Hike the Trails of the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve
With an elevation that ranges between 1 180 m to 4 780 m, the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve offers the average visitors something different. The main feature of this reserve is the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest, which stretches out over 19 200 hectares and is situated near the small village of Mindo. Mindo, which is just north of Quito, could be called the ‘control-center’ of the reserve as it is from here that most of the great activities available are on offer. Visitors to the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve know that they can hike, try their hand at rappelling, go tubing or ride a mountain bike on one of the many great trails available through the reserve. All these activities offer a whole new dimension to their stay here and are very popular with tourists. Another option is that of visiting the Butterfly Farm known as Mariposario, where visitors can get up close and personal with these delightful little creatures.
The highest point in the reserve is the Guagua Pichincha Volcano which peaks at an impressive 4 780 meters. The Mindo cloud forest reserve forms part of the protected areas that stretch across Ecuador and it was home to the Yumbo-Nigua long before the rise of the Incas. These Yumbo were seen as being great merchants who provided a necessary link between the coast and the highlands, but they slowly disappeared after Spanish colonization. Thus, the area has historical and cultural value in addition to the immense natural value that is normally associated with it. This history and culture is still reflected in the village of Mindo, which was created in 1861 and is regarded as being one of the oldest villages in the area.
If you keep your wits about you whilst in the forest, you may well see a variety of interesting plants and animals. Cedro trees, arrayan, canelo, berries, hill red peppers, aguacatillo and ortiga are easily spotted amongst the vegetation. Since the reserve is home to over 350 species of birds it makes for excellent bird watching. Those interested in mammals can hope to see bats, squirrels, deer, coated bears and a variety of small amphibians. The village of Mindo has a fairly large population and a well-developed infrastructure, including electricity, drinking water, sewerage, telephone lines and a small health center. It is a great place to spend time whilst exploring the surrounding cloud forest and can be reached by both bus and car.