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Cloud Forest Adventure (for Jen Ball & Family)

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Cloud Forest Adventure (for Jen Ball & Family)

per person

7 Days of Relaxation and Fun in one of the most Biodvierse Places on Earth – the gorgeous Mindo Valley located in the Ecuadorean Andes!

This wonderful ALL-INCLUSIVE week starts off with a tour of Quito before moving onto Mindo for a week that will offer one-of-a-kind DEEP NATURE & CULTURE EXPERIENCES!
This page has been created for the Ball family to explore options, and preferences, as we look to put together the best possible experience for all six of you, one leg at a time.

A Little About the Mindo Area:

The Mindo region is one of the birding capitals of the world, with waterfalls in every direction and such tremendous biodiversity that it is going to blow your mind. Located in a valley of the Ecuadorian Andes alongside a massive intact primary rainforest, the natural beauty here is astounding, and the thriving yet off-the-beaten-track ecotourism scene offers something for everyone. The village is also known for its chocolate (recently named the “Route of Chocolate”), orchids, reptiles, butterflies, and adrenaline sports.

Your time in Mindo will be about relaxation, peace, beauty, good food, and deep nature experiences. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy, and let me and my team know what, if anything, you would like to add onto the included experiences – with lots of options to explore below.

My team in Mindo will take care of 100% of your logistical needs, including arranging transportation for all of the included activities below, offering simple yet comfortable lodgings, and having all of your meals prepared on site by your own private chef.

~ Tremendous variety of things to see & do 

~ Ideal climate (not too hot, not too cool – all year)

~ Safe

~ Good wifi (in work areas & your rooms)

Whatever you’re looking for, we can likely arrange, find, or otherwise figure out. This village is where EarthTreks began, and my friends, family and ecotourism colleagues of over 25 years here are part of what will make this experience so special for you. 

For more details on Mindo, please click on the ABOUT MINDO tab above. For visuals of some of this package’s highlights, please click on the GALLERY tab above.


Cost per person:  Adults = $2,299 CAD each; Children under 12 = $1,199 CAD each*

*Includes all taxes, all accommodations (6 nights in Mindo and 1 night in Quito at a boutique hotel in the historic centre), three meals a day while in Mindo, all privately catered to your group’s preferences and dietary requirements, all included activities (detailed below), all transportation, including private transfers to and from your hotel in Quito, validated carbon offsets of your return international flight. Your private chef will also act as your English-speaking retreat leader – present enough just to ensure everything goes smoothly and act as a resource, as needed. The price does not include your return airfare or expenditures of a personal nature.

We have a long list of optional trip extensions and other add-ons, from a trip to the Galapagos Islands to a stay in the Amazon Basin, and lots of other options. Please get in touch any time to discuss all of your options, their cost and other recommendations for making the most of your time in Ecuador.

Some local activities that our clients always enjoy are included in the retreat price (see below). Others – such as zip lining 400 meters high above the forest canopy – have been left to individual choice and are also listed below. We can make any of it happen – easily, sustainably, and affordably.


Activities Included for the Whole Family:

~ Private Guided Driving Tour of Historic Quito: Your billingual guide who will be driving you in a comfortable van from Quito to Mindo, will start the day giving you a driving tour of some of the city’s highlights, including a trip up the Panecillo (the winged Virgin Mary that sits atop  the breadloaf/Panecillo overlooking the historic centre), and some of the city’s beautiful historic squares.

~ Your privately guided transfer through the Andes to Mindo (a two-hour trip in total) will make three wonderful stops along the way. First to the Equator line where you will stop at the open air museum called Intiñan to do some fun experiments that only work directly on the line that divides the Earth. Then it’s onto the only inhabited volcanic crater with some optional souvenir shopping. Next you will stop at a nature reserve where you will have the pleasure of experiencing what is maybe one of the best feelings ever: different species of tropical hummingbirds clasped around your fingers as they drink from a feeder right out of your hand. 

Then, once in Mindo, these activities will all be included, based on a plan we build together:

~ Butterfly Tour:  A driver will take you to visit the Mariposario butterfly sanctuary (about ten minutes out of town). Butterflies naturally thrive in the Mindo Valley – and you will get to see them at every stage of life. The only thing better than watching them dry off their new wings is having them land all over you. The gardens behind offer some great bird viewing too.

~ Empenada-making Lesson: You will be taught how to make the exquisitely yummy traditional ‘wind empenadas” by Ana Gabriela, starting with the dough and finishing with a delicious sampling of the hot cheesey goodness.

~ Coffee Tour: Learn everything you wanted to know about coffee on a short tour at a local property.

~ Swimming: I am exploring all options for you – there are a few different pools in town that offer access, and I will include transportation and access to swimming on two different days (noting this may be restricted to non-weekend days).

~ Orchid Tour:  Tour an orchid garden to see some of the over 4,200 species found in Ecuador – a magnifying glass is included for the really tiny ones. Transportation will take you and wait for you there.

~ Hummingbirds: You will be taken to a private nature reserve to experience the beauty of hummingbirds flying all around you – over the 32 different species documented by the resident Ornithologist, Dr. Heike Brieschke, and her partner, Pedro Peñafiel – the person who spearheaded the protection of the entire Mindo-Nambillo Protected Forest, covering most of the land between Mindo and Quito.

~ Double Chocolate Tour: The Quetzal Chocolate Factory is our only neighbour, beyond my sister-in-law’s family. You will enjoy learning how they make their amazing quality chocolate from bean to bar on a gentle walk through the property. Then relax at their lovely restaurant for a drink or a bite to eat before a second chocolate tour when you learn how to make chocolate as the Mayans first discovered it – roasting the beans over an open fire, peeling and grinding into a paste. Both tours include some yummy sampling.

~ Cooking lesson: You will learn how to prepare a traditional Ecuadorian meal, including buying the fresh ingredients and preparing them on site – and of course enjoying your hard work at the end!

All of the activities above include private transportation to and from your accommodations, to make everything easily accessible for all.


Other Optional Activities in the Mindo Area:

~ Plant a tree as part of EarthTreks’ Reforestation Project and environmental legacy (13,300 trees and counting).

~ Some optional classes include: a private one-hour Spanish lesson (or more), a woodworking workshop, or a salsa dancing lesson.

~ Some self care with a private massage on site – or a manicure/pedicure or facial.

~ Try something more adrenaline-filled activities, such as repelling through waterfalls, white water tubing, zip lining, bungee jumping, or mountain biking.

~ Choose from various guided nature expeditions to explore the area’s extreme biodiversity – birding & herping (reptiles & amphibians) both being reasons many visit the Mindo area. These tend to include a fair bit of walking, beyond the activities already included above.

~ Enjoy some great souvenir shopping, with both local artisans and Indigenous handicrafts offered in small shops along the main street of the village.

~ A Visit to the Nambillo Waterfalls (quite strenuous, just for family of four):  Take a chairlift ride sailing above the forest canopy to view birds – that will take you to a cable car to traverse across a deep ravine and set you down at the top of hiking trails leading to different waterfalls. We will arrange for a picnic lunch this day, while your parents enjoy a private lunch by the river, and can relax by the hummingbird feeders or in a hammock to read.


Trip Extensions After Your Time in Mindo:

~ Capital city Quito was the very first city in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason – and you will be staying in the heart of the historic centre where the best sites can be found. For stays in Quito before and after your stay in Mindo, we would be happy to talk through the many options of art galleries, museums, historic squares and more – to help you make the most of your time there. There is also a great hot-on-hop-off bus to take you around to some of the city’s highlights and offering close views of some of the colonial architecture.

~ Take a day trip from either Quito or Mindo to the best hot springs in South America, Papallacta – high up in the Andes where the condors soar at 3,300 meters – there is also a hotel to stay, if you are real spa lovers.

~ Take a trip to the amazing town of Otavalo to see the best Indigenous markets of South America, spectacular landscapes and beautiful culture. This area offers lots to see, such as Peguche Waterfalls, a visit to the leather markets of Cotacachi, taking in the Saturday morning animal market, and more.

~ There are different options for visiting the Amazon basin – the distant ones can be quite pricey, but traveling to the area around Tena / Misahualli takes only four hours by car and offers a tremendously rich experience, both in terms of nature and culture. A stay of 2 to 3 nights in a lodge on the way to Baños (kind of a loop back to Quito) would provide a wonderful experience that includes jungle hikes and lots of wildlife viewing.

~ Baños is a fun touristy little town that offers adrenaline sports and beautiful waterfalls – a great place to stop for a few nights.

~ The Quilotoa Crater is a little more off-the-beaten-path, offering an intimate experience in a small Indigeous community that sits on the edge of glowing green crater lake that offers great hiking options, mule riding, kayaking, and tremendously beautiful sunrises.

~ Cuenca is a little more distant, but if you want to explore Ecuador’s third largest city where many Canadians have chosen to retire, this is another gorgeous UNESCO city with lots to see and do. Flights to/from would help you avoid the 6-hour car or bus trip, although the trip along the “Volcano Alley” can be quite beautiful on a clear day.

~ The Pacific coast is also an option – and I would be happy to suggest a few places to visit, noting some of the coast should be avoided, such as the country’s largest city, Guayaquil – beyond arriving at the airport and getting in a car to leave the city. It is just not safe. If interested in a visit to the coast, let me help guide your decision-making.

~ The Galápagos Islands is EarthTreks specialty – we can create a trip for you by yacht or island-hopping. Just let me know if there is any interest in exploring either of those options.

~ Other thoughts and ideas? When it’s convenient for you, Let’s Talk! 

  • Included
    Accommodations
    Activities (detailed in itinerary)
    Airport Transfer (Arrival)
    Airport Transfer (Departure)
    All Taxes
    All Transportation (including internal flights, when applicable)
    Meals (detailed in itinerary)
  • Not Included
    Drinks, Alcoholic Beverages
    English-speaking Tour Leader
    Personal Expenditures
    Return International Airfare

Experience the Cloud Forest

This region is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, with new species of flora and fauna still being discovered here all the time. Located in a deep valley just two hours drive from capital city, Quito, Mindo is set at just the right altitude (1,250 meters) to offer the ideal climate year-round. If you love nature, you will love this experience! Because Mindo’s livelihood is centered on tourism, there exists an abundance of excellent restaurants, tourist activities, and souvenir shops, as well as services you wouldn't normally find in a small rural village, such as ATMs, pharmacies, health and spa services, and specialized guiding services. Mindo is located in a valley of the cloud forest, and as such, is green and lush, offering the ideal climate for orchids and ferns to thrive. There exists a tremendous amount of fresh water in the area, from a few major rivers to endless numbers of streams and waterfalls, including the Rio Canchupi - the small but mighty river that rushes audibly by your accommodations, lulling you into a beautiful sleep at night.  Everyone who visits us says the same thing:  This is Paradise!

Climate

Mindo boasts what many describe as the ‘perfect climate’ – a subtropical climate that is warm all year, rarely climbing above the mid-20s (C) or below the mid-teens (at night). At an altitude of 1,250 meters, it is also high enough that you don't have to worry about tropical diseases spread by mosquitoes. Located right on the Equator, the sun sets and rises just after 6:00 a.m. & p.m. consistently all year. And as to be expected in a cloud forest - that many visitors refer to as 'the jungle' - rainfall is significant, with annual precipitation averaging over 2,000 mm, concentrated more during rainy season (December to May). The rain is pretty predictable though, generally not starting until mid to late afternoon, when it does rain - making it is easy to plan around. We do see lots of sun throughout any given week, and when it does rain, you will likely note that rain feels very fitting in a rainforest, with the rainy season offering lusher plant life, bigger rivers and waterfalls, and smaller crowds. 

Accommodations

house from yoga studio
Our only neighbours are the artisanal chocolate factory on one side, the river on the other, and lots of birds! Our simple yet comfortable lodgings are quite removed from Mindo’s hustle and bustle, even though it is only a short walk (just a few minutes) to the village's central park. Wildlife abounds on the property, including varieties of hummingbirds at the feeders, different species of tanagers hanging out in the fruit trees, occasional Mountain Toucans, geckos, and a resident family of guatusas (beaver-like mammals with a tiny tail). Although wildlife viewing is great from the dining area, you may spot even more along our small loop trail which also provides access to the fresh mountain river. Yoga mats are available for use in the outdoor yoga studio on site - and we work with a few wonderful local instructors who teach different styles of practice, and on occasion bring yoga teachers in from Canada to teach classes. The open-air dining space where your meals will be served daily is set beside the river, offering tremendous bird watching opportunities at a variety of feeders and natural fruit trees. We will provide a comprehensive packing list and are happy to answer questions any time about any aspect of the retreat, logistics or otherwise.

A note from EarthTreks' Founder, Alison Braun

I welcome you to stay in my home away from home.

Along with my wonderful team in Mindo, we will do our best to take care of all of our needs, from arrival to departure.

Please feel free to ask about anything we haven't covered above. The idea is to make this a wonderful adventure that feels safe, comfortable, and hassle-free right from the beginning at the planning stage. We will do our best to work around any physical or dietary needs you have, while tailoring an experience that we hope you will remember with a big smile for the rest of your life. 

It will be my genuine pleasure to personalize this experience in my village and make it the best possible week for you. 

   ~   Alison  (alison@earthtreks.ca / 1-800-610-1498)