Mindo: Ruta de las Cascadas

I have been in Ecuador for quite a while, and have seen much of its beauty. However, there are a few places that really stick out in my mind. One of those is Mindo. Mindo is Northwest of Quito and sits in the cloud forest. It’s quite a small town, but has a great vibe and much to do.Going to the the butterfly garden there was one of my favorites. I am told there are two, one in Mindo and one slightly outside. We heard the one outside of Mindo was better so we decided to head there. Although it was small it was jam packed with butterflies of all kinds. There was even an area where they had cocoons hanging waiting to “hatch”. They had little stations of what seemed to be a fruit mixture, that you could place on your fingers or body and butterflies would land on you to feed. It was pretty cool.

Later that day we hiked “Ruta de las Cascadas”, which is a three mile trail with seven different waterfalls, if I remember correctly. Some were big, some were small, and some had water that you could even wade in or take a dip. There weren’t many other people around, so out of the hustle and bustle. It felt nice to soak in the environment and hike the trail with ease. The weather was nice and sunny and it was peacefully quite.

The next day, before catching the bus. We woke up, ate breakfast and then took a chocolate tour at Quetzal. It was really interesting. Although I hadn’t met them, one of the owners is from Minnesota and even has a sister location there. I believe it is under a different name, but am not positive. The tour explained the process of the cocoa beans and took you on a tour of their grounds and garden. Everything is grown and made there, and they waste NOTHING. Everything they grow they use in one way or another. Could be ingredients or scraps as compost. They take you through the process of making the chocolate from the raw bean to the finished product. At the end they give you a taste of the different chocolate varieties that they offer. Inside there is also a cafe with coffees, cakes, hot chocolates and more.

Overall going to Mindo was a great experience and I hope to go back again sometime. Close to the city, about 2.5 hours out, but far enough away to get away from it all. Enjoy Mindo if you have time to stop by, and happy travels!

Written by:  Shannon Etling