If you love biodiversity, then the Mindo Cloud Forest is the place to be. This small little town is only two hours from the Capital of Quito. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Ecuador for a reason. One of those reasons is the Mindo Waterfall Hike.
This waterfall hike allows you to see not one, not two, but SEVEN different waterfalls on the same day. I don’t know about you, but that’s the most I’ve seen in one day. Visiting Mitad del Mundo on your way to Mindo is also possible.
In this guide, I will go over everything there is to know about the Mindo Waterfall hike and if it’s worth it.
What is the Mindo Waterfall Hike?
The Mindo Waterfall hike is the most popular activity in the town of Mindo because you have the opportunity to see seven different waterfalls!
Also, to enter the park, you must ride the Tarabita cable car. This is one of the most unique ways of entering a park I’ve experienced.
The cable car makes the waterfall park seem more genuine as it’s harder to reach.
Where is the Mindo Waterfall Hike?
The Mindo Waterfall hike starts in the southern part of the town. There are a couple of different ways of getting here. Some are more exciting than others.
Getting to the town of Mindo is also easy and affordable too.
Getting into the park and transportation is expensive for Ecuador but very affordable, considering it’s the most popular activity.
Quito to Mindo
Either take an Uber or a taxi to the Ofelia bus station. Make sure to go to the back of the station and not to the main platforms. If you tell your driver you’re going to Mindo, they’ll probably drop you off here.
Head to the buildings in the back, enter the second door on your left or ask for Mindo. The cost to ride the bus to Mindo is $3.60. Not bad for a two-hour journey!
How to Get to the Mindo Waterfall Hike
There are two main ways to reach the Mindo Waterfall hike. Both cost pretty much the same amount but one is more enjoyable than the other.
Walking straight to the park entrance is possible, but this takes around an hour. If you’re on a tight budget, this option might benefit you.
We walked to a different cable car which took half the time. I’ll go over those details below.
Taking a taxi to the Tarabita cable car is what most travelers do. The cab should cost no more than $6. This is expensive when compared to every other cab ride of the same distance in Ecuador.
This is a popular activity, so you’ll have no issues finding a taxi to take you there and bring you back. Simply walk to the square and there should be taxis lined up waiting to go.
Tarabita Cable Car
To enter the park to start the Mindo Waterfall hike, everyone must take the Tarabita cable car. I was told by someone who worked at our hostel that there’s a way to take a side trail into the park, but taking the cable car is part of the experience!
To enter the park costs $6, including a roundtrip ticket on the Tarabita Cable car. The cable car ride is fast but takes you over some epic views!
Teleférico de Mindo Minjoy Park
I haven’t read this option on any blogs about the Mindo Waterfall hike. We took this option and I think it’s the best option too!
The Teleferico is another type of cable car that goes much slower than the Tarabita. It also has better views than the Tarabita. But fear not because you still have to take the Tarabita.
Instead of taking a taxi, we walked to the Teleferico de Mindo. It’s only a 30-minute walk and wasn’t bad at all.
We purchased our Teleferico and Tarabita tickets all at once. Doing so reduced the price of the Tarabita by $1. The total price for the Teleferico plus getting into the waterfall park was $13.
If you just want to ride the Teleferico, it’s $8 for a roundtrip ticket. I highly suggest doing this option if going on the Mindo Waterfall hike!
The Waterfalls in Mindo
In total, there are seven Mindo cascadas. You can take three different routes when doing the Mindo Waterfall hike. If started early enough, all of them can be done in one day.
Ruta 1: Cascada Nambillo
Cascada Nambillo was our least favorite waterfall during the Mindo Waterfall hike. Looking at older photos of it, it looks like you used to be able to get much closer. That wasn’t the case when we went.
That said, it’s also the shortest trail out of the three. I think doing activities like these is more about experiencing the waterfalls than trying to see them all. So I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to skip it.
Ruta 2: Cascada La Reina Hike
The longest trail in the Mindo Waterfall Park is Ruta 2. This trail takes around an hour to get to Cascada La Reina. There’s only one waterfall along this trail leaves five total waterfalls for Ruta 3!
Many travelers say this is the best of the seven waterfalls, so head here first if it’s your priority. Cascada La Reina is actually on a different trail.
You’ll want to head to the right when you get off the Tarabita cable car. That’s where this trail begins. A worker in the park should go over the different trails with you. We decided to use Mapsme most of the time and it was easy!
Ruta 3: Five Waterfall Trail
Ruta 3 is easily the most popular trail on the Mindo Waterfall hike. Along this trail, you’ll be able to visit FIVE different waterfalls.
These waterfalls aren’t the biggest I’ve seen but it’s a great place to relax and swim. Even though it’s the most popular trail, only the first waterfall had many people at it at once.
The trail can get a little confusing, so have an offline map downloaded!
Below are the five waterfalls on Ruta 3 in order:
Other Fun Activities in Ecuador:
- Rucu Pichincha Hike: This hike is excellent for those looking to acclimatize while staying in Quito.
- Cajas National Park: A unique experience located right outside of Cuenca.
- Ruta de las Cascadas: During this epic bike ride, you’ll see up to six waterfalls!
- Things to do in Baños: This is the adventure capital of Ecuador and is a MUST on your itinerary.
Things to Know Before the Mindo Waterfall Hike
Information can be hard to find online sometimes, especially for off-the-beaten-path activities. Below are some things worth knowing before heading out for the day.
What to Bring
The weather in Mindo is unlike anywhere else in Ecuador. After all, you are in a cloud forest. During our time here, it always seemed to rain heavily around 6 pm.
Below are some items worth bringing for your Mindo Waterfall hike.
Best Time to Visit Mindo
Mindo is a special place. Even if you visit during the dry season, like us, it still rains regularly. This is what makes this place so magical.
The dryest months of the year in Ecuador are between June and September. This is the most ideal time to visit Mindo. If possible, avoid the months between January and April if you want the lowest chance of rain. These are the rainiest months of the year but normally offer the best wildlife opportunities!
How Much Does the Tarabita Cable Car
Tarabita Mindo cable car costs $6 for a roundtrip ticket. If you’re coming from the Teleferico, then it costs $13 in total for both of those.
Ecuador is an adventurous country. There are so many hikes and activities to do while visiting here. With so many activities, it’s smart to be insured!
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Mindo Waterfall Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is a 2.6-mile out & back trail if only doing Ruta 1 & 3. Ruta 2 adds on an extra 3 miles.
- Duration: On average, it will take people 3 hours to finish. This depends on your fitness level and how many waterfalls you decide to visit.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike moderate because of the heat and steep sections.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 958 feet or 292 meters. This is only for Ruta 1 & 3.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public
Best Places to Stay in Mindo
Mindo has a wide variety of different styles of accommodations. We loved the unique feeling of sleeping in the middle of a cloud forest. Below are some of the best places to stay in Mindo.
- Cinnamon House: We loved our stay at Cinnamon House hostel! This was one of the most beautiful hostels I’ve ever stayed at. Also, the employees were fantastic!
- Terrabambu Lodge: This lodge is located close enough to the center but also far away enough to feel alone. It’s a great mid-range priced accommodation with a pool!
- Coffee Lodge Cristal Glamping & Spa: If you want to relax in Mindo, this is the place! Enjoy a private terrace with your own balcony and even a hot tub!
My Experience on the Mindo Waterfall Hike
When planning our trip to Mindo, we knew we would always do the Mindo Waterfall hike. This activity was at the top of my list of things to do in Ecuador!
Mindo is a fantastic town that is quaint but also has some liveliness. We had the best empanadas we’ve ever had here and the largest! All for $1.50.
One of the employees at our hostel told me about the Teleferico option when visiting the waterfall park. I was sold. So the next day, we headed out to see seven different waterfalls!
The walk wasn’t far to the Teleferico and was actually quite nice. We got to see a different part of Mindo that many others don’t normally see.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when taking the Teleferico to the waterfall park but it exceeded my expectations! The cable car goes nice and slow over the forest.
The ride takes around five or ten minutes and is well worth the price! After arriving here, it was easy to walk down to the Tarabita and go on the Mindo Waterfall hike.
When we arrived at the park, we were greeted by a worker who then reviewed the map. Everything was pretty straightforward.
If you’re hungry, there is a restaurant right after getting off the Tarabita. We didn’t take a look but I’m sure there’s some decent food to buy.
The main route that people go on is Ruta 3 for obvious reasons. You can start on Ruta 1 as you head to the five waterfall trail.
This first waterfall was packed but it’s a great place to swim! The water goes rather deep but it isn’t too far out. You can see the bridge above it that leads to the second waterfall.
The second waterfall isn’t much, either. We spent the least time at these two waterfalls because of the people and size.
The last three waterfalls took a little more time to reach but we’re cool in their own ways. On the third one, you could swim back and feel alone in the jungle—a surreal feeling.
The Mindo Waterfall hike is mostly well-maintained, which is great considering how many visitors they receive yearly.
It would be nice if these waterfalls were harder hikes and resulted in fewer people. But sometimes you can’t have the best of both worlds!
FAQs about the Mindo Waterfall Hike
Where Can I Swim in Mindo?
There are many spots to swim at during the Mindo Waterfall hike. Cascada Odinas and Cascada Colibries are the best spots to swim in Mindo.
How High is Mindo?
Mindo sits at an elevation of 1,300 meters or 4,000 feet. This is lower than most places you’ll visit in Ecuador, like Quito.
Where is Mindo Cloud Forest?
Mindo Cloud Forest is located two hours Northwest of Quito. The drive is popular, and getting a bus here year-round is easy.
Is Mindo Worth a Visit?
Absolutely Mindo is worth a visit! There are many things to do in Mindo, such as go birdwatching, night walks, chocolate tours, and hiking!
Is Mindo Ecuador Safe?
Mindo, Ecuador is a safe place to visit with low crime. I felt very safe when walking around here. However, there are many adventurous activities and wildlife that can be dangerous if the right steps aren’t taken.
Final Thoughts on the Mindo Waterfall Hike
Mindo is a magical place and I made it a point of emphasis when I visited this country my second time. It’s truly a unique attraction in an already diverse country. By far, my favorite activity here was the Mindo Waterfall hike. I loved how you could easily combine this hike with another fantastic attraction in the Teleferico and Tarabita cable cars. I highly suggest doing this activity when visiting Mindo.
Thank you for reading my guide on the Mindo Waterfall hike! I hope this article helps you plan your trip to this amazing location.