Located in the cloud forest of Ecuador, Mashpi Lodge is one of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and one of our favourite Stays of Distinction. So, what makes this lodge so special?
Firstly, Mashpi’s striking design puts the cloud forest firmly in focus. Its glass walls make it virtually invisible at times and allow guests to connect with the rainforest even from inside the lodge. And with plenty of outdoor spaces, including an enormous terrace, the sounds and smells of the surrounding forest are never far away. In fact, many of the areas famous bird species can be spotted from the terrace, while sipping your morning coffee!
And secondly, is Mashpi Lodge’s location in the exceptionally biodiverse Choco region. This internationally recognised region supports a staggering diversity of plant and animal life. In fact, more than 400 species of birds can be found within the Mashpi Reserve! And the variety of orchids, ferns and bromeliads is simply astounding.
Finally (and most importantly in our view), is the fabulous range of activities that help guests uncover the magic of the cloud forest. Trek along forest trails, bathe under waterfalls or peddle through the canopy on the unique Sky Bike! No matter what you choose, expert guides will enhance your understanding of the flora and fauna all around you.
*Our Travel Specialists suggests a minimum stay of two nights to explore this area.
8:30am – you will be picked-up and transferred to Mashpi Reserve. A 1,200-hectare (3,000-acre) conservation property located within the Metropolitan District of Quito, a part of the Ecuadorian Choco rain forest, known as one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots. The sudden dropped in altitude from 2,800m.a.s.l. to 1,000m.a.s.l. will allow you to discover the spectacular natural diversity of the Andean landscape as you travel through the dry valley of Pomasqui towards the cordillera’s western flank, into lush, misty cloud forest, and enter the magical world of Mashpi.
After lunch and a briefing, you will be comfortably settled in your room where you’ll be able to rest before starting with the afternoon activities. During the briefing you’ll be introduced to the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities from which you can choose during your stay, and helpful tips about what to wear and what to bring to the excursions.
After a short rest, gather at the lobby in order to head out on your first adventure exploring one of the trails of the Reserve, chosen by the guides depending on daily conditions. This walk will serve as an introduction to the ecological succession processes and the importance of forest conservation for the Chocó region. All of the trails offer great scenic beauty and each includes a unique attraction, such as a forest of “iron palm” (Iriartea deltoidea), special bird watching opportunities, or other unexpected surprises.
For all guests interested in knowing more about the cloud forest’s ecology, every evening we give a series of different lectures like the “Secret Wildlife of Mashpi, the trap camera project”, or the “Chocó, a biological hotspot”, which talk about the formation and diversity of the Chocó, and our scientific research projects. The lectures will be given by one of our naturalists or our resident biologist at 7:30 p.m.
The forest always rewards the “early birds”, as the dawn light lures a variety of fascinating species in their search for food. A good place to find birds is actually right at the hotel’s terrace, with a cup of fresh coffee, tea or hot chocolate in hand, from where you can enjoy not only the beauty of the forest, but also the many species that come to feed on insects and fruits at nearby trees. The guides will help you spot what’s around, offering a peek inside their telescope for a close-and-personal view of the incredible bird richness Mashpi possesses. This activity begins at 6:30 a.m. and lasts about an hour. Then, enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant.
Guests have the opportunity to live between 6 and 8 rain forest experiences. Your guides will recommend the best daily programme for you and your group depending on your interests, your level of physical fitness and daily weather and trail conditions. Choose from the many trails and activities, including: rain forest trail to refreshing waterfalls, visiting the observation tower and the hummingbird viewpoint, thrill yourself with sky bikes, night walks and night briefings.
Once again, our day begins early at 6:30 a.m. in the hotel lobby and takes advantage of the fact that many bird species come to the hotel to feed. After a cup of coffee, we walk down the road seeking out mixed-species feeding flocks: these usually feature different insectivorous bird species that move together while foraging. In a single flock, we may see over 20 different species, making these more-or-less common encounters an undeniable treat for bird aficionados. The activity takes one hour; we return to the lodge for breakfast.
There is time for a short hike today or one of our other activities. Check with your guide for the best option.
We return to the hotel for check out at 11:00 a.m. Our transfer leaves Mashpi Lodge at 11:30 a.m. We will be given a complimentary box lunch to enjoy during our drive back to Quito.