Mashpi Lodge occupies a beautiful rainforest setting – Photo courtesy of Mashpi Lodge
Ecuador is home to fabulous opportunities for nature and wildlife, ranging from the Galapagos Islands to the cloud forests of the Andes. Yet just three hours from the city of Quito, you’ll find one of the best hidden getaways in the country.
Mashpi Lodge is closer to Quito than the Amazon rainforest, but you’ll find the same adventure experience, as the lodge, located on the edge of the 6,000-acre Mashpi Rainforest Reserve, is home to over 400 species of birds, of frogs, trees and other endemic species found nowhere else in the world. At this stunning rainforest retreat, you can hike through the jungle, stroll along subtropical rivers, or even fly above the cloud forest canopy, as Mashpi Lodge is home to the unique cable car system in outdoor Dragonfly, as well as the two-person Sky Bike, giving guests an incredible aerial perspective of the surroundings.
Skybike through the jungle canopy – Photo courtesy of Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi Lodge has been called half a “biology department within a hotel”, as the resort employs up to thirteen wildlife biologists and guest scientists, as well as highly trained naturalist guides to lead guests on excursions through the reserve. They also launched a “Forest Steward” program that gives hands-on naturalist training to children, so they can become stewards of the cloud forest and educate them about protecting fragile, biodiverse forests around the world.
Mashpi guests meet their guides every night and can plan a series of explorations for each day of their stay, from hiking a trail of strangler figs in search of capuchin monkeys to swimming in natural waterfalls or climbing an observation tower to see the cloud forest (or immerse yourself in it via the Sky Bike or the Dragonfly). Guests can even head to the lodge’s hummingbird garden, where there are 20 species to view, as well as toucans, tanagers and other amazing cloud forest birds and animals found in Ecuador. .
The lodge is also home to The Life Center, a place of discovery and learning, where you’ll find a butterfly farm, hear howler monkeys in the jungle, or simply relax on the lounge chairs set out on the open-air deck, enjoying the serenity of the surroundings.
Room with a view – Photo courtesy of Mashpi Lodge
All rooms and suites at Mashpi Lodge are designed with floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing guests to stretch out and watch the forest come to life. Suites include state-of-the-art bathtubs where you can relax while admiring the surroundings, and all room packages include not only meals, but also all activities and guided excursions at the resort, use of the Sky Bike and even free rubber boots and rain ponchos. It’s basically a bit of a tropical jungle fantasy without having to rough it.
Exotic Rock Cock Bird — Photo courtesy of Mashpi Lodge
Setting off on the Dragonfly Gondola, four guests per cable car plus their guide make for an unforgettable journey, traveling slowly above the forest canopy. In the cloud forest you will find rare birds like the beautiful cock of the rock, a type of cotinga bird unique to the Andes. Male birds sport magnificent red plumage, which flaunts itself to attract females during loud and impressive lek displays.
These beautiful birds are just a fraction of the varied and abundant species that inhabit Ecuador and the Andean cloud forests. In fact, Ecuador is home to around 15% of all known bird species in the world, and you’re sure to be lucky enough to see plenty of them on any trip to Mashpi.
Mashpi Torrenteer Frog — Photo courtesy of Mashpi Lodge
At Mashpi Lodge, even the nights are thrilling. Go on a night walk with a naturalist and you will discover a life in the forest that you would never have imagined. Nocturnal creatures abound, such as the Mashpi Torrenteer frog, a new species discovered at the lodge. The frog’s Latin name is Hyloscirtus mashpi, which means “keeper of the river”. You’ll also find volumes of insects that only come out at night and even spot foxlights, a bioluminescence created by species of fungi in decaying wood.
Looking at the cloud forest — Photo courtesy of Mashpi Lodge
From day hikes to nighttime strolls to aerial biking through the rainforest canopy, this resort is an experience-based and activity-based vacation spot. You will explore, discover and – at the same time – be able to revitalize and refresh yourself in a magical place, all with lots of pampering and the trappings of luxury. Better start making your travel plans now.