Ecuador is home to some fabulous nature and wildlife opportunities, ranging from the Galapagos Islands to the cloud forests of the Andes. Yet only three hours from urban Quito, you’ll find one of the country’s best hidden escapes.
Mashpi Lodge is closer to Quito than it is to the Amazon rainforest, but you’ll find the same adventure experience, as the lodge, set on the edge of the 6,000-acre Mashpi Rainforest Reserve, is home to over 400 species of birds, frogs, trees and other endemic species found nowhere else in the world.
At this gorgeous rainforest retreat, you’ll be able to trek in the jungle, wander along subtropical rivers or even fly high above the cloud forest canopy, as Mashpi Lodge is home to the unique Dragonfly open-air cable car system, as well as the two-person Sky Bike, offering guests an incredible aerial perspective of the surroundings.
Mashpi Lodge has half-jokingly been called a “biology department within a hotel,” due to the resort hiring up to thirteen wildlife biologists and visiting scientists, as well as employing highly trained naturalist guides to lead guests on excursions across the reserve. They’ve also launched a “Forest Steward” program that gives hands-on naturalist training to children, so that they can become stewards of the cloud forest as well as raise their awareness in protecting fragile and biodiverse forests around the globe.
Guests at Mashpi meet with their guides every evening and can plan out a series of explorations for each day of their stay, ranging from hiking a strangler fig trail looking for capuchin monkeys to bathing in natural waterfalls or climbing an observation tower to view the cloud forest (or really immersing oneself in it via the Sky Bike or Dragonfly). Guests can even head to the lodge’s hummingbird garden, where there are 20 species to observe, along with toucans, tanagers and other birds and animals of the amazing cloud forest to be found in Ecuador.
The lodge also boasts The Life Center, a place for discovery and learning, where you’ll find a butterfly farm, hear howler monkeys in the jungle or just relax on the chaise lounges set out on the open-air deck, taking in the serenity of the surroundings.
All of the rooms and suites at the Mashpi Lodge are designed with floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing guests to lie back and watch the forest come to life. Suites include state-of-the-art bathtubs, where you can soak away while viewing the surroundings, and all room packages include not only meals, but also all guided activities and excursions while at the resort, use of the Sky Bike and even complimentary rubber boots and rain ponchos. It’s basically a bit of a rainforest jungle fantasy without having to rough it.
Heading out on the Dragonfly gondola, four guests per cable car plus their guide get a trip of a lifetime, traveling slowly above the forest canopy. Out in the cloud forest, you’ll find rare birds like the beautiful cock-of-the-rock, a type of cotinga bird unique to the Andes. The male birds feature a magnificent red plumage, which is flaunted to attract females during noisy and impressive lek displays.
These beautiful birds are just a fraction of the abundant varied species that inhabit Ecuador and the Andean cloud forests. In fact, Ecuador is actually home to about 15% of all the species of birds known in the world, and you’ll certainly get a chance to see plenty of them on any trip to Mashpi.
At the Mashpi Lodge, even nights are exciting. Head out for a night walk with a naturalist and you’ll discover life in the forest you never 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 “guardian of the river.” You’ll also find volumes of insects that only come out at night, and even spot some foxfire, a bioluminescence created by species of fungi in decaying wood.
From day hikes to night walks to sky biking across the rainforest canopy, this resort is an experiential, activity-based vacation spot. You’ll explore, discover and – at the same time – get to revitalize and refresh in a magical spot, all with plenty of pampering and the trappings of luxury. Better start making your travel plans now.
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