Where We Stayed in MINDO, ECUADOR – Tips for Bird Photographers

Where We Stayed in MINDO, ECUADOR – Tips for Bird Photographers


last month we had the pleasure of
visiting mindo Ecuador for the first time to do some bird and wildlife
photography and many of you sent me emails and messages asking where did we
stay exactly so I decided to make this video talking about my two
recommendations of where to stay if you want to stay in the mindo area now we
did stay in four locations overall and we wanted to stay as close to the town
of Mindo as possible because we’ve heard so many great things about that area
that we just really wanted to do it right and stay in a few different
locations and get a feel for the place so when I’m planning a birding trip I
pretty much know that I have four options the first option is going on a
photo tour the second option is going on a guided tour which is a little bit
different because you don’t always go to natural areas sometimes it’s about some
of the history of the location the third option is going by myself and the last
option is doing a mix of both so you can do part of the trip by yourself you
can do part of the trip with a guide or on a photo tour everybody has their own
preference but for this video I’m talking about if you want it to go there
on your own because most of you that messaged me that’s what you want to do
in Ecuador and I think I have two really good recommendations that you can get a
lot out of your trip even if you’re just flying into mindo and staying in that
general area you’re gonna have an awesome time
so I’m gonna start going over the four locations we stay at and two of them I
will just briefly go over because I don’t think most of you would be
interested in these locations I know if I were to go back I likely wouldn’t go
back to these two locations not that they were bad or anything but just for
what I wanted to do when I was in Ecuador I wanted to do a lot of bird
photography I wanted to do a lot of hiking and trails and these two didn’t
really offer that so I don’t want to talk about them for too long and then
I’m gonna get into my two recommendations and both of them are
very similar in terms of what they offer you and what type of species you can see
but they’re both at very different price points so depending your budget you can
lean in favor of either of them and you’ll likely have a very good time I
also spoke to a lot of locals and a lot of people just traveling around Ecuador
and I asked them for recommendations in the area so at the end of the video
although I didn’t stay at these places a lot of people recommended them so I’ll
put the names up and I’ll put the prices per night that I’m seeing for say
January or February and you guys can get a better idea and look into them if you
want to go there yourself but those locations aren’t necessarily
around the mindo area so you are traveling a little bit further out for
the prices that I’m talking about it’s all in US Dollars and this is for end of
October beginning of November and we were right at the end of their low
season if we booked a week or two later it would have definitely gone up in price
so mess around with it if you can because the
price does fluctuate given their low and high season so look into it if you don’t
have a concrete date that you’re going you can definitely mess around with the
dates and hopefully get a cheaper price the first location that I want to talk
about is El Descanso this location was the least expensive place that we went to
while we were in Ecuador it came out to $19 per person a night and this included
your own private bedroom bathroom and breakfast in the morning and at this
location the staff was really nice the food is great the coffee was awesome but
the one negative thing and that’s one of the reasons that I’m not recommending it
is there’s no trail system so you have this beautiful gallery that a lot of
people actually go to during the day to just watch hummingbirds they have a ton
of really productive hummingbird feeders and they also have fruit feeders that
attracts toucans and a lot of the tanagers but that’s pretty much all they
have and if you were to stay here for your whole trip I think what would end
up happening is you’d photograph everything that you need to in three or
four days and then you wouldn’t have anything else to photograph and that
kind of leads into the second location which is El Eden treehouse and this
Lodge there’s actually two locations you could stay at you can stay in a cabin or
you can stay in the actual treehouse and the tree house is the reason we
actually went to this location my girlfriend and I have never slept in a
tree house overnight so it was just one of those things that we saw it online
we’re like okay we have to do this at least one night so we went there we
stayed in the lodge and we stayed in the treehouse when we stayed in the cabins
it costed us 22 dollars per person a night and that included private bedroom
bathroom and breakfast in the morning and then when we stayed in the treehouse
that costed us 39 dollars per person a night and that included all the same
stuff the positive thing about this location is that it does offer you the
option to order lunch and dinner so if you wanted to do those and not go off of
the property you’re able to actually do that because at the other location
that I just spoke of you weren’t able to buy any lunch or dinner at the location
so you’d have to go out and eat at a restaurant and you don’t really have a
kitchenette or anything to make your own food so you’re pretty much limited to
eating out and at this location that’s actually where I filmed my third Ecuador
video the wildlife photography one with the baby armadillo it was at this
location so you do have a trail system there but it’s not that big and
especially when you’re comparing it to the other two locations that I’ll talk
about. The main reason that I’m recommending this location over the last
one is because you’re actually able to go out onto a trail even if it is a
small one and get some more species so your potential to see more species is a
little bit higher and if you want to you can go out and do night hikes at night
night hikes at night when else would you do night hikes? not to be confused with
night hikes during the day but if you wanted to go out and photograph at night
you’re able to go do that on these trails so I’ll get into the two places
that we stayed at that I have as my recommendations for mindo ecuador and
the first one that i’m gonna start with is actually my top recommendation and
it’s the Yellowhouse trails and lodge and this location is right in the town
of mindo but it’s actually off of a small road so you’re a little bit more
isolated from the town and they have a huge property with a big trail system so
if you decide to stay here there’s a couple options you can choose the first
one is having your own private room so you’ll have your bed you’ll have access
to the trails and that will cost you $20 per night then if you want your own
private bed and you want access to the trails and you want breakfast that’ll
cost you $25 per night but then if you do what we did you can actually rent a
full cabin so you have this large two-story cabin to yourself and that
costs a hundred and twenty-five dollars for the week
so that’s $21 per night and that gives you a large cabin to yourself so on the
first floor you have your own kitchenette so you can make all your own
meals you have a fridge you have a dining area then when you go up the
stairs you have a beautiful look out looking over the town and some of the
forests and then you have your bedroom with your bathroom your beds and your
shower so we were two and this was more than enough room for us and it was only
$21 per night and I’m on the site and it looks like there’s also an option to
rent it for the month so you can stay here for a full month and pay $390 for
the month so that’s about $13 per night and that’s insane like you can stay in
Ecuador for a month and spend three hundred and ninety dollars on lodging
that’s insane you’d obviously have to pay for your own food and everything and
at the end I’ll kind of do a quick calculation for you of what you can pay
this is where I filmed my first two Ecuador videos so if you haven’t seen
those go and check them out so you get a better feel for the location but the
reason it’s my top recommendation is it’s one of those locations where as
long as you’re going out every day and you’re putting in the hours you’re gonna
see new species every single day if you go on eBird and you look at the hot
spots in mindo Ecuador this is actually one of the top hot spots in the area so
you know you have a high potential to see a lot of species it’s also
inexpensive so if you’re a budget traveler this is pretty much the place
to go I can’t imagine a better experience in Ecuador for such a low
price so I highly recommend it another thing that’s great about this
location is that the only allow ten people on a trail system at one time so
if you’re a guest in the rooms or the cabins you obviously have access to
those trails but they only allow a certain amount of people from the
outside to come and use them as well so for wildlife photographers and bird
photographers this is extremely beneficial because you don’t have to
worry about people constantly walking by you and scaring away some of the
wildlife so the best way to put it is that it’s just a really peaceful
experience you get to just walk around the forest focus on your photography
focus on the wildlife and apparently in the jungles around their trail systems
there are spectacled bears and I didn’t know that before going if I did I
probably would have stayed here longer I would honestly stay an extra week just
to try to get a photo or video of a spectacled bear that’s amazing so I
didn’t know that beforehand so if you’re going definitely look out for those
because that would be an incredible photo opportunity for myself this
location checked all the boxes it’s inexpensive large trail system and a lot
of species that’s all I could possibly ever ask for when traveling so that’s
why this location is my top recommendation but on the other hand I
have a second recommendation and this is pretty much just a fancier version of
the yellow house this Lodge is called El Septimo Paraiso and it’s right when you
turn off the highway to get into mindo it’s right in that location and it’s
very similar to the yellow house it has a huge trail system, actually a very
very nice trail system they also have a restaurant on site they have swimming
pools hot tubs yoga platforms a chocolate shop where they make homemade
chocolate products which is delicious it’s really good they really have
everything that you need on the property so you never have to leave and I think
if you’re doing both bird and wildlife photography and you’re mixing it with
just a regular vacation where you want to relax this is probably the place to
go because it’s a mix of both and you’re able to go on these long hikes if you
want to then come back and go swimming at the end of the day or go in the hot
tub whatever and what I’m seeing the price varies quite a bit but for kind of
just a regular room that includes breakfast it’s about 50 to 70 US dollars
per night per person which if you compare to the yellow house it is a lot
more expensive but at the same time you’re also getting a lot more out of
the location the good thing about this location is you don’t have to worry
about cooking any of your meals or going into town to get food you can literally
just go there and focus on getting as many photos and seeing as many species
as you can if we were to redo this trip knowing what we know now I think we
would have stayed at the Yellow House for two weeks probably
so that’d have been two hundred and fifty dollars per person for two weeks
and then we would have stayed at this location for a week so now I’ll compare both budgets of if you want to stay at the yellow house for two weeks
or if you wanted to stay at El Septimo for two weeks the first thing is the flight
and our flight from Montreal into the Quito Airport was four hundred and
fifteen dollars so that fluctuates depending how early you’re buying your
ticket where you’re flying from and what time of the year you’re flying for us
the flight was between four hundred and fifteen dollars to about six hundred
dollars for the time we were going at so for you it’s gonna be a little bit
different then for transportation from the airport to mindo it’s about a
two-hour drive and that costs $75 obviously if you’re more than one person
in the taxi that’s divisible between the other people that you’re with so I
think as a group collectively it’s probably best to bring around $200
because when you’re in mindo you might want to take some quick taxis which cost
a couple bucks here and there next up on the budget is lodging if you’re staying
at the Yellow House it’s a hundred and twenty-five dollars per week if you want
to stay in those private cabins so for two weeks you’re looking at two hundred
and fifty dollars per person and then what I did for El Septimo was since the
average was between fifty and seventy dollars u.s. per night per person I just
went right down the middle at sixty dollars a night
so for fourteen days thirteen nights you’re looking at seven hundred and eighty
dollars per person and then in terms of food at the yellow house since you have
your own kitchenette I would suggest bringing two hundred and fifty dollars
for two weeks that’s really fair especially if you’re hunkering down and
just buying the basics that you need to eat that’ll be more than enough money
especially if you’re splitting the groceries with somebody else and then at El Septimo you do have the restaurants so if you want to eat lunch
and supper at the restaurant you are going to be paying a little bit more so
I said to bring around three hundred and fifty dollars now breakfast is included
in your price with your stay so honestly what we were doing we were just eating a
big breakfast and then having maybe a snack or two in the middle of the
afternoon so we didn’t have to pay for lunch and then just having a nice
supper and then lastly I think it’s just always great if you’re traveling to
bring a little bit of an emergency fund so I put a hundred dollars for emergency
you probably won’t need to use it and you’ll probably have extra left over
from either your food or your transportation but again just good to
have in case you need it for two weeks that brings our total to twelve hundred
and fifteen dollars for yellow house and eighteen hundred forty five dollars for
El Septimo and honestly those prices could definitely be lower if you’re a
little bit more modest with your food and you don’t use your emergency fund
that’s why these two are my two recommendations I think no matter which
one you go with you’re gonna get a lot out of your trip especially if it’s your
first time in Ecuador it’s gonna blow your mind like there’s just so many
awesome species here I’ll put the link to these locations down
below so you guys can check it out yourself and here are the places that
were suggested to us from locals and other travelers while we’re there so
definitely look at them compare them to the ones that I suggested but honestly
it’s just such an awesome country and you’re gonna have a great time no matter
where you go so hopefully you guys can experience this and I hope this was
helpful let me know down below if you have any other questions like I said and
I’ll see in the next video happy birding

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