...from nature walks to ziplining there is tons to do at El Monte.

Activities 2018-10-09T19:10:42+00:00


Pick your level of adventure

Mindo began almost solely as a bird watching and ecotourism destination, and nowadays has added many local activities to complement these nature excusions. These activities have contributed to the conservation of Mindo by being non-threatening to the nature and by providing jobs to the local people of the area.

El Monte visitors can choose from a variety of things to do. You may decide to go on a nature walk from one hour to all day, where your guide will point out many species of plants (including many with medicinal properties) and help you spot birds and other wildlife. Another option is to visit a waterfall, where you may decide to jump from a 33ft (10M) cliff beside the falls. Even if you decide not to take the jump you may just swim beneath the waterfall in the refreshing waters of the Rio Nambillo.

A favorite of many of our guests is a thrilling ride down the Rio Mindo with a rubber tube beneath you, a life jacket strapped to your back and a helmet on your head.

There are many other things to do such as visiting an Orchid Garden, early morning bird watching or you might decide to just relax alongside the Rio Mindo in a hammock with a good book. All excursions and activities are guided.

Below is a sample itinerary… this is just to give you an idea, we are completely flexible according to your arrival times, number of days you plan to stay and individual interests.

Things To do in the Cloud Forest

All tours are guided

Optional Activities (Additional Cost)

  • Tarabita (530-Meter motorized cable car that extends over the Nambillo Valley)

  • Butterfly Farm

  • Orchid Garden

  • Zip Lines (also called “Canopy”)

  • Horseback riding

  • “Queen waterfall”

  • Cock-of-the-Rock Lek visit

  • Day trips from Mindo to higher and lower elevations

Activities El Monte

  • Nature Walks

  • Birdwatching – from casual to “hard core”

  • Swimming in Natural pools

  • Relaxing in a hammock


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.
1:00PM Lunch.
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.
8:00AM. Breakfast.
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.
1:00PM. Lunch
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).
1:00PM. Lunch.
Return to Quito via private transport or bus.

Butterfly Farm

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.


Cable Car

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.


White-water Tubing

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.


Orchid Garden

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.



For those more adventurous at heart there are many options here in Mindo. One of the favorites of many of guests is Ziplining. With a circuit of 10 cables, this activity is fast and furious! A team of 2 guides, plus a system of 2 cables assure the safety of guests that wish to experience this adventure.

Ziplining is an hour nature walk from El Monte, or a 10 minute taxi ride.

One of the favorite adventure activities of our guests are the Ziplines, with a course of 10 lines varying in speed and elevation this should satisfy all adrenaline seekers! The Ziplines are owned and operated by a Costa Rican Company that sends 2 guides with each group and have an extra safety line as well as the main line. 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.


Horse-back Riding

Just outside of 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.



And remember you are on vacation!  So feel free to take some time to just kick back and enjoy the Cloud Forest by lying in a hammock or bed, playing board games, practicing yoga, hang out by the river, reading… whatever you feel like at the moment.


Chocolate Tour

Ecuador has gone from no chocolate brands for export to dozens in the last 10 or 15 years, this despite the fact that Ecuador has always had some of the finest cacao in the world. Cacao only grows in tropical regions and originated in the Amazon Rainforest. Visitors to El Monte Sustainable Lodge may decide to visit a chocolate factory in the town of Mindo, which is about a 10 minute taxi ride or 30 minute walk. At the factory, a guide will walk you through the entire process of making chocolate, from bean to bar, with tastings along the way. At the chocolate factory there are chances to buy chocolate bars and other products.

At El Monte we process our own cacao to produce cocoa for hot drinks and some desserts. Guests are invited to watch and even participate in the process.


Visits to a Cock-of-the-Rock Lek, Orchid Gardens, Butterfly Farm, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking and other activities can be arranged for additional costs for interested guests instead of one or more of the above activities. There is definitely enough to do at El Monte to keep you busy for additional days.

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