The Mashpi Reserve – a steaming, breathing and living place – perfectly showcases the lungs of our planet and the organisms that live therein.
To descend and step inside of the reserve is to discover the hidden wonders of life. It is a universe in and of itself where, from the micro to the macro, flora and fauna surround and dance around you like never before. The magic here is palpable and its raw, untouched essence is so thick you can almost taste it.
It’s what brought us here in the first place, and it’s what inspired us to share this unique forest experience with the world.
Mashpi Lodge sits at 950 meters (3,117 feet) above sea level. Nestled between lower montane rainforest and cloud forests in the heart of a 2,500-acre private reserve, the Lodge is a luxurious outpost in the middle of a lush, green world, 70 percent of which is primary forest.
Species thrive here, not only those within the realms of our understanding but also those yet to be discovered. The Mashpi Frog and Magnolia are both endemic to this very forest and were only identified in the last few years – imagine what other creatures remain undiscovered!
Mashpi, located in the northwest corner of the Metropolitan District of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, provides guests with an unprecedented opportunity to explore both cloud forest and rainforest – two types of ecosystems that are highly rich in species and biodiversity. From the roots of the trees all the way up and over the canopy, guests will always be accompanied by experienced and insightful guides, most of which grew up playing around inside these same forests.
The Chocó biogeographical region spans the length of Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It encompasses the biodiversity hotspot known as the Tumbes-Chocó-Darién, which extends along the western edge of the Andes mountain range. It is considered of “high interest for the global conservation of biodiversity” and is also the first forest to be considered a “Model Forest” in Ecuador.
The Chocó-Andean forest, located in the Ecuadorian Andes, consists of about 125,000 hectares (309,000 acres). Only about two percent of its original forest remains intact. It is home to approximately 18,000 people, most of whom are farmers.
By visiting Mashpi Lodge, you are contributing to the conservation and deeper understanding of this unique ecosystem.
The Chocó forest is one of the most diverse forests in the Neotropical realm. It is estimated that tropical forests, which comprise just 6% of the world’s surface area, contain somewhere between one-half to three-quarters of the earth’s plant and animal species. Mashpi is home to a wide array of flora, from ferns and bromeliads to a plethora of orchids, many of which have just been recently discovered. Biologists from around the world have collaborated with our team of scientists to observe, study and understand these species.
The Mashpi Reserve’s staggering level of biodiversity is due to the combination of its tropical climate, the equatorial sun, high quantity of rainfall and different elevations. This unique blend of elements creates a world where species thrive in a million different ecological niches.
A staggering 400 species of birds – of which 36 are endemic (meaning they are found nowhere else in the world) – are estimated to inhabit the forests of Mashpi. Monkeys, peccaries and even pumas make their homes inside the Reserve’s dramatic, verdant hills which are dotted by majestic waterfalls. A myriad of invertebrates and amphibians inhabit this world. While you’d be lucky to catch a glimpse of many of these shy creatures, a network of camera traps allows to us to sneakily observe their movements in breathtaking proximity and clarity.
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 program 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 surrounding lands and wildlife.
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 during the days before the project. Their relationship with Mashpi, in this sense, is truly transformative.
And Mashpi takes it one step further: the communities are also the primary providers of agricultural and other food products and supplies that are used at the lodge.