Equally surprising was that the timetable of direct buses to Mindo is sparse. During the week there are five departures, and on the weekend seven. After heading to Otavalo the weekend before where buses go every fifteen minutes it was a shock – particularly because I had only started researching a few hours before we had to leave. Just flying by the seat of my pants (riding the bus by the seat of my pants?)
There is only one bus company that goes directly to Mindo, and a few others that pass by on the highway where you can jump off and catch a taxi the rest of the way. In this article I’ll deal with the first option, but if you want more details on alternate routes there’s a detailed explanation on WikiTravel.
Getting to the bus station
The direct bus from Mindo to Quito goes from Terminal de la Ofelia in the north of the city. Keep in mind that this bus station is a fair way out of the centre so to allow at least half an hour to get there by Uber or taxi. An Uber is only around $5-6 USD from the city centre.
You can choose to take a public bus there for just $0.25 USD per person, but we found Uber to be much more simple for the cost.
We recommend arriving at least half an hour early, because tickets do sell out.
Buying your bus tickets
Once you arrive at Terminal de la Ofelia you need to find the correct terminal. There are two: one for local buses, and one for regional. Our Uber dropped us at the regional terminal, but we were quickly directed to the other one which is just around the corner.
The regional terminal is pretty basic. There were two small shops selling some food and drinks, and a few different bus companies. You need to find the sign that says Flor de Valle – this is the only bus company that goes directly to Mindo.
Cost for a bus ticket from Quito to Mindo:
A ticket should run you $3.10 per per person.
Timetable for buses from Quito to Mindo:
Monday to Friday
08:00 | 09:00 | 11:00 | 13:00 | 16:00
Saturdays and Sunday
07:40 | 08:20 | 09:20 | 11:00 | 13:00 | 14:00 | 16:00
Tips for the bus ride from Quito to Mindo
Avoiding motion sickness
Mindo is up in the mountains so the road is full of twists and turns. If you’re even a little bit prone to motion sickness, we highly recommend grabbing some nausea tablets from the local pharmacy.
When purchasing your tickets, arrive early and request seats in the front of the bus. Our Spanish isn’t perfect (so excuse the grammar!), but “sillas en la enfrente a la bus” has always made enough sense to the seller.
Keep your belongings close
You’ll see this repeated all over blogs about travelling in Ecuador and South America: bus thefts are common. We’ve been lucky enough to not be affected by it so far, but multiple bus drivers have reaffirmed the sentiment.
Buses stop and pick up passengers along the road constantly, and tourists are prime targets.
Keeping belongings safe on buses from Quito to Mindo:
- Keep your phone and wallet close in a anti-theft waist pack or bum-bag and try keep it under your shirt.
- Don’t stow your baggage above or under your chair – keep it on your lap and hook your arms through any straps.
- Consider an anti-theft backpack – we love our Bobby Original from XE Designs because it’s virtually impossible for anyone with sticky fingers to sneak in.
- Keep valuables with you on the bus, not in your luggage underneath.
- Use a bag lock, even if you’re keeping it right in front of you.
- Take turns napping if travelling in a couple.
- During breaks, take your belongings with you – don’t leave anything valuable on your seat.
- If travelling with others, send one person out to watch the luggage underneath at the end of the trip. E.g. one person stays inside to gather belongings, the other is straight out to the luggage.
- Always keep your guard up, even if taking multiple trips with no incidents.
You shouldn’t let this scare you from taking public buses in South America though. We’ve taken tens of trips with no incidents! Just keep your guard up and remain on alert and you’ll be fine with more dollars in your pockets.
Arriving via bus from Quito to Mindo
You’ve made it through the bus ride with your belongings intact – hurrah! What now? This part is actually really easy. As the bus travels the main roads in Mindo, you can ask it to stop anywhere along the route.
Watch Google Maps on your phone and when you’re close enough to your hostel just ask the bus to stop – no worries. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay we were super-impressed by the vibe at Cinnamon House. It was crazy cheap, had gorgeous rooms, and a real treehouse vibe! (This is in no way an affiliate link, we just loved staying there!)
Returning via bus from Mindo to Quito
When you’ve watched the birds, explored the waterfalls, and tubed down the rivers it’s time to leave stunning Mindo behind. Make sure you book your bus early because they do sell out.
You can grab your tickets from the Flor de Valle office on Mindo’s main road, the bus leaves from across the road.
Timetable for buses from Mindo to Quito:
Monday to Friday
06:30 | 11:00 | 13:45 | 15:30 | 17:00
Saturdays and Sunday
06:30 | 11:00 | 13:00 | 14:00 | 15:00 | 16:00 | 17:00
Once you’re nestled safely back in Quito you can reminisce on all the amazing times in Mindo! Did you have a great time? Has anything changed since this guide was written? Share it in the comments!