A mere two-and-a-half hours' drive west of Quito, Ecuador, Mashpi Lodge sits in the heart of a private reserve protecting one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots for future generations and the enjoyment of sophisticated and inquisitive travelers to Ecuador. The lodge, 3,116 feet above sea level on the western slopes of the Andes is listed as National Geographic Traveler UK's "25 Travel Greats" and adheres to the highest environmental standards with its total of 22 rooms and luxury amenities.
Visual contact with the forest is key to the Mashpi experience giving each room and the whole lodge an amazing feel for its hideaway location. For those looking for wellness in the forest the lodge includes a Jacuzzi with panoramic views and two massage rooms with specialized local treatments. There is also an outdoor terrace area for taking in the forest in all its glory. Complementing this distinctive take on the rainforest experience comes superb cuisine prepared from Ecuador's rich cornucopia of fresh ingredients by highly experienced chefs.
Activities at Mashpi Lodge
Equipped with rubber boots, rain gear and binoculars (provided by Mashpi), you'll be ready for an expedition into the dense green rainforest. Your specially trained local guide will take you along hiking trails that wind through this natural sanctuary, pointing out the unusual flora and fauna and helping you to find nature's hidden treasures and medicines. Adventurous guests will not want to miss the unforgettable nocturnal guided safari. Once the sun sets on the Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve, many of the most fascinating creatures emerge and become active.
It goes without saying that birdwatchers will absolutely love the Reserve. At Mashpi, however, you'll have the rare chance to hike to a lek (a place of avian courtship: think of it as a birdy singles' bar) where up to a dozen male birds flit from one branch to another in a dazzling stravaganza of colorful plumage displays, sing-song challenges and mating dances as they seek to attract females. This awesome, seldom-seen sight is sure to be one of your favorite memories!
From the Greek words dendron (tree) and nautica (navigation), dendronautics is the exploration of the rain forest canopy. Hop on board Mashpi's Aerial Tram for an unforgettable extended exploration of one of the Earth's richest and least-explored biomes, the tropical rainforest canopy.
Mashpi is focused on respecting and benefiting the local people and the environment as part of its sustainability goals; its Casa Campesina is a hands-on Interpretation Center that provides guests with a better understanding of both the natural and human aspects of the rainforest habitat. It features the chance to meet and get to know a local family, an intercultural experience you will never forget. Casa Campesina is surrounded by plantations of different local products including yucca (manioc), bananas, hearts-of-palm and coffee, allowing guests to harvest their own lunch. Those with a sweet tooth can learn how to turn native cocoa beans into dark chocolate as well as sample the final result.
On onsite Butterfly Vivarium houses local species of butterfly that flit around areas that mimic the streams, minerals and wild flowers of the forest outside. Hundreds of caterpillars feed on their host plants in a natural yet protected environment that assures the best development of pupae and butterflies. There is also a Serpentarium that presents a different side of one of the least understood of the rainforest creatures: snakes. Learn about the myths and truths that surround them and how they fit into the natural environment. At the Saparium you can also enter the fascinating world of frogs, a calm, green oasis where one minute you can hear the water trickle and the next be surrounded by a chorus of rhythmic calls, guttural croaks and high-pitched songs. You'll learn about the frog life cycle and observe tadpoles in every stage of their metamorphosis.
Epiphyte nature gardens are also at Mashpi. Epiphytes, also called “air plants” because they do not root in soil, grow on other living plants but are not considered parasitic. The best-known epiphytes include mosses, orchids, gesnerias and bromeliads. Ecuador is the top country in the world for the number of classified orchids, and Mashpi guests will enjoy an impressive array of orchids found in the Reserve, conveniently collected in attractive, serene gardens.
Run by the local community, Mashpi's tree and shrub nursery project teaches local farmers and loggers about the natural richness of the forest and conservation of native trees, discouraging extractive and harmful practices. The funds from this project are used for improvement of sanitary conditions, education and organic production in the surrounding villages.
On the way to Mashpi you can visit Tulipe, an ancient astronomical and solar observatory. The pre-Hispanic Yumbo culture (800 to 1660 AD) honored the Sun, the greatest deity in the Andean world. Tulipe was an important ceremonial center and features various stone structures, including pools used as water mirrors. Other nearby sites include the Pululahua Crater, which natives consider the navel of the earth, and the equator.
Accommodations at Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi Lodge consists of 19 rooms and 3 suites accommodating 44 guests.
3 total, 400 sq ft with king beds and their own Philippe Starck bathtubs-with-a-beach (Yaku meaning "water" in the Kichwa language)
19 total, 366 sq ft with 15 Wayra Rooms having two full-size beds and 4 having a king-size bed. Three pairs of Wayra rooms are interconnecting, each with a king-size bed connected with 2 full-size beds. (Wayra meaning "wind" in the Kichwa language)