LOCATION

It seems unfathomable that such a wild and remote site could even be associated with a city, yet Mashpi lies within the Metropolitan District of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The lodge perches at 950 metres (3,117 feet) above sea level and the reserve in which it is located ranges in altitude from 500 metres to 1200 metres above sea level. Even our local guests express amazement that such an incredible wilderness lies within the city borders and that it can be reached without complicated logistics.

ARCHITECTURE 

  • CONSERVATION AND COMFORT

Mashpi Lodge was built with the latest techniques for sustainable construction – like parts preassembled in Quito – and is designed to blend perfectly with its natural environs. It is strikingly-contemporary, featuring modernist design and décor, mixing warm earth tones, steel, stone and glass in salient perspectives: a true cocoon amid the forest.

  • OPEN-AIR PANORAMIC TERRACE

On the upper level, a lovely open-air terrace with pergola style roof, seats and tables, provides a space for guests to enjoy splendid views and a place to relax with the sounds of the forest and its inhabitants almost at touching distance.

  • OVERVIEW

Mashpi is designed to completely immerse you in the life of the forest, while keeping its creatures safely at bay – a luxury retreat amid the dense forest and stunning mountain views. The rooms are arranged over three floors, all designed with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall panoramic glass windows, some on two sides, with the forest just a few feet away.

Yaku Suites

The lodge’s three Yaku Suites (Yaku is a Kichwa word meaning “Water”) extend over an expansive 46 square meters (495 square feet). They are located on the first floor, at the lodge’s northwestern end. Each one features a large bathroom with twin washbasins and Philippe Starck-designed bathtubs-with-a-view. All of them have king-size beds.

Amenities:

  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Bathrooms with luxury amenities
  • Hairdryers
  • Wi-Fi Connection
  • Telephone
  • Bathrobe and slippers
  • Reusable water flask
  • Fresh, filtered water

Wayra Suites

The 20 Wayra rooms (Wayra is a Kichwa word which means “Wind”) all cover a generous 34 square meters (366 square feet). 13 Wayra Twin Rooms have two full-size beds, three rooms located at the end of the northwestern wing (next to the outside terraces) and the rest along the southeastern wing. 7 Wayra King Rooms out of the 20 rooms feature king-size beds. For families or groups of friends, three pairs of Wayra Rooms inter-connect, two pairs on the second floor and one pair on the ground floor, each one with a king-size bed connected to a room with two full-size beds.

Amenities:

  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Bathrooms with luxury amenities
  • Hairdryers
  • Wi-Fi Connection
  • Telephone
  • Bathrobe and slippers
  • Reusable water flask
  • Fresh, filtered water

RATES  2019

 

Single

Double

Child

WAYRA ROOM

$ 1.171

$ 1.340

$ 334

YAKU SUITE

$ 1.415

$ 1.624

$ 405

NOTES:                                                  

  • Prices per room per night in US DOLLARS (all year).
  • A child’s rate is applied to children under 12 years-old sharing room with two adults paying full fare.
  • A maximum of 2 children under 12 years-old can share a room with two adults.

INCLUDES:                                                  

  • All meals and soft drinks
  • Specialized lectures
  • Lodging
  • Shared Guided visits (English/Spanish) within the Reserve
  • Shared transfers (In/Out) from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Jw Marriot, Swissotel)
  • Waterproof ponchos and rubber boots

NOT INCLUDED:  

  • Bar
  • Dragonfly, $48,8  per person per stay for all activities that incorporate this service; $24,40 per children under the age of 12.
  • Gifts and additional items
  • Private Guide
  • SPA Services
Restaurant

Restaurant

The Lodge’s towering Dining Room reaches up two-stories high, a dramatic setting for a lively gourmet experience. Here, Mashpi’s chefs draw from the diversity of Ecuadorian cuisine and ingredients, making the most of its location between the coast and the Andes: the best of both worlds.

Mashpi’s gastronomic identity is inspired by the native ingredients and generous flavors of the forest, such as wild garlic, chillangua and other products. Our cuisine combines modern techniques and permanent research, while also paying homage to Ecuador’s rich culinary heritage.

Activities and experiences within the reserve

ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIENCES WITHIN THE RESERVE

The wonders waiting at Mashpi Lodge will delight the worldliest nature lover. The world of Mashpi is yours to discover, to experience, to cherish, and our expedition leader and top trained naturalist guides – many of them native to the region – are here to assist you on your journey.

Following, we have outlined the main activities and experiences we offer our guests. You can elect to combine them as you please, depending on your interests and abilities. Every night, you will be able to choose from our activities menu. All are accompanied by expert naturalist and local community guides.

The Dragonfly

The Dragonfly

The highlight of any trip to Mashpi is a ride aboard the Dragonfly, an innovative cable system which carries you under, through and above the forest canopy: a unique way to see the world anew offering unprecedented access to such a little-understood place.

The Dragonfly consists of two stations, six towers (with an intermediate station half-way, which we can use to embark and disembark), and four ‘gondolas’ in which you travel. Each gondola can carry four guests plus their guide. The Dragonfly travels gently and slowly along a 2-kilometre (1.2-mile) cable between the two stations, sometimes below the canopy, sometimes through it, and also far above it – it’s a bird’s eye view of this magical ecosystem where the sounds of the forest greet you like a symphony. It takes about 40 minutes to ride from one station to the other.

The Life Centre

The Life Centre

Located west of the lodge, the Life Centre was conceived as a place for learning and discovery, but also as a place where our guests can disconnect while they admire the scenery from the comfort of a chaise longue on the handsome wooden deck – a great place to spot birds, and hear the roar of mantled howler monkeys, too!

Here we learn about the species of butterflies found in this region, observing the whole process of metamorphosis from eggs into beautiful butterflies. About 300 species of moths and butterflies have been identified to date in the Reserve, and our team has reproduced 50 of these to date. About a dozen can be seen in the centre itself. Most of the interpretation in the centre is provided by our guides or the employees from the local community involved in the project.

Strangler Fig Trail

Strangler Fig Trail

Trails throughout the Reserve cross various types of terrain, ranging from the earth and gravel of the main road, forest paths carpeted by leaves, wading through rivers, while some have been specially adapted to make walking easier and pleasant, using embedded recycled plastic crates to create steps and firm paths.

This trail is named after one of the most curious plants in the reserve, the strangler fig. This seed plant, dispersed by birds, lowers its roots from the canopy into the ground around the host tree, and then slowly grows around it until it effectively smothers it. This trail is dominated by palms over 40 m high called pambiles or iron palm (Iriartea deltoidea).

Observation Tower

Observation Tower

One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Mashpi is from the observation tower. From here, we can appreciate a wonderful view of the canopy and the complex structure of the tropical forest, and on clear days we can see the lodge, the Reserve’s boundaries and a mosaic of forest, crops and little villages beyond.

The tower is a metal structure with a staircase that rises about eight stories (26 m or 85 ft), ideal for the wildlife lovers. Species spotted from here include toucans, woodpeckers, barbets, tanagers and parrots, as well as birds of prey.

The sky blue

The Sky Bike

Located close to the hotel, the Sky Bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 feet) apart, crossing a beautiful gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it’s an activity for children over 1 m high accompanied by an adult, providing guests with the chance to fly over the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens. The ride takes 10 minutes or 20 round-trip.

Hummingbird Garden

Hummingbird Garden

The forests of Mashpi boast 32 hummingbird species identified to date, inhabiting different specific altitudes, with around 19 species alone observable by guests in this garden. In order to make it easier to see these amazing creatures, we placed several hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders, in front a shelter with seating providing the ideal setting. Here, apart from hummingbirds, we can also frequently spot fruit feeder species such as toucans, tanagers, squirrels, etc. The site is located at a natural viewpoint, which, on clear days, provides breath-taking views of the Reserve’s forested hills. This is a paradise for photographers, regardless of your level of experience, as well as a place to calmly connect with birds and nature.

Magnolia Waterfall

Magnolia Waterfall

Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve close to the hotel, many forming beautiful small waterfalls, cascades and pools. This trail drops down right from outside the lodge to the Laguna River below. It’s steep in parts, with a great viewing platform about half-way, and a beautiful waterfall and pool for bathing at the bottom – with an all-natural Jacuzzi! The waterfall and trail’s name come from the tallest in the Reserve, a new species of Magnolia (soon to be published) that grows abundantly in this area, the species is heavily logged outside the reserve for its valuable timber.

Copal Waterfall

Copal Waterfall 

Water is key to life in Mashpi, and there’s nothing like a refreshing dip full of nature´s energy at the end of a hike! The water temperature is between 18 and 20°C (64 and 68°F). Don’t forget your swimming suit if you want to swim!

This medium-difficulty trail takes us on a magical walk through primary forest where many of the centenarian trees of the Reserve survived logging, with the copal tree (Dacryodes cupularis) being the most emblematic. It leads us down to a waterfall, whose rocks conjure an enchanting curtain of mist all around. The resin from this tree is used as an anaesthetic and for burning as incense; it’s also combustible.

The Healing Waterfall

The Healing Waterfall 

One of the most beautiful in the Reserve, but you have to be pretty fit to enjoy the hike there and back. The waterfall has an amazing setting, and what’s more, you can get round to the back of the chute of water to feel the energizing force – a special place to sit and meditate.

The walk starts from the hotel and takes four hours there and back, covering 3 km (2 miles). There are several other options to reduce hiking time, including taking a vehicle part of the way, walking to the Sky Bike Station, crossing to the other side and walking the trail to the waterfall, or combining the walk with the Dragonfly on the return.

Jungles Swing Trail

Jungles Swing Trail

This delightful trail starts near the staff house, a short walk from the lodge. It offers an excellent understanding of the regeneration process that forests undergo following deforestation. The first part of the trail was used for pasture just 15 years ago, and now it’s a beautiful young forest, dominated by pioneer species of Miconia tree. The trail ends in lovely mature forest before returning along the main path.

On this trail we can put the story of Tarzan to the test. Vines are bridges connecting the forest canopy, and some are strong enough to hold the weight of a person. Halfway along this trail, we can take a swing on Mashpi’s very own Tarzan rope-vine – shouting like Tarzan optional!

The Luminous Trail

The Luminous Trail

This is a short and easy trail which we use mostly for night walks due to its richness in insects. It’s named after the luminous ‘fox fire’ fungus that occurs here. It’s a glow in the dark living experience!

Capuchin Monkey Trail

Capuchin Monkey Trail 

This is the longest trail we have designed so far in the Reserve, covering more than 2 miles (3.5 km if the walk starts from the hotel) and connecting different attractions of the reserve.

On this trail we can observe spots where the Club-wing Manakin birds gather to perform their courtship dances. These locations are known as leks. This trail also leads to a fork down to the Healing Waterfall (1.3 km), and finally to the Laguna River. We return wading and walking upstream in the river to the Magnolia trail and from there back to the lodge (2 hours 1.5 km).

Torrenteer Lagoon

Torrenteer Lagoon

The Mashpi forest is transformed at night, with far more activity than during the day.

This lagoon lies a short walk along the road from the hotel, where a waterfall and river form a beautiful pond. This is the ideal habitat for various species of frogs – rain frogs, glass frogs and tree frogs – as well as other fascinating species we might encounter. In this lagoon, our scientific investigation team was able to discover a new species for science: the Mashpi Torrenteer. Its Latin name is Hyloscirtus mashpi, which means guardian of the river.

PROGRAMS 

At Mashpi Lodge, we believe in understanding your passions, interests and abilities in order to make your stay as memorable as possible. We therefore don’t have any set programs. We will make suggestions as to the highlights we think you’ll enjoy most, but really, it’s up to you how you spend your time with us. If you have a particular passion for birds, then we can arrange special treks or activities for you… If you want to meditate at a waterfall in the morning, then let us know… Please do get in touch with us in advance so we can best plan your stay together!

The following are outlines of how you might spend your time at the Lodge, exploring its huge reserve of primary forests and energizing waterfalls, and enjoying the unique activities we’ve designed.

We have an expedition leader who each evening will help you to plan your explorations for the next day, as well as a team of natural guides on hand to make the plans reality.

Mashpi 3 days / 2 nights Itinerary

Day 1 – MASHPI RESERVE (-/L/D)

The adventure begins in Ecuador’s heritage capital, Quito, at our 8:30 a.m. pick-up time for guests staying in Quito’s main hotels (time will be confirmed by our Operations Department). Mashpi Reserve, a 1,200-hectare (3,000-acre) conservation property located within the Metropolitan District of Quito, forms a part of the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest, known as one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots. The sudden shift in altitude from 2,800 masl to 1,000 masl (9,200 to 3,300 feet above sea level) will allow us to discover the spectacular natural diversity of the Andean landscape as we 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, we will be comfortably settled in our room where we will be able to rest before starting with our afternoon activities. During the briefing we will be introduced to the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities from which we can choose during our stay, and helpful tips about what to wear and what to bring to the excursions.

After a short rest, we will gather together at the lobby in order to head out on our 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 our trails offer great scenic beauty and each includes a unique attraction, such as a forest of “iron palm” (Iriartea deltoidea), special birdwatching opportunities, or other unexpected surprises.

For all our 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.

Day 2 – MASHPI RESERVE (B/L/D)

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 we 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. Our guides will help us 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 our hotel restaurant.

Our guests have the opportunity to live between 6 and 8 rainforest experiences on our most popular 2N/3D stay, as well as time to enjoy our new wellness offerings. 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 our many trails and activities, including the following:

Trails 

As you enter the realm of the rainforests, you will become aware of life at every step: mushrooms and “fox fire” fungi below, tree trunks festooned with orchids, lichens and mosses, giant ferns reaching up to the light above, coiling vines, swirling mists and clouds of moisture. And then, from nowhere, comes the sound of rushing water, a waterfall amid this glistening, green world, where you can wade through rivers, walk along their banks, revive your senses…

Two of the Lodge’s main trails are the Howler Monkey and Magnolia (named after an oak) trails. Both link up with the Tower #5 of the Dragonfly canopy gondola system. Along the trails, guests will learn more from both their Naturalist Guide and Local Guide about the myriad plants, insects and animals that inhabit this biodiverse universe. The guides will enthusiastically share their knowledge of their characteristics, behavior, and uses.

Due to Mashpi’s mountainous topography, trails are rarely flat. The Howler Monkey (mainly primary forest) and Magnolia (mainly secondary), although short – 2 km and 700 m, respectively – are steep. The trails’ steepness is an advantage since the hillsides enable more light to penetrate the forest, thereby increasing the diversity of plants and animals that one can observe at each stratum. Both trails have been specially adapted to make walking easier, using embedded recycled plastic crates to create steps and firm paths.

The way back uphill on both these trails can be aboard the Dragonfly, reached by wading through the shallow river in rubber boots, and walking the connecting trail to the Cotinga Tower.

A popular trail after completing the Sky Bike activity (see below) takes us to San Vicente waterfall, a 45-minutes-to-an-hour steep hike that demands good physical condition. You can also hike the Oxibelis trail that takes us to a small waterfall before heading back to the lodge. The combination of activities (Sky Bike, observation tower and hike) can take between 2 to 4 hours, depending on the trail chosen.

The Copal Waterfall trail offers a beautiful 2-hour-long hike featuring a landscape of moss-covered trees, bromeliads and orchids at every corner. The trail ends at a spectacular waterfall over 50 m high.

A refreshing natural juice and fresh towels will be waiting for us when we return the lodge, along with a varied and delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant. And the afternoon is yet again free for other activities. Consult your guide about the trail options and forest adventures that are best for you.

Refreshing waterfalls 

Water is key to life in Mashpi, and there’s nothing like a refreshing dip at the end of a walk. Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve close to the hotel, many forming beautiful small waterfalls, cascades and pools. The water temperature is between 18 and 20°C (64 and 68 °F).

Life Centre 

Close to the lodge, the Life Centre is conceived as a place for learning and discovery, but also as a space for guests to disconnect, contemplate the views, sit in comfortable chairs, read a book, and enjoy a fresh cane juice.

The best way to reach the Life Centre is actually through the forest, so we take what we’ve come to call the “Howler Monkey’s trail”. This path crosses primary forest dominated by many ancient trees, being the “copal” (Dacryodes cupularis) the most emblematic of them. We occasionally get to listen to rare birds, such as the Rufous-fronted Wood-quail (Odontophorus erythrops) or the Rufous-crowned Antpitta (Pittasoma rufopileatum). Our guides are keen on noticing every sound that comes from the forest deep, hoping to reveal colourful birds or elusive howler monkeys, while our naturalist guide explains the habitat’s ecology; both share with us their extensive knowledge on forest plants and their medicinal uses.

Once at the Centre, guests will learn more about the butterflies that inhabit the region, being shown the process of these creatures from eggs to pupae to chrysalis to winged wonder. Some 200 species of butterfly have been identified to date in the Reserve, with nearly a dozen observable at the Centre. Other points of learning dozens of species of orchids, bromeliads and passion flowers all around the structure. We will also discover various species of host plants that butterflies use to lay their eggs on, such as passion flowers, birds of paradise, milk weeds and other species found in the garden.

Close to the Centre, we have established an area for growing medicinal plants (ideal for a reviving herbal infusion) and beyond, many varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, tobacco, coffee, bread fruit, and heart of palm. These attract all sorts of wildlife, from birds to rodents to mammals – making for easier observation from the comfort of the Centre’s expansive wooden deck. Most of the interpretation at the Centre will be imparted by local guides or people involved with the project from local communities. Guests will find ingredients from these gardens in the dishes prepared back at the lodge.

Observation Tower

There are few easier or better ways to appreciate the beauty of the Mashpi Reserve’s forest and hills than climbing the Observation Tower. Here, guests are able to enjoy an exciting bird’s-eye view and the dramatic panoramas that surround the lodge from the observation tower. This is a metallic structure, with a staircase that climbs to about eight-stories high (26 m or 85 ft), ideal for wildlife observation, particularly at dawn or dusk. Species that can be spotted here include toucans, woodpeckers, barbets, tanagers and parrots as well as raptors. The tower lies a 10-minute walk from the lodge.

Looming above the treetops, Mashpi’s observation tower allows our guests to enjoy the protected forest in all its glory. At 30 m (100 ft) above the ground, this is an ideal site for nature lovers, allowing us not only to appreciate the forest’s complex structure, but also the incredible species richness that thrives throughout the canopy (70% of the forest’s biodiversity is found here). We climb 162 steps to reach the top.

Dragonfly 

Of course, if we really want to see the amazing canopy life, we need to get a birds’ eye view. Luckily, this is now possible, thanks to the Dragonfly canopy ride. Glide through the tree tops at a relaxed pace and view the dense forest, interrupted by cascading waterfalls, from an air-born perspective. In 40 minutes, the Dragonfly takes us on a route covering 2 km (1.25 mi) and gives us the opportunity to appreciate the true immensity of the Reserve, contrasting delightfully with the discoveries of minute life forms that we achieve on walks through the dense forest below. Enjoy the Dragonfly on its own or combine it with other hikes and activities to make the most of your journey.

Sky Bike 

Located close to the hotel, the Sky Bike provides another original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 feet) apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it’s an activity for children over 8 years-old accompanied by an adult, providing guests with another chance to observe the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens. To enjoy the ride, one must be at least 1 m tall (3.2 ft) (children must be accompanied by an adult). The bike ride takes no more than 20 minutes.

Hummingbird Viewpoint 

The forests of Mashpi boast 32 hummingbird species identified to date, inhabiting different specific altitudes, with around 19 species alone observable by guests. In order to make it easier to see these amazing creatures, a shelter with seating provides the ideal setting, with feeders for the birds strung from its roof. The site is located at a natural viewpoint, which, on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the Reserve’s forested hills.

Night Walks 

The Mashpi forest is transformed at night, with far more activity visible than during the day. Optional night walks will head out from the hotel after dinner to discover its nocturnal creatures and their behaviour. The species range from moths as big as your hand to miniature glass and tree frogs, croaking toads, birds, owls, rodents and mammals, and even fox fire, an Avatar-like luminous fungus. It’s a magical world, often astounding at the micro level, and seldom explored, ready to be discovered in expert company.

Wellness Centre 

The peaceful surroundings of the Reserve call out for a spiritual moment in which we unite body, mind and spirit. Keep up your practice at the yoga deck or just lie back and enjoy a massage, time in the outdoor hot tub (see which birds you can spot while you soak), or any of our spa treatments.

Night briefings 

Each evening, at 7:30 p.m., our Naturalist Guides or resident biologist share the wonders of the Mashpi with our guests. Learn about ongoing research projects, conservation initiatives, natural history of the region and much, much more.

Day 3 – MASHPI RESERVE (B/L/D)

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.

Mashpi 4 days / 3 nights Itinerary

Day 1 – MASHPI RESERVE (-/L/D)

The adventure begins in Ecuador’s heritage capital, Quito, at our 8:30 AM pick-up time for guests staying in Quito’s main hotels (time will be confirmed by our Operations Department). Mashpi Reserve, a 1,200-hectare (3,000-acre) conservation property located within the Metropolitan District of Quito, forms a part of the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest, known as one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots. The sudden shift in altitude from 2,800 masl to 1,000 masl (9,200 to 3,300 feet above sea level) will allow us to discover the spectacular natural diversity of the Andean landscape as we 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, we will be comfortably settled in our room where we will be able to rest before starting with our afternoon activities. During the briefing we will be introduced to the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities from which we can choose during our stay, and helpful tips about what to wear and what to bring to the excursions.

After a short rest, we will gather together at the lobby in order to head out on our 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 our trails offer great scenic beauty and each includes a unique attraction, such as a forest of “iron palm” (Iriartea deltoidea), special birdwatching opportunities, or other unexpected surprises.

For all our 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 PM.

Day 2 – MASHPI RESERVE (B/L/D)

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 we 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. Our guides will help us 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 AM and lasts about an hour. Then, enjoy breakfast at our hotel restaurant.

Our guests have the opportunity to live between 8 and 10 rainforest experiences on our most popular 3N/4D stay, as well as time to enjoy our new wellness offerings. 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 our many trails and activities, including the following:

Trails 

As you enter the realm of the rainforests, you will become aware of life at every step: mushrooms and “fox fire” fungi below, tree trunks festooned with orchids, lichens and mosses, giant ferns reaching up to the light above, coiling vines, swirling mists and clouds of moisture. And then, from nowhere, comes the sound of rushing water, a waterfall amid this glistening, green world, where you can wade through rivers, walk along their banks, revive your senses…

Two of the Lodge’s main trails are the Howler Monkey and Magnolia (named after an oak) trails. Both link up with the Tower #5 of the Dragonfly canopy gondola system. Along the trails, guests will learn more from both their Naturalist Guide and Local Guide about the myriad plants, insects and animals that inhabit this biodiverse universe. The guides will enthusiastically share their knowledge of their characteristics, behavior, and uses.

Due to Mashpi’s mountainous topography, trails are rarely flat. The Howler Monkey (mainly primary forest) and Magnolia (mainly secondary), although short – 2 km and 700 m, respectively – are steep. The trails’ steepness is an advantage since the hillsides enable more light to penetrate the forest, thereby increasing the diversity of plants and animals that one can observe at each stratum. Both trails have been specially adapted to make walking easier, using embedded recycled plastic crates to create steps and firm paths.

The way back uphill on both these trails can be aboard the Dragonfly, reached by wading through the shallow river in rubber boots, and walking the connecting trail to the Cotinga Tower.

A popular trail after completing the Sky Bike activity (see below) takes us to San Vicente waterfall, a 45-minutes-to-an-hour steep hike that demands good physical condition. You can also hike the Oxibelis trail that takes us to a small waterfall before heading back to the lodge. The combination of activities (Sky Bike, observation tower and hike) can take between 2 to 4 hours, depending on the trail chosen.

The Copal Waterfall trail offers a beautiful 2-hour-long hike featuring a landscape of moss-covered trees, bromeliads and orchids at every corner. The trail ends at a spectacular waterfall over 50 m high.

A refreshing natural juice and fresh towels will be waiting for us when we return the lodge, along with a varied and delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant. And the afternoon is yet again free for other activities. Consult your guide about the trail options and forest adventures that are best for you.

Refreshing waterfalls 

Water is key to life in Mashpi, and there’s nothing like a refreshing dip at the end of a walk. Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve close to the hotel, many forming beautiful small waterfalls, cascades and pools. The water temperature is between 18 and 20°C (64 and 68 °F).

Life Centre 

Close to the lodge, the Life Centre is conceived as a place for learning and discovery, but also as a space for guests to disconnect, contemplate the views, sit in comfortable chairs, read a book, and enjoy a fresh cane juice.

The best way to reach the Life Centre is actually through the forest, so we take what we’ve come to call the “Howler Monkey’s trail”. This path crosses primary forest dominated by many ancient trees, being the “copal” (Dacryodes cupularis) the most emblematic of them. We occasionally get to listen to rare birds, such as the Rufous-fronted Wood-quail (Odontophorus erythrops) or the Rufous-crowned Antpitta (Pittasoma rufopileatum). Our guides are keen on noticing every sound that comes from the forest deep, hoping to reveal colourful birds or elusive howler monkeys, while our naturalist guide explains the habitat’s ecology; both share with us their extensive knowledge on forest plants and their medicinal uses.

Once at the Centre, guests will learn more about the butterflies that inhabit the region, being shown the process of these creatures from eggs to pupae to chrysalis to winged wonder. Some 200 species of butterfly have been identified to date in the Reserve, with nearly a dozen observable at the Centre. Other points of learning dozens of species of orchids, bromeliads and passion flowers all around the structure. We will also discover various species of host plants that butterflies use to lay their eggs on, such as passion flowers, birds of paradise, milk weeds and other species found in the garden.

Close to the Centre, we have established an area for growing medicinal plants (ideal for a reviving herbal infusion) and beyond, many varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, tobacco, coffee, bread fruit, and heart of palm. These attract all sorts of wildlife, from birds to rodents to mammals – making for easier observation from the comfort of the Centre’s expansive wooden deck. Most of the interpretation at the Centre will be imparted by local guides or people involved with the project from local communities. Guests will find ingredients from these gardens in the dishes prepared back at the lodge.

Observation Tower 

There are few easier or better ways to appreciate the beauty of the Mashpi Reserve’s forest and hills than climbing the Observation Tower. Here, guests are able to enjoy an exciting bird’s-eye view and the dramatic panoramas that surround the lodge from the observation tower. This is a metallic structure, with a staircase that climbs to about eight-stories high (26 m or 85 ft), ideal for wildlife observation, particularly at dawn or dusk. Species that can be spotted here include toucans, woodpeckers, barbets, tanagers and parrots as well as raptors. The tower lies a 10-minute walk from the lodge.

Looming above the treetops, Mashpi’s observation tower allows our guests to enjoy the protected forest in all its glory. At 30 m (100 ft) above the ground, this is an ideal site for nature lovers, allowing us not only to appreciate the forest’s complex structure, but also the incredible species richness that thrives throughout the canopy (70% of the forest’s biodiversity is found here). We climb 162 steps to reach the top.

Dragonfly 

Of course, if we really want to see the amazing canopy life, we need to get a birds’ eye view. Luckily, this is now possible, thanks to the Dragonfly canopy ride. Glide through the tree tops at a relaxed pace and view the dense forest, interrupted by cascading waterfalls, from an air-born perspective. In 40 minutes, the Dragonfly takes us on a route covering 2 km (1.25 mi) and gives us the opportunity to appreciate the true immensity of the Reserve, contrasting delightfully with the discoveries of minute life forms that we achieve on walks through the dense forest below. Enjoy the Dragonfly on its own or combine it with other hikes and activities to make the most of your journey.

Sky Bike 

Located close to the hotel, the Sky Bike provides another original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 ft) apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it’s an activity for children over 8 years-old accompanied by an adult, providing guests with another chance to observe the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens. To enjoy the ride, one must be at least 1 m tall (3.2 ft) (children must be accompanied by an adult). The bike ride takes no more than 20 minutes.

Hummingbird Viewpoint 

The forests of Mashpi boast 32 hummingbird species identified to date, inhabiting different specific altitudes, with around 19 species alone observable by guests. In order to make it easier to see these amazing creatures, a shelter with seating provides the ideal setting, with feeders for the birds strung from its roof. The site is located at a natural viewpoint, which, on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the Reserve’s forested hills.

Night Walks 

The Mashpi forest is transformed at night, with far more activity visible than during the day. Optional night walks will head out from the hotel after dinner to discover its nocturnal creatures and their behaviour. The species range from moths as big as your hand to miniature glass and tree frogs, croaking toads, birds, owls, rodents and mammals, and even fox fire, an Avatar-like luminous fungus. It’s a magical world, often astounding at the micro level, and seldom explored, ready to be discovered in expert company.

Wellness Centre 

The peaceful surroundings of the Reserve call out for a spiritual moment in which we unite body, mind and spirit. Keep up your practice at the yoga deck or just lie back and enjoy a massage, time in the outdoor hot tub (see which birds you can spot while you soak), or any of our spa treatments.

Night briefings 

Each evening, at 7:30 p.m., our Naturalist Guides or resident biologist share the wonders of the Mashpi with our guests. Learn about ongoing research projects, conservation initiatives, natural history of the region and much, much more.

Day 3 – MASHPI RESERVE (B/L/D)

Come dawn, why not join the early birds in the morning once again up on the hotel’s terrace? Follow it up by enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. From up top, the natural beauty of the forest presents itself loud and clear as a multitude of creatures flutter, fly and buzz around in search of their own morning treat. The naturalist guides at Mashpi Lodge are no strangers to this whole scene, and will gladly assist us in identifying the near-overwhelming number of different species there are here, lending us their binoculars to admire the mesmerizing array birds that seems to sit within just inches of our eyes.

Or, alternatively, head to the Yoga Deck and awaken your mind and spirit to the beautiful vastness of the cloud forest. Cool down from the excitement and fuel up for the day ahead by going downstairs for breakfast. Following breakfast, 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 mentioned on Day 2, and keep on complementing your trip with new experiences. A delicious lunch and dinner await after every new adventure.

Day 4 – MASHPI RESERVE (B/-/-)

Our day again begins early, at 6:30 AM, 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 AM. Our transfer leaves Mashpi Lodge at 11:30. We will be given a complimentary box lunch to enjoy during our drive back to Quito.