From the Galapagos, we flew back to Quito and visited a couple more places in Ecuador. First up is Mindo, a little under two hours away from Quito by bus. Mindo is home to a cloud forest, essentially a rainforest at high altitude. The town is very sleepy on weekdays; more than one business would close with no notice or posting. Right now, Mindo caters to local tourists dropping in on the weekends or holidays and not the international crowd.
To really plunge into the rainforest, we visited the Yellow House Trails where a family has opened their extensive property to the public. Mindo is one of the reasons Ecuador is favorably compared to Costa Rica, only cheaper and more pristine.
The climate conditions of Mindo create an ideal place for vegetation, then insects & butterflies, finally bringing in the birds. This makes Mindo an unparalleled place to birdwatch. The town participates in an international birdcount competition which it has won the past few years. Last year, in the span of twelve hours, 428 bird species were spotted and identified. Having never been birdwatching, we were amazed at the skill of our guide, William Patiño. He had an uncanny knack at spotting (and hearing) birds as well as mimicking multiple bird calls, but it was his skill with the scope that made our outing so memorable. Without a high quality scope, it’s simply impossible to appreciate the vibrant colors and patterns of all the different birds (and sadly we couldn’t truly capture and share what we experienced with our camera).