on these “rafts” down the Rio Mindo. “Float” is maybe not the best word to describe this thrilling journey. Expert guides navigate the raft down the river, go around or over large rocks. In the rainy season this 2 mile trip takes about 15 to 20 minutes… in the dry season about 30 minutes or more.
One of the favorite adventure activitities are the Ziplines, with a course of 10 lines varying in speed and elevation this should satisfy all adrenaline seekers! All 10 lines takes about 1 hour to complete and the Ziplines themselves are about a 1 hour walk or 15 minute ride from El Monte Sustainable Lodge. Ziplining is an hour nature walk from El Monte, or a 10 minute taxi ride.
General Interest Programs
Mindo began almost solely as a bird watching and ecotourism destination, and nowadays has added many local activities to complement these nature excursions.
11:00AM. Arrival to El Monte. A car can be arranged to pick you up in Quito and bring you to El Monte (also the public bus works great). Upon arrival, you will be introduced to your guide and can choose between coffee, tea or lemonade. Later you can get settled in your cabaña, or the guide can show you around the garden and grounds.
3:00PM. Introductory 1.5 to 2 hour walk along a trail beside the Rio Mindo, where orchids, birds and medicinal plants can be observed.
5:00-7:00PM. You might want to take advantage of this time to have a hot bath, visit the bar, play board games in the Main House…
7:00PM. Dinner is served followed by a short conversation on the following day’s activities.
6:00AM. Wake up. (Remember this is optional, you can decide to just have breakfast at 8:00AM).
6:30AM. Guided walk to observe wildlife (mostly birds). There are good possibilities to see toucans, quetzals, parrots (mostly flying) and lots of colorful smaller birds. Sometimes small mammals, like squirrels and agoutis are seen.
9:00AM. Guided nature walk. This walk takes you on a trail that goes up behind the El Monte Reserve and then drops down into the Nambillo Valley. Birding is usually excellent along this path. You will end up at a waterfall, with a crystal clear pool underneath. So be sure to bring your bathing suit! This whole excursion is usually about 3 to 3.5 hours.
3:00PM. The put-in point is just below El Monte, on the Rio Mindo and ends up near the town of Mindo. The actual rafting time depends on how high the river is… in the Dry(er) Season it is about 30-40 minutes, in the Rainy Season about half of this!
5:00-7:00. This is a great time to visit the bar, rest in a hammock, take a hot bath, play a board game…
7:00PM. Dinner and briefing on next day’s activity.
6:00AM. Wake up ( time optional)
6:00AM. Morning bird and nature walk (optional).
9:00AM. Guided walk to the Cordillera San Lorenzo (Mindo-Nambillo). Once in this area you may decide to cross a 530 meter canopy cable car (Taravita de Montaña) that crosses about 100 meters over the Nambillo River Canyon (small additional cost).
Return to Quito