Because I was travelling with a small and a big backpack, and had a broken wrist, I didn’t want to take the metrobus to Ofelia (the terminal from where the buses to Mindo are departing), but took a taxi. The taxi from Centro Histórico to Ofelia was $6.30 (July 2012).
I arrived at Ofelia at 11.30 and went over to the counter to buy a ticket for the next bus to Mindo. There was no bus until 16.00. I should have had a look in the guidebook because there it says there are morning buses and then one later in the afternoon. Somehow I had thought there was going to be buses throughout the day. At the ticket counter I met five people from Quito who had thought the same as me. So, instead we shared a taxi to a place where we waited for a bus coming from Terminal Carcelen. This bus didn’t go to Mindo, but passed LaY on the main road above Mindo. For the bus to La Y I paid $2.50.
The bus attendant told us that it wasn’t far to Mindo from La Y, but someone else told us it takes around 1.5h to walk there. Well, we started to walk but very soon a taxi stopped and we could all go with it. For the taxi we paid $3. I arrived at the hotel in Mindo at 14.00, so taking the bus to LaY had been a better option than to wait for the afternoon bus.
There is a tarabita, a hand-powered cable car, which takes you over a river basin when you are going to visit the waterfalls. It is 530m across from one side to the other and when you sit there in the small steel basket you can look down on the lush vegetation below. It takes you over the basin at an altitude of 150 metres above the ground.
The tarabita is operating between 8.30 – 16.00 on Tuesdays – Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.
The price was $5 (July 2012), but that also included the visit to the waterfalls and a brochure.
If you are afraid of heights there should be a way to cross the river basin by foot too, but I don’t know where. The walk from Mindo to the tarabita is 4km (it is possible to take a taxi, but I didn’t) and if you plan to visit all the waterfalls as I did, there will also be a lot of walking on the other side, so the tarabita was a good option for me.
From Mindo up to La Y (the junction at the highway to Quito) a taxi/camioneta cost $3 (July 2012). I heard there was a bus leaving the square in Mindo for Santo Domingo at 11am, so I took that bus up to La Y. The ticket was $0.50. At La Y, I and five other people waited at the highway for a passing bus. After 10-15 minutes a bus heading for Quito arrived and we went aboard. The bus was full so we had to stand up. I was only going to La Armenia (the ticket was $1) where I was changing buses again. In La Armenia I only had to wait two minutes for a bus. When I told the bus attendant that I was going to Tulipe and that I didn’t know where it was he told me to sit in the front seat, next to the driver., from where it was a very good view of the passing landscape. The bus from La Armenia to Tulipe was $0.50 (July 2012).
There is a bus from Quito. Since Mindo is at a sideroad and is a deadend, you have to take the bus to Mindo in order to get here, other busses will drop you of at the intersection and it is a long long walk to Mindo from here.
The busride from Quito takes around 2,5-3 hours, and goes through wonderful montains. The ride ends at the mainsquare/park of Mindo.
The bus DOESN`T leave from the main bus terminal of Qito. It leaves from a small terminal at Manuel Larrea and Asunción in the new part of Quito. The name of the company is Flor del Valle. Buy tickets before boarding the bus, if you can, buy them a day in advance to make sure you get a seat. The ticket costs around 2 dollars.
Mo - Fr: 08.00 and 15.45
Sa - Su: 07:00; 08.00; 09.00; 15.45