Mindo Valley is located among the western slopes of the Andes Mountains in northern Ecuador. It is known for its many species of birds, butterflies and orchids. The valley is home to the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest and Ecological Reserve.
The Mindo Valley is among the most heavily visited tourist locations in Ecuador. The valley is known for its scenic cloud forest and the many species of birds, butterflies, and orchids. The village of Mindo is located near the bottom of this lush valley.
This mountainous watershed is a transitional area between two biologically-diverse ecoregions: the Chocó–Darién moist forests and the Northwestern Andean montane forests. It covers an area of 268 sq km (103 sq mi) at an altitude ranging from 960 - 3,440 m (3,150 - 11,290 ft).
Within this landscape, three small rivers (the Mindo, Saloya, and Cinto) and hundreds of streams that feature numerous waterfalls irrigate the landscape, a patchwork of cloud forests, secondary forests, agricultural land, and small villages. Much of the land is privately protected, including numerous bird and butterfly sanctuaries.
Famous for sheltering more than 500 species, people from far and wide visit this area for its bird-watching tours. From dozens of species of hummingbirds to the famous cock-of-the-rock, this biodiversity hotspot is home to approximately 16% of the world's bird species.
The valley is a popular hiking destination and for zip-lining over the cloud forest canopy, tubing down the river, or mountain biking dirt roads and forest trails. It is also a part of Ecuador's cocoa route: the Ruta del Cacao.
Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest
The valley is home to the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve. The main feature of this Reserve is the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest, which stretches out over 19,000 ha (47,000 acres) and is situated near the small village of Mindo.
The highest point in the Reserve is the Guagua Pichincha Volcano which peaks at an impressive 4,784 m (15,696 ft) and is visible from the city of Quito on its eastern flank.