Explore the Mindo cloud forest
As the peaks of the high Andes fall away and the desolate highlands give way to lush lowland plains, a profusion of subtropical vegetation announces your descent towards the boundless rainforest at the heart of South America. This is the cloud-forest, straddling the divide between Andes and Amazon.
Mindo is a great choice for anyone wanting a quick and accessible taste of the jungle without going as far as the Amazon itself. Though just 100km from the capital, it's a world apart – gone are all signs of urban activity, replaced by hillsides enveloped in foliage and a soundtrack of rippling streams and bird calls. The greenery is punctuated by the vibrant colours of orchids, bromeliads and heliconias, making this a particularly scenic setting for nature walks. It's one of Ecuador's most biodiverse areas with over 350 species of birds alone, and is particularly known for its abundant hummingbirds.