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Reading Time: 7 minutes

The dictionary definition of a guardian is a person who cares for or guards something, but beyond that strict definition, a guardian could also be a thing or an animal, not just a human: a dog or any other animal that defends or protects. Today, technology also acts, one way or another, as a guardian: we live among surveillance sensors, speed cameras, and voice-activated home digital security technologies. No matter what type of guardian we’re talking about, their mission is to protect something valuable from something potentially dangerous.

The Forest Guardians project, as its name suggests, aims to safeguard the integrity of the protected forest of the Mashpi Reserve — located in the northwest of Quito’s Metropolitan District, within the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve — employing technology at the service of conservation.

Using an audio recorder, powered permanently by solar panels and continuously connected to the internet via a cell phone signal, the Forest Guardians in the Mashpi Reserve are located in strategic places. Through an Artificial Intelligence software, they can detect sounds at the precise moment in which they occur. These can be both natural and man-made. Special attention is paid to sounds, such as the whine of a chainsaw or the explosion of a shotgun, which indicate illegal activities. Using pattern matching technology, the software then sends an alarm to the Reserve’s park ranger team, so that they decide quickly to investigate what might be happening at that location.

Download the Rainforest Connection app to listen to the Guardians of the Forest in Mashpi live:

Download on Apple’s App Store

Download on Google Play Store

 

Mashpi Lodge and Fundación Futuro, together with the United States-based Rainforest Connection, have employed this technology in the 2,500-hectare Reserve since 2019. They have averted dozens of threats to its integrity, although, above all, the 10 Forest Guardians have acted as deterrents — would-be loggers or hunters know the Guardians are listening out and so avoid it.

Today, the goal is to take advantage of this same technology to go one step (or several) further. Why not, in addition to monitoring the sounds of illegal activities, identify the sounds of the fauna present in the forest? Why not use them to improve scientific knowledge of forest species? Why not enable guests and explorers to understand further the work of the Forest Guardians and of conservation?

Listen to the sounds of the reserve while reading this article!

The science of forest sounds

It may seem difficult to understand how one records all the sounds of the forest, but let’s break it down. In nature, we can hear the rain, the wind, birdsong, the chirping of insects, the vocalizations of amphibians and mammals, or any other animal that emits acoustic signals. Dozens of sounds occur simultaneously.

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Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata) at Mashpi (credits: Carlos Morochz)

On the one hand, we have biological sounds, which are called biophony, such as a howler monkey when it calls out to its troupe, a toucan making its presence known to others, a tree frog chirping hoping to find a mate, or the almost deafening concert of cicadas when sunset falls on the forest. These animal sounds are usually accompanied by those conjured by the rain, the wind, the rustle of leaves, the burbling of a river — these are called geophony. Finally, we have sounds produced by humans, known as anthropophony, such as chainsaws, vehicles, voices, or shotguns.

Together, they all make up soundscapes: the acoustic properties of a particular area. Think of it as a symphonic concert, with different instruments that we cannot always separate and differentiate. In fact, it’s extremely hard for our ears to identify and/or interpret each sound separately. Without the ability to discern sounds as we do with the colors of a visual landscape, we become accustomed to hearing the soundscape as a single melody, without recognizing individual chords. This is where technology is a wonderful tool.

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In order to understand this world better, we need to discuss bioacoustics, the scientific discipline that studies the sounds of nature, especially animals, and interprets them in order to identify a location’s biodiversity, to understand behavior, and to evaluate the communication or sound interactions between animals. For several years, bioacoustics have been used to identify species according to the characteristics of the acoustic signals they emit. Today, the use of audio recorders placed in the environment has revolutionized the study of species diversity. They require minimal financial investments, little time in the field, and don’t disturb the local wildlife. Their use is even more revolutionary in locations that are difficult to access and monitor — which is the case of the hilly, dense, rainy, and muddy terrain of the Mashpi Reserve!

forest guardians locations mashpi reserve ecuador

Years of research have generated significant bioacoustics databases, also called acoustic libraries, that contain the details of the vocalizations of different species. The Forest Guardians technology then uses these libraries to monitor continuously, record creatures that are not easily detected with the naked eye and identify what species it is. Thus, in addition to acting as protectors, the Guardians become forest experts. How?

inside forest guardian mashpi lodge

The artificial intelligence behind Guardians of the Forest

The Guardians are automatic sound recorders. Seen from above, they look like a small windmill, with eight fixed blades. These are, in fact, solar panels oriented towards the treetops that capture sunlight and power the waterproof box of tricks beneath. The box has built-in microphones that detect sounds (and ultrasounds) 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The recordings are stored in an internal memory, while a cell phone signal transmits the information to the Rainforest Connection platform, which in turn monitors the sounds in real-time. The platform was developed to facilitate the handling of huge amounts of acoustic information generated by the recorders (at dozens of locations all around the world). To give you an idea, each “Guardian” transmits more than 50,000 sound files to the platform in a single year.

Download the Rainforest Connection app to listen to the Guardians of the Forest in Mashpi live:

Download on Apple’s App Store

Download on Google Play Store

One of the biggest challenges is analyzing such a vast amount of information. The development of mathematical algorithms that apply sound recognition technology using complex statistical models by Rainforest Connection has therefore been essential. These algorithms detect coincidences or similar patterns between the files transferred by the recorders with those of the acoustic libraries that serve as a basis to identify species of frogs, bats, birds, etc., all in a matter of seconds. In this way, the presence or absence of some species is detected and the acoustic diversity in each area is determined. Soundscape recordings are therefore incredibly useful tools for estimating forest health and landscape changes, while the sounds of each species separately help us to assess biodiversity, and even lead to the discovery of new species or at the very least, improve records of identified species.

species foest guardians mashpi lodge

In the Mashpi Reserve, each of the 10 Guardians has an exact name and location within the forest. Thanks to the platform’s artificial intelligence, a map of each acoustically-detected species has been and is continuously being created. In this case, the position of the recorders is represented by a point on the map, whose size changes according to the number of times the call of species was detected at a certain location. The algorithm also calculates the detection frequency according to the time of day so that we know the times of greatest activity, which in turn helps us to understand how species behave in each place.

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Location of the Forest Guardians in the Mashpi reserve

Real-time monitoring empowers researchers and conservationists, but also citizens who want to better understand what kinds of actions are needed to improve conservation programs. It is used to evaluate changes in diversity over time, estimate impacts on population dynamics, and contribute to environmental education. In short, projects such as the Forest Guardians bring together scientists, conservationists and citizens every time they are participants in the benefits of the project and share the information obtained from the recordings.

Now it’s your turn

The Forest Guardians project invites guests of Mashpi Lodge to reflect on the sounds of nature. In the future, they will also be active participants in the conservation projects that are carried out in the lodge’s reserve.

For now, explorers can learn more through the talks imparted by the lodge’s guides; they can handle Guardians in situ to understand how they work, and how their complexity is disguised as simplicity, at the lodge’s Science Lab; they can use the Rainforest Connection application from the App Store or Google Play to listen live to the sounds recorded by each Guardian; and can appreciate the experience of listening to the sounds of nature as background music inside the lodge’s dining room.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Birdwatching has become an exciting activity for millions of people, with an increasing number of clubs and groups found in different countries across the globe. In fact, it has become one of the fastest-growing hobbies in all of North America! Even though it has suffered a temporary setback from the COVID-19 pandemic and its travel restrictions, birdwatching tours have evolved from a simple recreational activity to a burgeoning industry and one of the world’s strongest ecotourism drivers

The industry has led to a spike in sales for seed suppliers, birdhouse builders, and small businesses, helping people connect with nature in their own backyards. However, as people are starting to venture out into the world again and birdwatchers are ready to explore even the most remote corners of the planet, there’s no doubt that Ecuador is one of the very best destinations to embark on a birdwatching tour. 

Home to over 1,600 bird species within just 283,000 km2 (109,000 mi2), this mega-diverse paradise hosts the verdant Amazon rainforest, the towering Andes, the lush Pacific coast, and the renowned Galapagos Islands. Each of these incredible habitats is home to dozens, if not hundreds, of different bird species.

Toucan Barbet in Mashpi Lodge
The breathtakingly beautiful Toucan Barbets are endemic to the Chocó Bioregion and can be spotted within the Mashpi Reserve!

However, perhaps Ecuador’s crown jewel for birdwatchers is nestled deep within the Andean cloud forest where the Andes meet the Pacific coast. Known as the Choco Bioregion, it is home to hundreds of bird species, many of which are endemic to the region, leading to incredible opportunities for observing some of the planet’s rarest species. Right in the middle of the Bioregion lies the private Mashpi Reserve, which consists of over 5,000 ha. of pristine, original-growth cloud forest – a veritable paradise for birdwatchers.

Mashpi Lodge offers a haven to explorers seeking to get closer to all the incredible bird species that inhabit the beautiful Choco Bioregion, one of Unesco’s biosphere reserves. That’s why, if you’re interested in enjoying a unique birdwatching experience, we got you covered!

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Birdwatching at its finest: Mashpi is home to native and endemic species that cannot be seen elsewhere

The sheer number of bird species found in the Mashpi Reserve –nearly 400 to date, of which 36 are endemic (meaning they are found nowhere else in the world)– is simply mind-boggling.

One of the Mashpi forest stars is the Andean cock-of-the-rock, or Gallo de las Peñas in Spanish. Like many others, the males and females have very different features, most notably the color of their plumage with this particular species. The male has a large disk-like crest and brilliant scarlet or orange color on its head and upper torso. It has a black tail and wings, and pale greyish scapulars. The female is significantly drabber and browner than the male and has a less prominent crest. The male’s bright orange color makes it easy to spot, especially when they team up to dance en troupe for the females! Reaching the place where they perform this dance can be a bit difficult, but the reward is truly impressive. This experience is truly fascinating if you’re looking for a challenging birdwatching tour!

Andean Cock of the Rock at the Mashpi Reserve
The fascinating and elusive male Cock of the Rock stands out thanks to its intense red plumage.

There are also three different Toucans species in Mashpi, each of which differs in size and colors. Well-known for their large multicolored beaks and vibrant plumage, they live primarily in tropical climates but can also be found in the Choco. Their brightly-colored feathers and bills can help you spot these birds among the dense forest canopy. These are just two of the 400 species we mentioned earlier. The pristine environment at the Mashpi Reserve makes it an ideal place for them to live and, in turn, a perfect place for birdwatchers to come and enjoy these stunning species in their natural habitat. Every activity you do in Mashpi Lodge is technically a birdwatching tour

Crimson-rumped Toucanet at the Mashpi Reserve
The Crimson-rumped Toucanet can only be found in the humid Andean forests of Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Mashpi has knowledgeable and native guides that have first-hand knowledge of the bird species

Since the creation of Mashpi Lodge, the closely-knit team has always sought to work with the local community and those living in the area surrounding the Reserve, who actively contribute to the forest’s conservation. Mashpi Lodge offers numerous job opportunities for its neighbors and gives them professional training and English classes. These same people share their vast knowledge of the surrounding lands and wildlife with the Lodge guests, making birdwatching a unique, enriching experience.

The bilingual Guides and Expedition Leaders at Mashpi Lodge are thrilled to share everything they know about the Reserve’s bird species. Whether you have questions about their eating habits, mating habits and rituals, or even why their plumage is a particular color, they have the answers!

Mashpi Lodge's very own canopy gondola: The Dragonfly
From the comfort of our canopy gondola, known as The Dragonfly, you’ll be able to explore the forest from above! Keep your eyes open and get ready to spot some wonderful birds!

Guest experiences are tailored to their interests and ability levels. When they arrive at the Lodge, you will see a chart with all the activities you can do during your stay. Adjustments can be made at any time along the way, ensuring that guests have the experience of a lifetime in the Mashpi Reserve. 

One incredible opportunity tailored for birdwatchers is the early morning wildlife observation offered from the rooftop terrace of Mashpi Lodge. Every morning, starting at 6:00 A.M., guests can go to the terrace where warm, freshly-baked snacks and hot coffee, tea, and chocolate are set out, along with several spotting scopes and pairs of binoculars. As the day breaks, the air fills with the sounds of hundreds of birds, many of which are perched in the trees and vegetation in the immediate surroundings of the Lodge, meaning that guests can often see incredibly rare species from the very Lodge itself!

Exploring with Varying Levels of Challenges

Besides early-morning observation, the very best way to see the Bioregion’s unique and colorful birds is to delve into their natural habitat. Doing that may require longer walks into the Reserve that, while giving guests incredible opportunities to see Mashpi’s many inhabitants, present different challenges as well. When guests arrive at Mashpi Lodge, they discover that they are actually stepping into a cutting-edge research station at the forefront of cloud forest and rainforest conservation. Even while the Lodge itself was being built, many unusual steps were taken to preserve the Reserve, making sure that nature itself was disturbed as little as possible.

 

Natural trails at Mashpi Lodge
Having trails as natural and untouched as possible has helped animals feel at ease while roaming freely around the reserve. We are mere spectators of their beauty and everyday activities.

In fact, the Lodge is proud that they didn’t cut down a single tree or opened up a trail while it was under construction. The trails winding through the Mashpi Reserve are actually old trails that already existed before the land being purchased by its current owner. This, however, can mean that some of the hikes may be a little trickier to navigate. The Lodge’s website provides guests with maps and pictures of the trails to give them a better idea of how long and the trails can be and their differing levels of difficulty

However, keeping in mind that the purpose of a trip to Mashpi is to see remarkable bird species and breathtaking nature in general, guests will have plenty of time to take a gander with their binoculars and take award-worthy photos. Whether pictures are taken with smartphone cameras or professional cameras with telescopic lenses, guests have more than enough time to catch their breath and listen to the fascinating stories and facts that the Guides as so good at telling.

So, once you are ready to revisit the world, Mashpi Lodge is definitely the best place in Ecuador for embarking on a birdwatching tour. Start planning yours today!

Start planning your stay!

 

 


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Reading Time: 7 minutes

Experience a completely revolutionary definition of wellness in Ecuador by visiting the Mashpi Lodge Rainforest Spa.  This rainforest spa experience can take your mind off any unpleasant thoughts that may be plaguing you. Staying here will invigorate your soul and give you peace of mind.

We are happy to announce that Mashpi Lodge won Ecuador’s best spa lodge award in the World Travel Awards last year!

We also earned the Safe travels stamp from the World Tourism Council. Mashpi Lodge has reinforced safety protocols to ensure guests will feel completely safe during their stay. At Mashpi Lodge, your health and safety are our number 1 priority. Next is to ensure that you have a relaxing and wonderful vacation with us.

Samay treatment rooms
A stellar definition of wellness, inspired by nature.

Wellness at Mashpi Lodge 

Our SAMAY (which means Soul in native Kichwa) is Mashpi Lodge’s Wellness Center and a key feature of the Mashpi Lodge Rainforest Spa. All guests get to enjoy an open-air hot tub where you get to lie back, enjoying the blue skies above and the numerous species of birds. If you love yoga, we have an outdoor yoga deck, providing you with an even better experience. Your meditation and yoga exercises, practiced while surrounded by the stunning ambiance, will leave you feeling invigorated, revived, and restored.

At our Wellness Center, all guests can pamper themselves with our single and couples Spa treatments, all executed by our expert staff. We have Individual and Couples Massages, Exfoliation, and Open-air Treatment available.

Our Mashpi Lodge Rainforest Spa is where you can reconnect with yourself and achieve a relaxed body, mind, and spirit. It will be an unforgettable experience.

Wayra room at Mashpi Lodge
Wayra rooms offer an ideal place of rest and relaxation.

Our Rooms

Situated at a private reserve in the impressive Chocó Bioregion, staying at Mashpi Lodge lets you escape the city’s hectic rhythm.
You’ll look forward to waking up every morning and seeing the beautiful forest with its stunning views and flora. You get to see an abundance of greens and browns – all from the comfort of your own bed, in the floor to ceiling glass walls. What can be better than that?
We have beautiful suites designed to give all our guests the relaxation and privacy they deserve.

Whatever room you book at Mashpi Lodge, we can assure you of a quiet and peaceful stay. You are always surrounded by nature, and we ensure a good night’s sleep every single night. Don’t worry about the bugs and creepy crawlies, as we know how to manage them at the resort, the Lodge’s design is entirely hermetic in nature. Our sustainable hotel policies make Mashpi Lodge the premier luxury experience, perfectly in balance with nature and her needs. 

To ensure all our guests’ safety, we will also allow guests to eat their meals in their respective rooms by offering additional room service. While we maintain physical distancing at our restaurants, we kindly ask you to opt for room service to ensure the utmost safety.

Restaurant and bar at Mashpi Lodge
Dining at Mashpi is enhanced by the surroundings.

Delicious and healthful meals

Discover the different flavors of Ecuador with Mashpi Lodge’s exquisite dining! Ecuadorian cuisine is a sure delight for your eyes and palate. Our chefs will prepare all sorts of flavorful gourmet dishes that will satisfy your appetite for great-tasting yet healthy dishes. Our 2-story dining room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows provides guests with the opportunity to see the breathtaking views outside.

All guests get to experience spectacular dining from our experienced chef. We offer continental-style breakfasts — guests can choose from a variety of fresh fruits, different types of cheese, and bread plus energizing fruit juices and smoothies.

Lunch is a light affair with fresh vegetables, sandwiches, international dishes, and Ecuadorian cuisine. The classic Ecuadorian Ceviche, and all its varieties, is a must-try. At dinner, expect even more intimate and romantic dining with our floor lamps and delectable dishes.

Dining is not complete without wine and cocktails. We have a cocktail menu designed explicitly with the surrounding forest in mind. You get to sip an exotic array of cocktails you won’t taste anywhere else in the world, all themed around the forest and its many wonders.

For all our guests’ safety, we make sure that proper physical distancing is practiced in the dining area. Disinfection stations are available. Also, our ventilation systems are equipped with ultraviolet filters.

We have replaced buffets with à la carte meals for safety purposes, as it’s safer and personal space between tables is a guarantee. To minimize direct contact, our team will adhere to the use of PPE and hand sanitizers. Rest assured, we will never compromise the safety of our guests. At Mashpi Lodge, you can dine healthily and safely.

Mashpi Reserve waterways
Mashpi Reserve is filled of wonderful sites and gorgeous natural sites.

Wonderful Mashpi Lodge Experiences

Mashpi isn’t just a jungle spa experience, it also offers a whole slew of relaxing and enriching experiences. Our guided excursions offer you a deep connection with the forest and its inhabitants: you can swim in natural pools created by waterfalls, walk through impressive trails and rivers, enjoy the view from our Dragonfly canopy gondola, and skybike, do a night walk, and more. You’ll be guided by local naturalist guides that know the reserve like the back of their hand. We would recommend that you find the time to explore the world of Mashpi. It will be a beautiful experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.

The DragonFly is an exhilarating, open-air cable car experience that carries you over to the forest canopy, providing you with an even better aerial view. You get to see the beautiful vistas, breathing the fresh and healthy air of the forest. Another exciting experience giving you stunning views from above is the Sky Bike. It’s ideal for everyone, including children (accompanied by an adult, of course.) If you want to see more of the forest you can climb to the top of our Observation Tower,  a metal staircase that rises up to 85 feet giving you a simply perfect vantage point of the region. This distance from the ground is perfect for spotting toucans, barbets, parrots, woodpeckers, and birds of prey.

Visitors who want to experience trekking in the forest must visit the Healing Waterfall. The waterfall is a beautiful, special place to simply relax and meditate. If you do not want to trek there, you can always take a vehicle part of the way, walk to the sky bike station and take the dragonfly upon your return.

Another gem to explore is Copal Waterfall. The trail will take you on a magical walk through the forest and leads you to the enchanting waterfall. Don’t forget to get a refreshing dip! Close to the hotel are small waterfalls called Magnolia Waterfall. It’s excellent for bathing, with an all-natural Jacuzzi.

With a guide, don’t forget to experience Mashpi at night. The Torrenteer Lagoon is just a short walk from the resort. It’s the natural habitat for various frog species, including glass frogs, rain frogs, and tree frogs. You may see other fascinating species at the lagoon.

You will never run out of beautiful experiences at Mashpi Lodge. It truly is a place for both relaxation and exciting discoveries.

 

Children exploring Mashpi with binoculars
Children will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the idyllic cloud forest.

Also,  Mashpi Lodge isn’t just for solo travelers and couples – it’s a family-friendly place ideal for adults and kids alike. You can educate your children about the beauty of nature, exciting all of their senses as they get up close and personal with the forest. Our Life Center Butterfly Farm will teach them about the different stages of butterfly metamorphosis. It will be a delightful experience for all children and adults. It’s okay to let kids out of their comfort zone, so they can fully explore and share in the adventurous spirit. They’ll be perfectly safe, of course, thanks to all our health and safety measures!

We have day hikes and night hikes available for everyone! At the end of the day, all guests will have a fulfilling and educational experience exploring the surrounding forest.

To ensure the safety of guests, all procedures are contact-free. Proper physical distancing and use of protective equipment will be standard. 

Some useful items

To make the most of your vacation in Mashpi Lodge, we would recommend that you pack:
A hat to keep your eyes and skin always protected from the sun.

  • Long sleeve shirts for trekking.
  • Dark or lightweight pants for wet conditions.
  • Breathable socks.
  • Comfortable hiking shoes.

Other useful items you can pack include sunblock, a camera, sweaters, flashlights, and ziplock bags for your wet clothes. Keep in mind that we also sell these things at the resort.

At Mashpi Lodge, we ensure utmost safety for all our guests and the most relaxing time at one of the most lauded Wellness Centers in all of South America. We love offering a complete, holistic experience that will leave you feeling, energized and renewed, but we also want you to feel a deep sense of connection to Mother Nature and one of its most amazing sites on earth, a variable paradise! We hope to see you soon, safe travels.

 

 


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Reading Time: 10 minutes

Travel is starting up again, and in today’s new reality, there is a lot of nervousness and uncertainty when it comes to flying internationally. Just how challenging is it? What is the airport experience even like these days? And when you finally arrive at your destination, how much more rewarding does it feel? This blog is compiled from a few recent interviews with some of our guests who traveled to Quito, Ecuador, and Mashpi Lodge. We took this opportunity to ask them about their experience, and we want to share their answers with you. We hope you’ll find the information to be useful in helping you decide about your future plans and in understanding how you can stay safe throughout your travels and feel confident throughout your journey. 

Note: Some parts have been edited for clarity

Check-in Counter Quito Airport
Check-in counters at Quito’s Airport have plenty of hand sanitizing stations.

Flying from the U.S. to Ecuador 

How easy was it to get a flight? Did you have options?  

When we decided we were going to travel, I went online and found a flight almost right away. I was concerned about space aboard our flight, so I did a little research to understand the current policies regarding seating and capacity. I found that this article was rather helpful 

When I booked our flight, I upgraded to business class for a little more peace of mind. The rest of the plane was a bit more packed, so the extra space, to me, seemed worth the investment. The price was on par with what I was expecting. Had I booked a little further in advance, I may have paid around $600 for a roundtrip flight in Economy, or around $800 or $1,000 in First/Business class.  

What was the process likepreparing for your tripDid you have to modify your flight plansIf so, how easy was it? 

I checked the travel requirements for Ecuador and took care of the necessary errands I needed to run. Getting a SARS-CoV-2 PCR test was straightforward, and our health insurance covered the cost! We got our results back within 24 hours and were able to make a last-minute modification to our flight; moving up our trip by one day! The airlines are currently waiving fees for changes and they even allow you to make changes with very short notice. In all, it was a positive experience and didn’t take much time at all. 

What was your experience like at the airport and aboard the plane? 

We did the check-in process electronically, via the kiosk at the airport and checked our luggage. I was glad to have brought some hand sanitizer and some wipes with us. Going through security was a little different. For starters, everyone is spaced several feet apart. Travelers no longer allowed to handle bins themselves; one simply places one’s items in the bin, without touching it. This provides an extra measure of securityIt’s also nice to not have everyone bunched up, waiting for their carry-on items to finish being screened.  

When we reached our gate, every other seat in the waiting area had been cordoned off. However, the gate across the way was empty, and we were able to wait there comfortably and enjoy a bit more space. When it came time to board the flight, passengers were instructed to only approach once their group had been called, and to maintain a safe distance while boarding. As we boarded, we were handed a snack and a beverage. Everyone wore a mask aboard the flight. 

CDC International Airport Signage
CDC messages are posted in several languages at international airports.

What was it like when you arrived at the airport in Ecuador? 

When we arrived at the airport in Quito, we disembarked from the plane and were taken to a large waiting areaTherewe spread out and sat one seat apart, as per instructionswhile officials from the Ministry of Health checked our PCR test results and took our temperatureWe were then allowed to proceed to Immigration and Customswhere had to show our passportsIt was very straightforward and streamlined process 

Folks kept their distance while waiting for their luggage to come out on the conveyer belt. One final luggage screening and we were able to exit to the Arrivals area of the terminal. There, officials pointed arriving passengers to the exits where we were to meet our rides outside the terminal. This extra measure of safety supplied another layer of comfort and security. 

Click on each photo to get a closer look at our guest’s airport experience in both Quito and Miami!

 

How was your transfer from the airport to your hotel? 

Once outside the terminal, we met our driver who was standing a little further apart from the rest of folks. The sign was clear and easy for us to identify. The ride from the airport to the hotel was comfortable, safe, and I was really impressed with all the biosafety measures 

Overall, our experience of getting to Ecuador was really positive. 

How was your experience in Quito? 

Casa Gangotena Balcony Exteriors scaled
The wonderful view from Casa Gangotena’s Rooftop allows you to enjoy wonderful views of the city’s Historic Center without having to go out!

Our experience in Quito, at Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel, was amazing from the moment our driver completed the door-to-door transfer service, because as soon as warrived, we felt safe. The biosecurity process was clearly indicated and non-intrusive yet thoroughThe way we were welcomed, we were made to feel like guests in castle, as if we were dreaming! The service is exceptional, and the staff was so attentive, making us always feel comfortable and safe. Also, the food at Casa Gangotena was delicious!  

One of the things that stood out at Casa Gangotena was the fact that there were actually quite a few spaces to explore within the hotel. We had a few favorite spots, starting with the rooftop terrace. The amazing views from the terrace were worth taking in. I think we ended up hanging out there on numerous occasions during our stay. We also really enjoyed the interior courtyard with the funny Italian name, Loggia. The orchids they had on display were so beautiful and the glass ceiling was a delight, particularly because of the clear blue skies! In the evening, the restaurant and bar were just what we needed to enjoy some excellent food and a special cocktail. Also, it was probably one of the best nights of sleep we’ve enjoyed in a while! 

Getting to Mashpi Lodge and Enjoying It to the Fullest 

andean slender mouse opossum
The Mashpi Reserve is home to many impressive species!

What was the trip to Mashpi like? Did you take the transfer service offered by the Lodge? 

Overall, the experience was awesome. The trip to Mashpi was amazing from the moment we were picked up at Casa Gangotena. The transfer we were assigned was a very comfortable vehicle and the driver was really friendly and helpful. We were the only two passengers in the transfer. The driver gave us hand sanitizer and a neat mask with the Metropolitan Touring logo, which we wore throughout the trip. We enjoyed the drive, the road, the landscape.  

How did you feel while you were on your way to Mashpi? 

The best thing about going to Mashpi in these hard times is that you can leave all your problems behind. It is unbelievable how you can get there in such a short amount of time and just forget about technology, work issues, personal problems, COVID, and just about everything else, because you are in an otherworldly place, surrounded by nature and animals. You really do feel safe and like you can let go of your problems or set them aside. You just want to connect with the destination in every way possible.

What was your arrival/check-in process like? 

The moment we arrived we felt like we belonged there; everyone is happy to help you and its obvious they want you to enjoy the experience and have fun! You don’t feel like the virus is going to reach you in this place. The biosecurity protocols were really good and very strict about safety, which reflects the quality of the service offered by Mashpi Lodge. When we entered the Lodge, our bags were disinfected one by one, and we went through an ozone tunnel (this was repeated whenever we came back to the hotel after being outside). Once inside, we were given some towels and a welcome drink to freshen up. We were asked to not remove our masks until we were seated for our welcome/introductory conference. We picked up the keys to our rooms in small, disinfected boxes, and there were QR codes in place for everything, which made us feel secure in the cleanliness of everything. In all, arriving and checking in was a very smooth process. 

What was your first day/night like? 

Nightwalks at Mashpi Lodge
Mashpi’s night walks are one-of-a-kind experiences that provide you with a deeper understanding of the forest and its inhabitants.

Shortly after arriving, we attended a short briefing with Mark (the hotel manager) who just made us laugh the whole time, as he explained all the protocols at the Lodge and the changes they have implemented. He explained that we had different activities to choose from that day and the next, and that we could discuss them with our Naturalist Guide. We talked with Juan Carlos and said we wanted to walk to the biggest waterfall and swim, so he explained what our route was going to be and then we were ready to start our journey. After we planned our first day activity, we had a super delicious lunch and then we went to our room to get ready for our adventure.  

Our guide was marvelous and, I think, his guidance was one of the highlights of the whole trip, given how much he knew about nature. Along our 4-hour excursion through the rainforest; we saw and heard a lot of animals and ultimately got to enjoy our swim at the waterfall. The water just gave us all the energy we needed! We took the Dragonfly Canopy Gondola back to the Lodge and the experience flying above the trees was out of this worldwe thoroughly enjoyed the entire ride 

When we arrived back at the Lodge following the afternoon trek, we sat down to dinner and Mark joined us. He told us what it had been like to spend 78 days in quarantine at the hotel and how he and the staff managed to stay positive and in good spirits. We enjoyed our meal while listening to all his stories. In the evening we had scheduled an hour at the hot tub, which was so relaxing. We enjoyed it with a glass of the hotel’s special passion fruit beverage (my favorite). The entire jacuzzi area was disinfected in 15 minutes, and then again whenever a new guest arrived. You feel really safe because you only share spaces with the people traveling with you 

After my time in the jacuzzi, I had a really good massage. The masseuse kept her mask on, and I was asked to do the same, which reaffirmed my sense of security and care for my health. On returning to our rooms we would always find a little chocolate left for us each time someone from the staff tidied up. I went to sleep feeling like I had had the most perfect day. The ideal first day that made us fall in love with Mashpi. 

How was the overall experience with your meals? Did you enjoy the food? 

exterior restaurant mashpi lodge

Words can’t express how I feel about the food at Mashpi. It feels incredible that in the middle of the rainforest you can find a perfect à la carte meal! The resource of the QR codes was a well-thought-out experience, giving us the ability to go through the menu and order directly from our phone or from a tablet provided by the waitstaff. That said, the dining staff made excellent recommendations based on our individual meal preferences. At lunch, I had to ask for an extra plate of risotto because it was so good! Dinner was as fantastic as lunch; the dishes were plated perfectly. They were so appealing and colorful and arrived at the table covered, so as to not expose your plate to any contamination. All meals were served with strict adherence to biosafety protocols, and everyone wore their PPE at all times. There was even a little bottle of alcohol on each table, which you could use to disinfect your hands at any point during the meal. 

What were the activities like at Mashpi?  

The activities were wonderful and so enjoyable. You have a lot of things to choose from and it depends on what you want to see and what your physical condition and energy levels are like. (I did feel an extra burst of energy thanks to the wonderful surroundings, it’s like the jungle infuses you with life!). It also felt safe, because the guided groups are quite small, and health and safety are clear priorities. Social distancing was observed, and we had disinfection stations available near the Lodge and during many of the activities. The sheer size and secluded nature of the reserve was an extra layer of protection. Also, one of the evenings that we were there, we participated in a guided night walk, which was fascinating! 

If you’re interested in making the trip down to Ecuador and Mashpi, check out this amazing package. We have flexible booking policies and all the biosafety protocols to ensure a secure travel bubble!

What was the highlight of your trip? 

cucharillos waterfall mashpi
Cucharillos Waterfall in the Choco Rainforest, Ecuador. This area of jungle is the Mashpi Cloud Forest in the Pichincha Province of Ecuador, South America

The highlight for me was the walks we took by the river. As we neared the end of the route, we could suddenly see this stunning waterfall with bright blue water. I wanted to swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall so badly! I made my way into the brisk water and felt a sudden rush of energy course through me – just this sense of amazement at all the natural beauty that surrounded us! I felt a part of it all. 

Did you find that it was worth the while? 

It was absolutely a worthwhile experience! The whole idea of traveling right now may seem a little daunting at first, but if you take all the necessary precautions, which was easy for us, it can feel like a well-needed breath of fresh air. Having a direct line of communication with the hotel also helped me to go through with this trip. I booked directly through the website and was in constant contact with Mashpi Lodge’s Sales Executives. They provided me with all the information I needed about their biosafety protocols, updated me continuously about new government restrictions and guidelines, and gave me the necessary peace of mind to embark on this adventure.  

Today, I’m back home with a negative PCR test result, and I feel completely recharged. I believe that confinement has taken a toll on everyone, but this trip helped me grasp the concept of what is easily becoming the “new normal”. If anything, I only regret not booking a few extra nights, but that gives me the perfect excuse to return to Mashpi Lodge in the future! Visit number four perhaps? 

Would you recommend the trip to other travelers?  

I would definitely recommend itespecially to those who feel a deep connection to nature and prefer high-quality experiences! The Mashpi Reserve is different from any other place I’ve been to. The fact that this luxurious lodge sits in the middle of the cloud forest but somehow manages to blend into the landscape is mind-blowing. As stated on the website, it’s literally like sleeping in a cocoon! I even asked my travel party if they too had a fantastic view of the forest from their window, and they all said they did! You’re surrounded by nature even when you’re inside the building, so the fun and excitement never end. 

That said, the real magic always happens out in the Reserve! There are so many things to do! When I saw the available trails and activities, I was in awe. They had added a few new things since the last time we were here. The guides and the Expedition Leader’s ability to adapt to guests’ preferences and skill levels was impressive as alwaysSince they know the Reserve like the back of their hand; they’re trained to see things that most of us would never spot in a million years! While we were riding aboard the Dragonfly, our guide just kept spotting birds I would have been never been able to see without my binoculars! 

What advice would you give to fellow travelers? 

Make the most out of your time at the Lodge and expect a do a lot of exercise during your stay! That is if you wish to really take advantage of all the activities offered. You may feel like you can’t possibly fit in all the activities on offer, so you need to think about what you want to experience and be vocal about it when talking with the guides and the Expedition Leader. They really do go all out to ensure your experience is everything you want it to be during your stay! Also, keep in mind that you will need some time to rest between activities! So, I would recommend to just relax and try to disconnect and enjoy nature at ease. Even though the Lodge provides wi-fi, think of this as a good opportunity to connect with nature instead, and disconnect from what we call the “real world”. Hiking and exploring are great for this and can really open and excite your mind, but your body may find it has to work overtime to keep up! So, don’t feel like you need to “cram” your stay with tons of activities; pamper yourself a little too with some quality downtime. 


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<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">3</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/night-time-activities/"></div>Find out why the amazing Choco Forest is teeming with activity after night falls. The night walks and activities offered at Mashpi Lodge simply cannot be passed up<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/night-time-activities/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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Reading Time: 5 minutes

This post was last updated on July 5th, 2022

Travel requirements for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Can I travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands?

Yes. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands have been open for travel since July 2020.

What are the current travel restrictions for entry to Ecuador and Galapagos?

  • Travelers aged 3 and older must provide proof (card with QR code or certificate) of COVID-19 vaccination (full series), completed at least 14 days prior to arriving in Ecuador.
  • Or… a negative RT-PCR result on a test administered within 72 hours of boarding their flight to Ecuador. This requirement also applies for entry to Galapagos. Should the time requirement for connecting flights from Ecuador’s mainland to the Galapagos Islands expire, an additional test will be needed from an authorized laboratory.
  • Traveler health declaration filled out in advance, online (available via Ecuador’s Ministry of Public Health website). A printed version can also be filled out before or upon arrival.
  • An additional requirement for Galapagos is the “transit control card” issued by the Government of Galapagos.  Contact your tour operator for more information on this requirement.
  • travel insurance certificate is required for travel to Galapagos.

Got a question? Get in touch with a destination expert!

What do I need to travel back to the US?

U.S. Citizens, Nationals, and Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders) returning to the U.S. by air are no longer required to undergo coronavirus testing for return travel to the U.S. If you have further questions, you can consult official information sources.

At Mashpi Lodge, your health and safety are of the utmost importance to us

By focusing our preparation, protocols, and procedures on the traveler experience, we can prioritize your safety and wellbeing throughout your time with us. A solid, capable, and proven staff handle everyday safety checks of our hotels, expedition vessels, and transportation vehicles), while our well-connected operations team coordinates details at every turn.

Keeping in mind that the world is a magical place, we acknowledge that these are uncertain times for travel. That being the case, tourism and travel experts, like us, are adapting to today’s challenges and preparing for potential eventualities, however improbable. Our greatest asset is our team, and our go-to tools are knowledge, experience, and a solid network of thoroughly vetted partners and service providers.

Additionally, our team is constantly improving via trainings, seminars, and the daily practice that comes with welcoming travelers from all over the world! Let’s take a look at some more specifics.

Safety Measures

This is what we are about. Our implementation of up-to-date safety measures in all our products and experiences goes hand in hand with routine maintenance and care for our vehicles, vessels, and properties. This is just one piece of the puzzle.

Staff training, drills, and firsthand knowledge of critical actions and operations are another important component. In the past, we’ve had to deal with unforeseen issues that have at times impacted our operations. Each of these has been a solid learning experience and an opportunity to hone our skills and strengthen our resilience. It’s what gives us the confidence to guarantee your safety and wellbeing.

Approaching your safety responsibly, with professionalism, seriousness, and compassion, means maintaining our transportation and accommodation spaces pristine and disinfected; keeping our public areas safe, clean, and clutter-free, and making sure our facilities are neat and tidy at all times.

Medical Expertise at the Ready

We take it one step further than just about all our competitors by having a medical officer available 24/7 aboard each of our Galapagos expedition vessels; professional guides with emergency medical training ready to respond to any emergency, big or small, no matter the hour, at our Mashpi Lodge; and nearby medical professionals that can arrive in an instant at our Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel in Quito, Ecuador and our Finch Bay Hotel in Galapagos.

Similarly, our teams in Peru and Colombia work with trusted providers. Their protocols and procedures have been thoroughly vetted; these include emergency protocols that we have carefully reviewed and that we trust.

Safety in Motion

Domestic Flights and Ground Transportation

Electronic, contact-free procedures are beginning to replace the more traditional or formal check-in procedures. Don’t be surprised if the next time you travel you notice personal interactions limited when strictly necessary. To guarantee physical distance, waiting areas, counters, and screening points are undergoing some pretty cool changes, too. These vary from airport to airport, and terminal to terminal. It’s an exciting time to be traveling!

On the ground, our vehicles, and personnel (including guides, luggage-handling staff, and drivers) follow a set of protocols that includes readily available hand sanitizer, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary, ample spaces and spacing when recommended, and so on. Additionally, our team takes part in regular health screening via checkups, and vehicles undergo regular, rigorous disinfection and cleaning. Sometimes, luggage is handled or transported separately by a support team.

Many of our transfer vehicles—that pick you up or drop you off at the airport—already have limited or low capacity so as to give our guests a little more personal space.

Safety at Sea

Expedition Vessels

We’ve already covered some of our most important safety measures regarding the Galapagos, where we have our three awarding winning expedition vessels ready to welcome you aboard. Here is a quick recap of what we’re doing to keep you safe at sea.

  • Onboard medical officer available 24/7, with a dedicated medical treatment and consultation area.
  • Crew member and passenger health screenings prior to boarding.
  • Latest technology (like UV filters and ozone cleaning systems) aboard each vessel.
  • Increased personal space for guests and crew, including modified public areas.
  • Excellent guest-space ratios that average well above the recommended 28.26 square feet per guest in cabin, dining, and social areas.

Small expedition groups led by Park-certified Naturalist Guides. We operate with at most, 11 or 12 guests per guide, far fewer than the GNP-stipulated maximum of 16 guests per guide.

Safety at Rest

Our Hotels

The numerous team members at each of our hotels (Casa GangotenaMashpi Lodge, and the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel) participate in a routine health screenings at each location. Each hotel’s dining and bar areas are disinfected and cleaned throughout the day. Also, our products have always been geared towards boutique, non-massive facilities; ample spaces are guaranteed, and ventilation systems incorporate ultraviolet filters and ozone-based cleaning equipment.

It is important to note that each of our essential processes carries the environmental seal of approval for use in natural settings that are highly sensitive, like the Chocó Bioregion and the Galapagos Islands.

Our Restaurants and Bars

À la carte meals are a safer option than buffet-style meal offerings. Room service meals are always an option should our guests want to enjoy a little more personal space while having a delicious meal. Our dining spaces are naturally designed to be and feel quite ample. Our waitstaff are considerate in their use of PPE, and things like readily available hand sanitizer and appropriate distancing are good practices that we continue to observe.

Our hotels’ dining areas provide a personal space ratio 1.8 times higher than the international suggested a minimum of 28.3 square feet per guest, often averaging above 51.4 square feet per guest.

Safety while Touring Visitor Sites and Attractions

All our visiting sites are part of well-preserved sanctuary destinations. In the Galapagos Islands, when visiting any site within the GNP, you’ll always be accompanied by a Park-certified naturalist guide, and we always observe Park rules.

Similarly, within the amazing rainforest preserve at Mashpi in the heart of the Chocó Bioregion, we will continue to operate with small groups of around four guests per guide.

Also, our land tours are designed to take you to fascinating places, avoiding tourist traps and overcrowded attractions.

In conclusion…

We believe that enhancing the way we keep you safe, by incorporating new technology and better practices, helps us mitigate any potential risks to your wellbeing. We are committed to doing our very best to safeguard our guests’ health, safety, and wellbeing while showing them a unique and truly beautiful part of the world.

In essence, we create a sort of safety corridor, by escorting our guests along each part of their visit. Our goal is for our guests to feel safe and confident throughout their entire time with us, from the moment we greet them to the moment we drop them off on route to their next destination. This is something we know will add value to their experience, and it’s part of who we are.

 


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Reading Time: 3 minutes

CLOUD FOREST LOCAL FRUIT CAKE RECIPE 

The inspiration behind this dish was the amazing fruit called Limón mandarino, otherwise known as Rangpur lime. A hybrid between a lemon and a tangerine, it tastes somewhat like both: the aroma and tartness of a lemon and the juiciness of a tangerine.  A type of mold grows on the skin so it doesn’t quite look like its more well-known cousins, with their shiny green and yellow skins. This fruit has a rough texture that sometimes gives the impression that the fruit is going bad, but the truth is that this in nowhere near the truth, the softer the lemon gets, the juicier it is inside and the mold on the surface has no negative effect on the fruit, it just makes it harder to sell in the market.

We invite you to delight on this amazing recipe, knowing full well that it’s going to be hard to top from home.

8-10 portions

 

Ingredients

300g Wheat flour

180g Brown or dark sugar

3 free-range eggs

175g Avocado/coconut oil

2g Ishpingo (Amazonian cinnamon) or cinnamon powder

150 gr Local seasonal fruit puree

4g Baking powder

2.5 gr Salt

30g Lemon juice

Directions

  1. Sift the dry ingredients and base (flour, salt, baking powder and ishpingo or cinnamon powder)
  2. Mix the black or brown sugar with oil and seasonal fruit purée with a whisk.
  3. Add eggs to the oil mixture, one by one. Beat at medium speed with a mixer.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and keep stirring until a creamy texture is achieved.
  5. Put waxed paper at the bottom of the pan and bake at 170ºC for 30 minutes. Allow cooling and remove the wax paper.
  6. Cut the mix into portions and spread a dab of brown-sugar buttercream. Top everything with green aromatic leaf powder. We use sun-dried lemon tangerine leaf powder from the Guayabillas

 

*Our version of this purée is made with a mix of local seasonal fruits such as salak, pineapple and roasted banana. The texture should be thick and without any big lumps.

Most kinds of ripe fruit can be used for this purpose. For better results, aim to balance the sweetness and tartness of the fruits.

 

Buttercream

Ingredients

150g Egg whites

140g Brown or dark sugar

350g Unsalted butter cut into pieces and at room temperature (previously made brown butter)

2g Good quality vanilla essence

50g Lemon leaf powder

1g salt

Directions

  1. Prior to preparation, place blender glass and whip in the fridge to cool for one hour. Brown the butter carefully. Place in a separate bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Dissolve the brown sugar in the egg whites in a bain-marie (the water should not touch the pot or be allowed to boil) until it reaches 65ºC.
  3. Put the mixture in the bowl of the cooled mixer, mix to lower the temperature, once it reaches 30ºC, beat until a shiny meringue with stable peaks forms.
  4. Change the whisk for the shovel accessory and start adding the butter in small, steady drips (the mixture must be cold to avoid melting the butter).
  5. Keep whisking at a steady pace.
  6. Once the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture, whisk at a higher speed to achieve the highest creaminess possible.(This buttercream can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week. Prior to use it must be tempered and whipped)
  7. Clean the lemon leaves and dry them at 45°C.
  8. Grind to a fine powder. Keep in an airtight container.
cake recipe Mashpi Lodge
Cake recipe from Mashpi Lab’s kitchen. Try it at home!

 


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<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">3</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/tropical-diseases-mashpi/"></div>Mashpi Lodge's airtight design and a carefully implemented Safety Protocol make for a multilayered level of protection that guarantee your safety.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/tropical-diseases-mashpi/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


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Reading Time: 9 minutesFind out why we are a true ecolodge for the best rainforest vacation.

In recent years, Ecuador has become a leading eco-tourism destination thanks to growing international appreciation for its astonishing levels of biodiversity and rich ecosystems. Visitors to this beautiful country are spoiled for choice in deciding which regions to visit—not every country is known for having “four worlds,” after all. This decision often starts to get more difficult for those looking to make an environmentally-conscious one. The international sphere has only recently begun to define what sustainable tourism means, and green standards are not always reliable. In fact, as these types of accommodations grow in popularity, many hotels are simply adding “eco” to their name to attract more tourists. Thus, environmentally conscious tourists are understandably wary when choosing their lodging in Ecuador to ensure that it complies with recognized eco-standards, checking to make sure that the enterprise is true to its name while at the same time making sure that it offers outstanding service and unforgettable adventures.

Did you know...
Mashpi comes from the Kichwa word “Mashi”, which means friend, and the Yumbo word “pi”, that symbolizes water. Together, these words mean “friend of the water”.

Choosing Your Ecuadorian Ecolodge Experience

For tourists looking for a comfortable yet authentic vacation, ecolodges are becoming an increasingly popular choice thanks to their two-tiered objective of creating a genuine Ecuadorian experience while providing guests with decidedly sustainable and high-end service. These hotels are unique in that they offer guests the opportunity to leave the demands of city life behind and become enveloped in the local spirit and natural beauty that make Ecuador the dynamic and rich country it is. These sustainable hotels not only strive to provide their guests with comfort but to also educate visitors on the area where they are staying. Additionally, ecolodges seek to implement environmentally-sustainable practices and monitor their environmental impact to provide a comprehensive and memorable experience for their guests. This is particularly important these days because there are one-too-many hotels that do what is called “greenwashing,” in which they make the accommodations appear more sustainable than they really are. However, tourists can rest assured that ecolodges are working to implement modern environmental practices and transparency for the public.

Cloud forest surrounding Mashpi Lodge

What makes Mashpi Lodge such a unique destination?
Located in the Choco Bioregion, Mashpi Lodge is a luxury jungle lodge and one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. The reserve surrounding our hotel in the rainforest is home to over 400 species of birds, alongside numerous species of trees and frogs that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Additionally, its amazing topography includes waterfalls and distinctly unique flora that will definitely make your trek through the forest an unforgettable journey. When choosing your rainforest vacation accommodations, Mashpi Lodge is certainly one of the best options in South America. Our hotel has received several accolades on multiple occasions and has been named the best rainforest hotel by several awarding entities. Learn more about our ecolodge here.

The challenge, therefore, lies in deciding which of the stunning and diverse regions of Ecuador you will want to visit, and finding the perfect lodge for you. Many of the ecolodges in Ecuador are concentrated in the Amazon region, but they are also found among the country’s cloud forests, including its western rainforest known as the Choco Rainforest, and in the Andean highlands. Each of these regions varies significantly in the biodiversity and lifestyle that visitors will come across during their cloud forest vacation, as well as their unique climates and geographies. The Choco Rainforest, for example, is strikingly unusual due to the fact that, as it rises into the mountains, it transitions into a cloud forest, which makes for one of the few accessible areas in Ecuador that are both rainforest and cloud forest. Even more unusual is the fact that the Choco Rainforest was once a part of the Amazon before the Andes Mountains even formed. As a result, this rainforest is home to a stunning collection of endemic life, including over 400 species of birds, 43 species of amphibians, and 65 species of reptiles. Consequently, it’s always a good idea to study each region carefully to choose the area that most aligns with your interests. When it comes to a jungle lodge, Mashpi is ideal!

The Top 3 Mashpi Lodge ‘Ecolodge’ Factors that Make it Different From the Rest

Among the ecolodges that welcome tourists to this gorgeous country, the modern structure of Mashpi Lodge is wholly unique due to the fact that it extends itself out of the dense foliage of the Choco Rainforest, and it does so almost in complete harmony with the environment surrounding it. Built piece by piece over a span of two years, not a single tree was chopped down during its construction, and it was designed to blend seamlessly into the biodiversity hotspot of the Mashpi Reserve. The beautiful contemporary design and decor of earthy tones, steel, stone, and glass provide its guests with elegant lodgings–an oasis of peace and luxury in the middle of this exotic destination. Mashpi has implemented innovative sustainability solutions in both its architectural design and management style (not to mention modern and comfortable accommodations), and our jungle lodge is certainly no exception. Trust that we can give you the most enjoyable rainforest vacation you’ve had!

1. The Unusual History of Mashpi Lodge

The story of Mashpi Lodge began more than a decade ago when the large swath of land (a part of which is where it now stands) was bought from a logging company in order to save the region and its wildlife from further deforestation. Unfortunately, the Choco Rainforest suffers from one of the highest rates of deforestation in all of Ecuador, and 90% of the original Choco has already been lost to exploitation. Thus, Mashpi Lodge has become an important force in maintaining this precious ecosystem (particularly because the remaining part of the forest has maintained 80% of its primary growth). The Lodge itself is located on the site where the timber company’s sawmill stood, and the roads leading to this breathtaking site are the old logging roads. Thus, due to the presence of pre-existing infrastructure, our ecolodge was able to significantly minimize its environmental footprint during the construction process.

Land evaluation prior to building efforts at Mashpi Lodge

Furthermore, before construction of the lodge was even completed, a biologist was hired to learn as much as possible about the ecosystem surrounding it, as well as the rest of the 1,200-hectare (3,000-acre) reserve. These findings became part of a continually expanding research project and were fully incorporated into the Lodge’s conservation and resources management strategy. Today, Mashpi Lodge is involved in several research projects carried out in situ, much of which includes work with butterflies, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals, macroinvertebrates, and amphibians. It has signed multiple agreements with national and international conservation groups, and also works with universities to further enable the spread, and promote the importance, of research and knowledge, continuously working to expand its understanding of the land where it is located.

2. Fostering Knowledge for the Greater Good

Said extensive research and environmental work are made readily available to Mashpi Lodge’s guests, both in terms of sharing the knowledge acquired and using it to further improve the experience for those who come from all over the world to enjoy this pristine place. Research findings are eagerly shared with guests during informative tours through the Choco cloud forest. Guests are welcome to explore the surrounding ecosystems at their leisure with the guidance of local and interpretive naturalist guides who seem to know just about every leaf of Ecuador’s vast cloud forests. Mashpi Lodge has also developed several unique interactive experiences for its guests to further explore the area they are staying in, including the innovative Sky Bike, an Observation Tower, and a gondola known as The Dragonfly, which offers spectacular 360-degree views of the forest below. The Life Center also provides guests with the opportunity to learn about the many butterfly species that inhabit the forest and observe the colorful toucans and hummingbirds that visit the area. We deliver a rainforest vacation filled with learning and discovery!

Guide at Mashpi Lodge's laboratory

The extensive information gathered by Mashpi researchers is also used to ensure that Mashpi Lodge is implementing modern and sustainable practices properly. This includes keeping an eye on how waste is handled, how food and water are sourced, and how efficiently the Lodge is using electric energy. Mashpi Lodge makes an effort to source its food locally in order to reduce its carbon footprint by importing less from large and distant cities, instead opting to support sustainable, local businesses. This also helps to preserve the surrounding environment by decreasing the resulting traffic flow as much as possible. Along these same lines, our jungle lodge uses water from the nearby Torrenteer Waterfall and its numerous streams. The water is channeled from the source into a holding tank and then passes through a filter and a UV purifier before flowing into the Lodge.

Waste removal is also an extremely important issue, especially in areas like the Mashpi Reserve, which already suffers from illegal mining, logging, and deforestation. Mashpi Lodge recycles, composts, and effectively disposes of its wastewater, thanks to a modern and biological wastewater treatment plant. This is how we significantly strive to reduce any potential harm to the surrounding ecosystems that may result from the presence of humans. Additionally, we have further worked to decrease waste production through the unique paths built for visitors. The trails that snake around the lodge and through the cloud forest are reinforced with small, recycled plastic crates.

mashpi lodge exterior view 1

Lastly, energy efficiency plays an important factor in determining the sustainability of an ecolodge and how well it complies with environmental standards. Ecuador has recently advanced its use of hydropower, and with its stunning mountain ranges and complex river systems, it has considerable potential to further implement this technology. Not far from Mashpi Lodge, one of the public hydroelectric plants generates electricity from the natural river system, eliminating the need to build an ecosystem-altering dam. The Lodge connects to the grid for its energy supply but continuously strives to reduce its use of energy on its premises—for example, nearly 100% percent of its facilities use energy-efficient light bulbs.

The design and structure of the lodge itself also play an important role in its energy efficiency. During its construction, the architectural design team opted to use the Emmedue technique, which employs specific materials that counteract hot summer temperatures and cooler winter temperatures. This allows the facility to maintain comfortable temperatures all year round without having to depend on external heating or cooling systems, something that is certainly important in a tropical area that sits so close to the equator!

3. Community Involvement

Mashpi Lodge has worked hard to cultivate an excellent relationship with the local community by supporting its economy and sharing knowledge about the surrounding ecosystem, encouraging sustainable practices and fostering a sense of pride for the environment. The people living close to Mashpi have historically devoted themselves to trade and agriculture, which is largely true to this day. Mashpi Lodge has worked hard to provide more opportunities for locals aside from resource exploitation, such as highly destructive illegal mining and logging, and slash-and-burn farming. Nearly 75% of Mashpi Lodge employees are from the local area, which not only boosts the local economy but provides an added bonus for guests—who better to teach you about Mashpi’s unique ecosystem than the people who have lived there for generations! The guides employed at Mashpi Lodge are extremely knowledgeable of the Reserve and the wildlife that lives there, and will eagerly share stories about the history of the location. In the Ecuadorian cloud forests, these stories are often intricately interwoven with the practices of the indigenous communities that have lived off the land for thousands of years, providing guests with rich and unique stories to share with those back home.

Guide teaches young visitor about the secrets of the forest.

Not to mention, Mashpi Lodge is highly unique in the sense that it has made its employees stakeholders of the business itself, providing them with a percentage of the Lodge’s earnings.

Mashpi Lodge works fervently to distinguish itself and provide its guests with an authentic experience in one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world. Visitors are welcome to relax in harmony with nature or actively explore its trails leading to natural pools and waterfalls, completely hidden from the exterior world and stresses of daily life. The warm, comfortable, and modern interior of the Lodge invite people of all ages to continue to expand their knowledge and understanding of nature as they live amidst this forest. Rest at ease in knowing that Mashpi Lodge strives to preserve the environment that it is a part of and minimize the ecological footprint that it leaves on the environment through its focus on research and conservation, together with its extensive work with the local community.


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<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">6</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/safe-cloud-forest-mashpi-lodge/"></div>Concerned about potential dangers in the cloud forest? You shouldn't be! Mashpi Lodge is a remarkably safe place to visit.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class="at-below-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.mashpilodge.com/blog/safe-cloud-forest-mashpi-lodge/"></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->