For those looking to get away from the chaos of Quito, Ecuador, for the day, the parish of Mindo offers an eco-friendly trip located only 80 minutes away. Mindo is full of nature-inspired activities like waterfall hikes, canopying through the cloud forest and bird watching. The parish is also home to over 1,000 butterfly species, some of which can be explored at the local Hostería Mariposas de Mindo.
Ecuador’s Largest Butterfly Exhibit
This one-of-a-kind guesthouse offers nine rustic cottages, an open restaurant and a mariposa, or butterfly, garden featuring 25 different species. The site boasts being the largest butterfly exhibit in Ecuador with 1,200 butterflies living in the garden. What’s great about Mariposas de Mindo is how interactive it is. Instead of looking at a few butterflies, you’ll get to actually feed and hold them.
A short tour teaches you about butterflies and their life process, as you see tiny eggs, caterpillars and a large display that looks like a jewelry stand. However, those are not earrings but actually butterfly pupae which form to blend in with the natural environment of the butterfly. For example, while some pupae look like leaves and sticks, others look like green stones or shiny metal, depending on their natural habitat. Apparently, butterflies love banana. If you rub a tiny bit of the fruit on your finger and hold it out to a butterfly, the creature will walk right onto your hand. Strolling around the beautiful space, which features tropical plants, ponds and wooden walkways, you’ll see butterflies of all colors and sizes flying around. Make sure to eat lunch in the restaurant which features hummingbird feeders, allowing you to dine among the birds and butterflies.
Admission to the butterfly garden is $5. For a visual idea of Mariposas de Mindo, check out the gallery below.
From Quito, you can catch a bus from the Terminal Terrestre Norte, La Ofelia. The bus to Mindo takes about 80 minutes and is $2.50 each way, although you can’t buy your return ticket until you get to the destination. Because the buses can get crowded, it is wise to purchase your return ticket immediately upon arrival into Mindo. Moreover, I would recommend taking the very first bus of the day from Quito, and the very last bus of the day from Mindo to ensure you have a lot of time. In fact, many people spend the night in the town because there’s so much to do.
Quito To Mindo Bus Schedule:
Monday To Friday: 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 7:40 a.m., 8:20 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: 7:40 a.m., 8:20 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.
Mindo To Quito Bus Schedule:
Monday To Friday: 6:30 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Saturday: 6:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 6:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.
Images via Hosteria Mariposas de Mindo and Jessica Festa