Chocolate and Cloudforest
A Self-Guided GPS Tour (1 day)
Distance: 117 miles / 188 kilometers (55% paved / 45% unpaved country road)
Time Needed: 6 hours riding time 1.5 hours for the coffee and chocolate tour in Mindo - best done over 24 hours with an overnight in Mindo (accomodations are not included)
Climates: Higlands Paramo, Cloudforest, Temperate Forest, Tropical Rainforest, Dry Forest
Recommended Gear: rain gear, gloves, camera and binoculars
If you are looking for an absolutely amazing one-day ride that will astound you and leave you with a true appreciation and respect for the incredible bio-diversity and richness of culture that surrounds Quito, this tour is for you!
You will head out of Quito, rising in elevation as you climb the foothold of the Pichincha volcano, getting absolutely spectacular views of the city below. Soon you’ll be on the "Route of the Hummingbird" or "Ecoruta." This route is famous for its incredible natural beauty. It has won several awards from the Audubon Society for the large number of bird species that can be seen. Although the area is relatively small in size it is one of the most bio-diverse on the planet, counting thousands of species of butterflies, plus hundreds of different reptilian, amphibian and bird species - including several types of toucans and hummingbirds.
Once over the pass, your surrondings will go from urban to country in an instant. You are now surrounded by green pastures and the sounds of the city are replaced with the sounds of rolling brooks and streams and chirping birds. You will descend into the smal village of Nono.- a quaint, friendly little place that feels a world away from Quito.
Once outside of Nono, you may want to stop for a swim in the beautiful Guagrapamba Waterfall. which is just along the route and can be reached after a short hike.
Your ride will continue along these country roads with virtually no traffic bring you high into the elevations and bring you to the "Virgen de Camino Mirador" overlook. Stop here and get some great views of the valleys below. Then you will descend along a rolling river of cold, clear water and into the rainforests for a completely new biological habitat. You may catch a glimpse of some wild toucans or brightly colored frogs.
You will pass by the world famous Tandayapa Bird Lodge. You can stop here for lunch in their restaurant or just sneak a peak at their amazing balcony and be surrounded by hundreds of hummingbirds in a show that will fascinate you.
Back on the road, the aromas and sounds of the rainforest you will experience will be something that stay with you long after this ride is over. (We do recommend that you bring rain gear as this is called the rainforest for a reason - but this light, warm rain will be with you for usually only about 5 miles)...
If you didn't get a bite to eat at the Tandayapa, you can also stop for lunch in the Bellavista Cloudforest Bird Lodge. They offer incredible over-the- canopy where you can get a great meal while watching hundreds of bird species.
Then you will head from the cloudforests into the warm microclimate of the town of Mindo. This funky, eclectic town offers great restaurants, bars and activities such as zip wire canopy tours and innertube rides down white water river.
Once in Mindo, you will head to the El Quetzal for a tour that will educate and entertain you. You can taste some freshly roasted local Ecuadorian coffee, some of the best in Ecuador. You will learn about organic cocoa farming and processing. You will learn how cacao is turned into chocolate from the moment it is picked from the tree to the completed chocolate bars. The Chocolate tour starts every day at 4 PM and there is a $5.00 charge for your tickets which are not included with the Freedom Bike tour. If you want to learn more about coffee growing, harvesting, processing, roasting and proper preparation of coffee please ask your tour guide for more information.
Once you have had your fill of chocolate and coffee, we suggest you settle in for the night at either the Quetzal or the Hostel Caskaffesu. We can make the reservations for you in advance, just please let us know.
Once you continue, you will head out of Mindo and back onto the asphalt road, passing through the cloudforest town of Nanegalito. Continue on this road and you can stop to see the huge Volcanic crater, the Pululahua Volcanic Crater.
On the way back into Quito, be sure to stop at the Museo Intinan to learn about the astronomical observatories established at the Equator by ancient indigenous cultures. You can also perform some fun and interesting experiments to show you the strange gravitational effects that can only be observed on the Equatorial line.
Then, head back into Quito - and you will have finished the tour. We hope you will share your photos and experiences with your friends!
Recommended Bikes and Pricing (24 hour rental with unlimited mileage +