In the past, a trip out to Nono could take a couple of hours along a dusty road of broken cobblestone. Today, it is smooth sailing on a two-lane paved road that meanders through neighborhoods tucked into the high Pichincha slope of northwest Quito.
Where is Nono, Ecuador?
Nono is a mere 18 kilometers outside of Quito. The route passes other locations you might like to visit, like the Eco-Lodge San Jorge de Quito and the beautiful cloud forest, hummingbird reserve at Yanacocha.
Nono is a popular weekend destination for Quiteños escaping the big city. Most are day-trippers looking for adventures like a hike to a gushing waterfall or a bike ride on a back road. Many simply want to enjoy a traditional meal at one of about five restaurants found in this tiny farm town. We’ve visited Nono several times and always returned with a desire to see more.
While the route is well-signed, it can be hard to find the exact starting point in the neighborhood of Cotocollao. We highly recommend using an app like WAZE to help you find the way! As you wind up the steep roads, you will pass many cinder block buildings that appear unfinished, a staple of the Quito neighborhoods always waiting to grow a little higher. When you reach the kilns where they make bricks, you are guaranteed to be on the right path!
Why Visit Nono?
There are several reasons you might find yourselves in Nono.
You may be looking for a little of Old Ecuador. Originated in 1720, San Miguel de Nono was founded by Spanish colonists looking for excellent opportunities to farm. Today, it remains one of the most rural locations in the Metropolitan District of Quito. Estancias, a type of Spanish-colonial property that includes original buildings and acres of pasture and farmland, dot the countryside.
In the quiet town, brightly painted homes wear timeworn red-tiled roofs that lend a connection to the strong Spanish roots of the community. The town is so small that even the main street has a backdrop of the Andean cloud forest. The few stands of fir trees are non-native to Ecuador and have been planted as money-crops. But they too lend an air of wildness that adds to Nono’s credibility as a birdwatching paradise.
Adventure In and Around Nono
There is so much to do around Nono but very little written about it.
You may want to go hiking. While there are several trails heads in the area, the most popular is to the Cascada Guagrapamba. At the entrance, a local family charges a small fee to access a well-maintained trail to a medium-sized waterfall. Hikers love to bathe in the water that collects at the base of the falls and some even dare to walk into the pounding cascade. At the very least, it’s nice to sit on a rock and paddle your feet in the cool water.
If you are not a hiker but a biker, then may already have heard of Nono. It is a popular starting point to bike out along the Paseo del Quinde, the famous hummingbird route that connects Quito with Mindo. The well-mapped route can be found on Wikiloc. Another popular route is Nono to Alaspungo.
Birdwatchers will just want to travel the Paseo del Quinde, stopping along the way to see hummingbirds, tanagers, and other mixed-flock birds. The road makes a great connector between popular birding destinations while offering up multiple opportunities to spot more species. Local birding guides are the best people to ask about exactly where to stop on the route.
Hot Springs near Nono
After hiking and biking, you might want to relax a little. How about a visit to a local hot spring? I’m not quite sure why we don’t relax as much as we hike but we have yet to take advantage of the thermal pools in the area. If you decide to go, please let us know how they are!
Other Tourism Near Nono
Just a short drive out of town, up the route called the Paseo del Quinde, is the Mirador del Quinde. This viewing platform is a wonderful place to take a photo of Nono and the surrounding countryside.
Finally, if you have the time to drive a few more kilometers, visit the Grotto of the Virgin of Alambí. This small shrine was built in 1964 to protect a painting of the Virgin Mary. Some locals claim the painting itself appeared from nowhere but most people believe that a local artist painted the image after many others had seen the Virgin’s shadow in the small break in the rock. Either way, the painting is a beautiful example of folk art.
Restaurants in Nono
At the very least, we recommend trying some of the local food. We have eaten at three restaurants. You may have already read our review of the Casa de la Empanada which is worth a visit if only to see the memorabilia on the walls! We have also eaten at Alphasungana where they serve very traditional dishes like sopa de la gallina criolla (free-range chicken soup) and fritada (crispy, fried pieces of pork). Last but not least, if you want to try locally raised beef, there is El Bife which does a fair job of serving up a decent steak.
Information For Your Trip
Nono is a popular weekend destination and not just for those traveling by car. Be on the lookout for cyclists. Travel by bus is easiest mid-week but many destinations are closed Monday-Friday.
- Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Nono, Quito, Ecuador
- Direction by Public Transportation Go to the La Ofelia bus station in Quito and look for companies heading to Nono.
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