fbpx

Self-Guided Chocolate & Cloudforest Tour

1 DAY
FROM $100

View Prices

60% PAVED

<10% unpaved

Alternate 100% paved route available upon request

AVAILABILITY

ALL YEAR

Self-Guided Tour Overview

If you are looking for a fantastic one-day ride that will astound you and leave you with a genuine appreciation and respect for the incredible biodiversity and richness of culture that surrounds Quito, this tour is for you!  

The tour heads out of Quito and immediately into the lush, green Nono Biological Reserve, known as one of the world's most biodiverse forests.  The unpaved route to Mindo is magical, with opportunities for swimming in waterfalls, birdwatching, and picnics.  Mindo offers many exciting and educational activities such as coffee, chocolate and butterfly tours and outdoor activities such as rafting and zip lines.  The return to Quito is on an exciting paved road packed full of twisties as well as stops to visit the Pululahua Crater and the Inti-ñan Museum, right on the Equator.  The tour can be done in one day (starting at 10:00 am) or with an overnight (starting anytime 11:00 am - 1:00 pm).

At a glance

  • Time Needed:  1 day (approximately 6 hours) 24 hour rental included
  • Total Distance: 114 miles / 183 kilometers
  • Approximate Offroad Distance: 30 miles / 50 kilometers
  • Elevation gain and loss : +/-22,355 feet | +/- 6814 meters

Route Map

Elevation Profile

Highlights

Itinerary

You will head out of Quito, rising in elevation as you climb the Pichincha Volcano's foothold, getting spectacular views of the city below.  Once over the pass, your surroundings will go from "urban" to "country" instantly.  Green pastures now surround you, and the sounds of the city are replaced with the sounds of rolling brooks and streams and chirping birds.  You will descend into the small village of Nono.- a quaint, friendly little place that feels a world away from Quito. There are a few good restaurants in the center of the small town.                  

After a stop in Nono, you’ll be on the "Route of the Hummingbird." 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.

While the vast majority of old dirt roads in Ecuador are succumbing to the pavement, the narrow Nono-to-Tandayapa stretch keeps modern pretensions behind, remaining - as much as possible - as it was when Pedro Vicente Maldonado first cleared its way towards the sea over 250 years ago. With its ironic feeling of remoteness just minutes outside the city, it is one of Quito's most notable attractions.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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-renowned Tandayapa Bird Lodge.  You can stop here for lunch in their restaurant or sneak a peek at their fantastic 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 stays with you long after this ride is over. 

If you didn't get a bite to eat at the Tandayapa, you could 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 excellent restaurants, bars, and activities such as zip wire canopy tours and innertube ride down the white water river. 

Once in Mindo, you will head to Yumbos Chocolate 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 charge for your tickets, which are not included with the Ecuador Freedom Chocolate & Cloudforest tour. If you want to learn more about coffee growing, harvesting, processing, roasting, and proper coffee preparation, you can visit the Mindo Coffee Tour.  Also, the Butterfly Garden is a fantastic place with hundreds of butterflies in various stages of life.  You'll see jewel-like chrysalis, caterpillars, and beautiful colorful butterflies.

 After visiting the sites in Mindo, you will head 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 to 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 exciting 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!

The tour can be done in one round-trip if you pick up and return the bike around 10:00 am, or if you want to stay overnight in Mindo (see the extension below for an exclusive hotel offer), then it is best to pick up the bike around 1:00 - 2:00 pm. 

Photo Gallery

What to Expect

This self-guided adventure will start in our offices located in the fashionable Carolina neighborhood of Quito.  Prior to your departure, we will give you a detailed and thoughtful presentation on Ecuadorian rules of the road, customs, and courtesies. We will show you how to operate your pre-programmed GPS navigation unit and given a customized map with points of interest, descriptions of local highlights, and "hidden gems" that aren't common knowledge.  You can use this information to tailor your day - including as much or as little as you like. The route will be reviewed with you in detail to provide you with additional useful information about the timing, suggestions for lunch stops, and where to get gas along the way.  

On your departure, you will be provided the adventure-ready motorcycle (or 4x4) of your choice, which is fitted with a waterproof luggage system, a first aid kit, a tankbag if you want one, spare innertubes (or tire repair kit), and a set of tools. You will also have a prepaid cell phone to call us for support at any time during your trip.  We will carefully review the bike using our multi-point checklist to ensure that everything is in perfect working order before your departure and that you know what to do in case of an emergency or breakdown.

The route you will follow is based on several years' of experience and riding these routes many times. There are several stops available, which are marked on the GPS unit and the route sheet.  

You will have many opportunities for amazing photos. Locals are friendly and the areas visited are very safe with very low crime rates. 

During your ride, Ecuador Freedom staff will monitor your progress using an onboard GPS satellite tracking system and can assist you by telephone if you need to change your route, need roadside assistance, or help in any way.

Upon returning, you will have access to our honor bar, jacuzzi, hot shower, and staff that can assist you with your next destination.

Weather and Temperatures

Weather and temperature ranges in Ecuador are generally the same year-round. You can expect the chance of passing showers in the highlands but rarely a full day of rain.  Chances for a full day of rain are more likely on the western slopes of the Andes in March, April, and early May.  This ride will be in elevations between 1200 feet in the Amazon basin  (where temperatures can be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit) to 14,500 feet (where temperatures can be in the 30's Fahrenheit). Dressing in layers is recommended.  Please see this article for more information about the weather in Ecuador. 

Preparation
 You should know how to make general motorcycle repairs and maintenance and to be able to change an innertube (click for a video tutorial).  Before you travel, we recommend that you familiarize yourself in advance with these recommended guidebooks and maps.

Pricing

Yamaha XT250
                      
$110
BMW G310GS
$130
BMW G310GS (LOWERED)
$130
SWM Gran Milano 440
$100
Suzuki DR650
$150
Suzuki DR650 (LOWERED)
$150
SWM RS 650R
$150
Suzuki V-Strom DL650XT
$180
Suzuki V-Strom DL650XT (LOWERED)
$180
BMW G 650 GS
$180
Yamaha Ténéré XT660
$190
Husqvarna 701 Enduro
$200
BMW F700 GS
$190
BMW F750 GS
$200
Triumph Tiger 800XCx
$210
BMW F800GS
$210
BMW F850GS
$220
Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
$200
Honda Africa Twin CRF1000
$210
Honda Africa Twin CRF1000 DCT
$210

Tour Includes

  • Unlimited Mileage Motorcycle Rental (24 hours) 
  • Saddlebags or hard luggage system
  • Pre-programmed Garmin zümo GPS
  • Pre-ride briefing
  • Tank bag
  • Luggage Storage and locker usage
  • VIP access to the Freedom After-Ride Lounge™ with hot shower, jacuzzi, and wet bar.
  • Pre-paid cell phone and 24-hour support

Not included

  • Refundable security deposit to cover any damage to the rental motorcycle
  • Ecuador IVA (sales) tax ONLY if you are Ecuadorian
  • NO TAX FOR TOURISTS TO ECUADOR!
  • Hotel accomodations before and after the tour in Quito

Before booking a self-guided tour with us, please carefully read our Self-Guided Motorcycle Tour Terms and Conditions

Our reservation system is automated and accessible through the "Book Now" or "Reserve Online" buttons. The system will take you through a few easy steps to book your tour and any desired extensions.  The system is secure and uses a third party, Ecuadorian payment system called Kushki, that meets all international regulations and security standards. Payment may be made using any major credit card.  Please note that we must collect a government-issued ID number from you when booking due to Ecuadorian banking regulations.  You may use your passport, driver's license, or any other government identification number.

Alternatively, you may request payment through PayPal in the system (click the PayPal logo on checkout). If you prefer to send a wire transfer, please let us know (using the "Ask a Question" button or "Contact" menu item, and we will provide our banking details.

Deposits are refundable minus 10% of the total rental or tour price only if canceled at least 90 days prior to departure or pick-up date. Cancellations are very costly to us as they impede our planning and ability to sell rentals and tours to other customers. Therefore, cancellations for any reason made less than 90 days before the pickup or departure date are not refundable nor may they be applied to a future rental or tour.

PLEASE NOTE DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC:  All reservations through 2021 are completely flexible.  If you have to change the dates for your trip for a Covid-19 related reason, you may do so for any date through December 31, 2021 at no additional charge. Please notify us as soon as possible for any change in your plans.  

To protect yourself from this loss of your deposit, it is up to you to secure travel insurance that covers cancellations due to health problems, civil unrest, acts of God, family tragedies or problems with flight departures, etc.  

We recommend Ripcord Travel Insurance.  They provide very extensive travel insurance plus have outstanding repatriation and assistance in an emergency.  To purchase, just go to this page

The balance (second 50%) of your rental or tour is due when you pick up the bike in our office in Quito.   The second 50% can be paid in cash, (United States Dollars) or with PayPal or with a credit card.  We accept Mastercard, Visa, and American Express.  A 100% refundable security deposit using a credit card for the rental motorcycle or 4x4 is also required and is separate from the payment for the tour.  Security deposits are $500 - $2000, depending on the vehicle selected.