Redefining the Forest Experience
Everywhere you look, you find life, in all its varied, surprising and multi-coloured forms
As you descend into the forest of Mashpi, you are let in on a secret. The curtain draws back and you’re led in to the backstage of the universe, stepping between the spotlights of the sunshine filtering down through the canopy as tropical birds and howler monkeys orchestrate the soundtrack. Perhaps it’s here where the most exciting event is enacted.
Here, every element, from the leaves of every shape, size and colour imaginable to the drops of rain that bounce off them and the animals they quench, plays its role in the greatest show that most will never see, working together in incandescent harmony.
This place, this steaming, breathing, living entity, where the air is rich with life and clouds linger like disembodied spirits, is not only the lungs, but the soul of the Earth.
Meet the mind behind Mashpi
Roque Sevilla, a visionary
We want to awaken your curiosity and imagination. We want to put you in close contact with this biodiverse world, through the forest trails with their trees, plants, animals, insects, feeling the rushing water of its rivulets and waterfalls as well as the incessant motion of the clouds…
Roque Sevilla is the main shareholder and visionary creator of the Mashpi Lodge and Reserve project. A passionate environmentalist, an orchid buff, successful businessman, former Mayor of the city of Quito and Chairman of the Board of South American tour operator Metropolitan Touring, he shares his thoughts behind the concept of Mashpi Lodge and his vision of the guests’ experience in this interview.
Global biodiversity hotspot
The forests of the Chocó
The Chocó biogeographical region runs norths-south from Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It encompasses the biodiversity hotspot known as the Tumbes-Chocó-Darién, extending along the western foothills of the Andes. It is considered to be of “high interest for the global conservation of biodiversity”. This is also the first forest to be considered a “Model Forest” in Ecuador. Worldwide, there are only 28 of these hotspots, spread over 164 countries.
The Chocó-Andean forest, located northwest of Ecuador, comprises about 125,000 hectares (309,000 acres) – although only about two percent of its original forest is preserved today – with a population of approximately 18,000 inhabitants.
By visiting Mashpi Lodge, you are directly contributing to the conservation and deeper understanding of this unique and precious ecosystem.
The Chocó forest is one of the most diverse in the neotropics. It is estimated that tropical forests, comprising only 6% of the world’s surface area, contain one-half to three-quarters of the earth’s species of plants and animals, according to the environmental organization “Proyecto Washu”. Mashpi is home to a profusion of plant species, from ferns and bromeliads to large numbers of orchid species, many newly-discovered, that biologists come from the world-over to observe.
The combination of the tropical climate, the equatorial sun, high rainfall and the differences in elevation on the flanks of the Andes combine to create a world of a million ecological niches where species thrive in their particular environment.
People are at the heart of our project
Mashpi would not be what it is without the collaboration of the local community. From the outset, we have sought to work hand-in-hand with those living in the areas surrounding the reserve, implementing an innovative programme in which they, as well as Lodge employees, become shareholders in the enterprise. Mashpi offers numerous job opportunities for members of the neighbouring communities including professional training and English classes. These same people will go on to share their unparalleled knowledge of the land and the wildlife around.
Guides, lodge staff and the team of para-biologists, for example, might tell you of how they used to work as hunters, loggers or miners on the same land in the days before the project.
But Mashpi goes further beyond. The communities are also the primary providers of agricultural and other food products and supplies for the use of the lodge.