April 8, 2019 0

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">4</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url=""></div>A professional team of Naturalist Guides call upon ancestral knowledge to reveal the amazing biodiversity around Mashpi Lodge. Read on to find out more!<!-- 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=""></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


April 4, 2019 0

<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=""></div>Discover the wonders of the Mashpi Reserve and what makes it so special! In this blog, you'll find out about the unique location of the Reserve.<!-- 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=""></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


February 13, 2019 0

<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=""></div>Discover the wonders of Ecuador's Choco Bioregion from Mashpi Lodge! Learn about how to plan your stay at Mashpi with this blog.<!-- 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=""></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


January 7, 2019 0

<span class="rt-reading-time" style="display: block;"><span class="rt-label rt-prefix">Reading Time: </span> <span class="rt-time">8</span> <span class="rt-label rt-postfix">minutes</span></span> <div class="at-above-post-cat-page addthis_tool" data-url=""></div>Located in the very center of one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, the Mashpi reserve is literally teeming with life, hosting thousands of plant and animal species.<!-- 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=""></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


November 19, 2018 2

<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=""></div>Traveling to Mashpi Lodge is a decidedly unique experience. There’s so much to see during the three-and-a-half hour trip that it is often hard to take it all in. To top it off, despite the generally good conditions of the road itself, it curves down and along the Andes like a snake chasing its fleeting prey! But what is the ride to Mashpi really like? <!-- 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=""></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Related Posts generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->


August 24, 2018 1
Reading Time: 7 minutes

A family vacation at Mashpi Lodge is all about learning!

As the large, wooden gates at the front entrance of Mashpi Lodge swing open and your transfer vehicle rolls in, it’s hard not to be instantly impressed by the freshness of it all: dense foliage drooping with enormous leaves, miniature waterfalls cascading gently beside the road, and the recurring calls of the wild. All of these elements (and countless more) completely surround you within a matter of seconds of going in.

It’s no small wonder, then, that families often refer to this initial moment at Mashpi Lodge as “the Jurassic Park moment” – a mysterious threshold that sees our guests completely intrigued to find out just what, exactly, lies beyond those big, mysterious gates. And those initial 5 minutes upon entering the reserve serve as nothing more than a “red carpet” for what awaits at the end of the gravel road – a modern and elegant structure one would never expect to find in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest. And yet there it sits, with its doors wide open.

Welcome to Mashpi Lodge: A one-of-a-kind rainforest hotel in Ecuador that offers the Ultimate Family Vacation. Follow along in this blog as we have a look at what activities we have in store for you and your family, should you choose to come visit us!

Family-friendly activities at Mashpi

Activities for young children

Bringing the young ones to Mashpi Lodge is an absolutely ingenious idea: What better way to expose your kid(s) to the wonders of the natural world than right here, in this pristine rainforest?

Mashpi Lodge is ideal for all ages

At Mashpi Lodge, as soon as you step outside each morning, you and your family will have something to admire, touch and learn about. Together with your loved ones, you can opt to swing from the sturdy vines, play in the gentle creeks, or point out the insects and animals that inhabit the area. Our guides have plenty of experience designing guided tours for families and their children, so you can rest assured that they’ll be focused on providing everyone with a fun and rewarding experience of the Mashpi reserve.

The Mashpi Life Center is an incredible place for young children. Here, families will get to experience the lifecycle of butterflies in real time, watching as this magnificent creature emerges from its chrysalis. Mashpi also has a working laboratory where young children are invited to explore and draw during a creative workshop.

TIP: When bringing younger children that are under the age of three or four, it’s a good idea to bring along a “baby carrier pack” in case they get tired while exploring. Doing so will allow you to comfortably carry them along while you continue exploring the forest trails.

Have you heard about our Mashpi Rangers Adventure?

Fun & Sustainability come together with our Mashpi Rangers activities.

Always keeping in mind that the future of our planet is in the hands of the next generation, Mashpi Lodge invites young explorers (from the ages of 6 and up) to partake in our Young Mashpi Rangers activities!

During their stay at Mashpi Lodge, our young guests are invited to learn about how to explore the forest like true experts, all with the guidance of our Naturalist Guides. Here’s a look at some of the activities that our Young Mashpi Rangers will get to experience with this program:

  • How to mimic the sounds of birds by using tree leaves.
  • How to use wildlife guides to identify animals, insects, and different types of plants.
  • Tutorials on how to safely explore the forest.
  • How to create camouflage for hats using natural resources, so as to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
  • Guided excursions to nearby waterfalls and ponds, night walks, visits to the Life Center and butterfly garden, rides on the Sky Bike, and much more!

At the end of their stay, each of our Young Mashpi Rangers will receive their very own certificate that recognizes the new skills they’ve acquired with these activities!

So relax and feel proud as your kids enjoy these enriching and insightful activities that will help them deepen their understanding, love, and passion for the preservation of their natural surroundings.

If you’d like to inquire or receive more information about this program, please ask our Destination Experts.

Activities for kids at Mashpi

Activities for older children

What sets Mashpi apart from other lodges is the fact that is has several different rides and activities that allow guests to experience the cloud forest in a number of different ways. The following activities are ideal for slightly older children.


The Sky Bike

Riding the Sky Bike is like riding a tandem bicycle through the jungle canopy. It has room for up to two passengers, meaning you can accompany your child if you wish. As you take a ride on the Sky Bike, you’ll get an unparalleled bird’s-eye view of the cloud forest as well as the rivers and gorges below. Depending on how fast you pedal, the ride takes around 10 minutes to get from point A to point B, which are 200 m (655 feet) apart.

Note: Children must be at least 1 meter (3 feet) high to ride the Sky Bike.

Family activities in Ecuador

The Dragonfly

The Dragonfly gondola ride is often times seen as one of the biggest highlights of a Family Vacation at Mashpi Lodge. The Dragonfly consists of an open-air cable car that, on average, glides some 200 meters (656 feet) above the forest floor. Guests are taken across 2 kilometers (over 1 mile) of forest, bringing them within arms-length of the canopy itself at certain points!

Dragonfly Canopy Gondola in the Mashpi Reserve

Night Walks

Night walks are thrilling for everyone, but perhaps even more so for young explorers. Under the cover of night, guests are treated to an entirely different group of animals that only come out at night. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll definitely want to get that flashlight and camera ready to snap some shots of nocturnal snakes, tarantulas, frogs and glow-in-the-dark fungus, all of it in the company of one of our fantastic Naturalist Guides that have remarkable night vision!


Mashpi Laboratory

For the aspiring biologists in your family, our working Laboratory is an exciting place to hang out in. Here, children are invited to examine a wide variety of animal specimens collected from the reserve and can even investigate the structure of butterfly wings through a microscope.

A visit to the lab is also an opportunity to meet Mashpi’s resident scientists who are continually working on projects to learn more about the lives of the plants and animals that inhabit the reserve.

Activities for kids in the cloud forest at Mashpi Lodge

Creative Art Projects

For our young guests with an artistic flair, Mashpi offers activities like painting and printing designs on t-shirts. The kids are sure to find inspiration in the surrounding natural beauty of the lodge and won’t have a hard time getting those creative juices flowing!

Getting creative in the forest

Activities for teenagers at Mashpi Lodge

In addition to all the aforementioned activities, teenagers that are looking to take a break from their remarkable surroundings will be pleased to know that there’s several options available for simple relaxation, too. From a soothing dip in the hot tub, an invigorating stretch on the yoga deck or a delicious SPA treatment (that’s sure to ease those worries away!), Mashpi Lodge will not disappoint. Teenagers are also free to lounge out at any one of the numerous, comfortable nooks throughout the Lodge and enjoy a book or browse the web with our high-speed complimentary Wi-Fi.

All-in-all, the number and variety of activities for families at Mashpi Lodge provides a well-rounded experience that is sure to put a smile on the faces of both kids and adults alike. We are proud of the fact that, at Mashpi Lodge, every member of the family will get to participate in something that, regardless of age, will inspire a child-like excitement for the natural wonders of the Ecuadorian rainforest, right here at this one-of-a-kind eco-lodge!

So, are you ready to give your family the gift of adventure? Make your reservation at Mashpi Lodge today by clicking here!


June 22, 2018 0

Reading Time: 8 minutes

This is one adventure that’s not off limits: Mashpi Lodge, the Ecuador eco lodge where everyone, whether they are young or old, bird-lovers or honeymooners, looking for soothing relaxation or intrepid adventure, can experience the magic of the forest.

There are plenty of accessible activities for the elderly or for those with limited mobility, plus stimulating, hands-on activities for teenagers and kids. Honeymooners and the romantically-inclined are in for a treat with dreamy views, special surprises and luxurious touches. And though the most adventurous will have met their match in the challenging and thrilling geography of the reserve, those wishing simply to relax, revive and replenish their energies will find sanctuary in the secluded, magical forest, where the air is so rich in oxygen that you leave your escape feeling totally renewed. On top of all that, this Ecuador eco lodge is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

In short: Mashpi Lodge has something for all. Read on to find out how we can make your trip to the Ecuadorian cloud forest a truly unforgettable experience.


Mashpi Lodge for the Elderly and for those with Poor Mobility

Returning from an expedition at the Ecuador eco lodge

Mashpi Lodge might feel like it’s a million miles away from civilisation, but that doesn’t mean that it’s inaccessible. Arriving at the cloud forest sanctuary is a straight-forward (if occasionally bumpy), three-hour drive from Quito in the lodge’s transportation – no uncomfortable canoe rides here! Furthermore, of all the Ecuador eco lodges it is the least rustic, offering fabulously modern comforts in a setting that’s both safe and stylish. There’s even a doctor on call 24 hours should anything go wrong.

While many of Mashpi’s activities require guests to delve into the forest, ankle deep in mud and clamber up and down steep inclines, the enchantment of the reserve can be enjoyed without leaving the main building of the hotel. Encased head-to-toe in glass, the lodge allows guests views of the trees, palms, rolling hills and swooping clouds at every turn. Beyond the lodge, many of the reserve’s highlights are easily accessible, so it’s still possible to spot hundreds of birds, animals and flowers, listen to the sounds and inhale the scents of the forest without pushing any physical limits.

Depending on your level of mobility (which will be assessed on arrival together with our expert guides), there are many nearby sites that can be accessed in a car or with the help of the ever-patient guides who provide breathe-taking jungle experiences.

The most remarkable of these is the Dragonfly, a cable car that glides soundlessly over 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) of the canopy, passing by fabulous flora, beautiful birds, and over the rivers and waterfalls of this tropical paradise. There’s also the Life Centre, an attractive wooden building with a handsome deck and comfortable seating, where you can happily while away hours watching toucans and tanagers come to feed and the clouds moving mysteriously over the forest.

There are myriad other short walks and expeditions into the reserve, accompanied by guides who can lend a hand (or an arm) should you tire – our programs are ultra-flexible and almost anything is possible!


Mashpi Lodge for Children

With its myriad shades of green, whispering mists, giant leaves, rushing rivers and technicoloured tropical birds, the 2,500-hectare (6,177-acre) private Mashpi reserve is utterly mind-boggling for any adult – imagine what the Ecuador eco lodge is like through the eyes of a child. But no matter your age, this isn’t just a natural fairground or a jungle pleasure park: Mashpi is a place to learn, transform, grow and a place for families to bond as they do so.

In the working laboratory children can learn about the complexity of nature, studying leaves and butterfly wings under a microscope. At the Life Centre they can watch the life cycle of caterpillars to butterflies in dazzling real time. And from our tremendous, experienced and passionate guides they can discover a world of beautiful birds and amazing animals, understanding the importance of protecting wildlife through the guides’ own fascinating transformation stories from environmentally-damaging hunters, loggers and farmers to wholehearted conservationists.

Myriad adventures await out in the reserve, from swinging through the jungle, Tarzan-style, on a sturdy vine, to cycling across the forest on the Sky Bike or spotting creepy crawlies on night walks. You never need worry about your child asking too many questions – our guides love nothing more than to share their vast knowledge with curious youngsters. What’s more, if little ones tire during walks and expeditions, it’s all in a day’s work for our sturdy and patient guides to sling them on their back and carry them until they’ve regained their strength.

Within our Ecuador eco lodge, creative activities can be arranged like leaf and t-shirt painting, so that your children go home with their own hand-made souvenir. Older children and teens will be relieved to know that there’s good Wifi around the lodge and a big screen TV to watch nature documentaries. Let us know in advance and we can arrange special tasks with the resident scientist, helping out in the laboratory with the camera traps or other conservation projects.


Mashpi Lodge for Relaxation

A relaxing massage at the Ecuador eco lodge

There’s nothing like getting away from it all to get away from it all. And in its own 2,500-hectare (6,177-acre) private forest reserve at 950 meters, (3,117 feet) above sea level, Mashpi is in a world of its own. For such beautiful seclusion there’s no price to pay: no limited electricity hours, no bug bites, no cold-water showers – this Ecuador eco lodge is pure comfort and relaxation.

There are dozens of comfy nooks and crannies around the Ecuador eco lodge building in which to curl up with a book, gaze out onto the endless primary and secondary forests coating the undulating hills, listen to the calls of exotic creatures and contemplate the meaning of life as the clouds flow over the canopy.

Walking out into the forest is a peaceful, meditative experience, the leaves and the mud and rustle of creatures immersing you in a cocoon of calm. Cross a river or hike to a waterfall and the chill factor ramps up to high: the rush of water produces negative ions which are said to improve the mood and even produce a euphoria-like state.

The same can be said for a ride aboard the Dragonfly, a cable car drifting 2km across the forest canopy, inviting dreamlike contemplation as you glide unhurriedly along the treetops, eye to eye with the rarest beasts who inhabit this unknown part of the jungle.

If, however, you like your relaxation closer to home, lwook no further than the brand-new SAMAY spa, where the steaming Jacuzzi, soothing massages and yoga mats and studios are available for guests.


End the day with a comforting glass of Argentinian Malbec from the extensive wine list or a deliciously-named Golden Tanager cocktail or Ornate Rainfrog Mojito at the bar, pleasantly full from a fresh, three-course dinner which can be as indulgent or as wholesome as you choose.


Mashpi Lodge for Romance


Everyone knows that an orange-pink sunset is romantic. But watch that sunset unfurl over a vast, steaming forest from an eight-storey  high observation towersound-tracked by whooping howler monkeys and calling tropical birds, the flash of lightning cracking across the horizon, and the pure, undiluted romance of it is almost unbearable. Whether you’re celebrating a honeymoon or seeking to reconnect with a long-term partner, Mashpi is one of the best Ecuador eco lodges for those seeking a bit of romance in the wild.

A romantic breakfast at the Ecuador eco lodge

It’s not just the ultra-comfortable beds, the stunning views, the atmospheric dinners and intimate seclusion that kindle passion. It’s the unexpected extras and delightful surprises: the private picnic and red wine awaiting at the end of the Dragonfly cable car, the splendid breakfast laid out at the Life Centre, the massage by the waterfall and the steaming towels and drinks on returning from a night walk.


It goes without saying that our lodge includes a Jacuzzi, massages, an indulgent menu (with chocolate!) and cocktails aplenty – the cornerstones of a magical honeymoon.


Mashpi Lodge for Adventurers

The intrepid Sky Bike at the Ecuador eco lodge

It’s almost impossible to avoid adventure at Mashpi Lodge: merely staring out of your bedroom window at the Ecuador eco lodge into the awesome, 2,500-hectare (6,177-acre) expanse of the Chocó cloud forest is an intrepid undertaking. But if watching from behind the glass pane is too pedestrian for your taste, there are plenty of ways to ramp up the adventure factor.

Take a ride on Sky Bike for an ET experience with a difference: 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.

Hike through rivers, soaking up to your thighs as you follow the course of the great bodies of water, scrambling over boulders and dams and spotting the shocking blue of the morpho butterfly.

Embark on an audacious trek past the Dragonfly’s Tower Five, scaling slippery rock faces to discover hard-to-reach waterfalls. You could also trek the tough trail to the community of Mashpi, meet locals and discover more about their ways of life.

One walk from the Ecuador eco lodge that is reserved for the truly plucky (and somewhat mad) is the search for the cock on the rock. Rising far before the sun, the hike takes you off piste, deep into the forest, crossing rivers and wading knee-high in thick mud before coming to a “lek” – the place where the males of these highly unusual birds come to impress females with a jaunty song and a dance. For the truly adventurous (and fit) this is an unmissable expedition.


Mashpi Lodge for Birdwatchers

Birdwatching at the Ecuador eco lodge

Mashpi is to birdwatchers what Memphis is to Elvis fans: a hallowed ground. The Ecuador eco lodge has one of the most astounding arrays of birds on the planet, with some 400 species that can be spotted from the hotel’s terrace alone – around 35 are registered as endemic. Each morning before breakfast, we host a Wildlife Observation Workshop: accompanied by expert guides with bird books and telescopes, it’s possible to spot a litany of these wonderful creatures – before you’ve even changed out of your pyjamas!

In this natural paradise, you can catch a glimpse of easy-to-spot species like tanagers, euphonies, toucans, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, trogons, owls and birds of prey.

However, as well as the easy and common species, Mashpi is also inhabited by some very rare and shy birds, like the banded ground-cuckoo which is endemic to the Chocó and is threatened due to deforestation (a problem that today affects many species of flora and fauna). Another bird that few have the privilege to spot is the umbrella bird – also vulnerable, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to the destruction of its habitat and the pressure of hunting. So rare is this species that many aspects of its evolution and ecology remain unknown.

At Mashpi, the Ecuador eco lodge of birders’ dreams, we not only have the most splendid species, but the specialists to help you find them and to explain the idiosyncrasies of each toucan, tanager and trogon. From years of experience, these keen-eyed expert guides can spot the tail feathers of a rare species from miles’ away, recognise and imitate their song, and lead you right to the nesting and mating places of some of the most extraordinary and rare creatures, like the long-wattled umbrellabird. Let us know beforehand if it’s birds you’re keen to see, and we can team you up with the best guide for you.

What are you waiting for? Mashpi Lodge is for you! To find out how we can tailor your experience to your needs, contact us at


June 14, 2018 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mashpi prides itself on providing guests with a totally immersive experience into the forest. The architecture and design of all infrastructure, including that of the restaurant, places the forest front and centre in all that you see. Mashpi attempts to do the same with its food, inspired by traditional Ecuadorian food culture and international gastronomy.

Mashpi restaurant

“Originally we wanted to grow our own food,” says Marc Bery, the lodge’s general manager, “but the soil is just too damp. It’s very complicated to grow anything besides heart of palm.” Instead, Mashpi works with locally-sourced ingredients, such as the sugar cane that grows around Pacto and is used in recipes as unrefined sugar.

Once the team had realized that they couldn’t grow fruit and vegetables, they turned their attention to cultivating herbs and spices from the forest itself. “Although we would never eat any of the animals that live in the forest, we wanted to transmit the essence of the environment through our food, bringing the consistencies and colours of the forest to the dish,” Marc explains.

This process wasn’t without complications however, as it required a highly experienced team of local plant experts to avoid poisonous or dangerous plants. This combination of biology and culinary skills is something that is in constant development at the cloudforest lodge. Two of the spices currently used are mountain garlic and chillagua herb (a relative of cilantro).

The menu at Mashpi reflects elements of local dishes combined with international delicacies, giving guests a sense of comfort combined with the exotic ingredients typical of Ecuador’s food culture. To reflect its location in the lush forest that leads from the Andes to the coast, elements of both regions can be found on the menu. From the traditional Andean locro de papa (a traditional creamy soup that’s often prepared and served to warm the soul) to the tropical maito de pescado (fish cooked in banana leaf typical of coastal areas). When you are booking, don’t be afraid to include any dietary requirements in your reservation, as the kitchen will gladly prepare food specially accommodating your needs.

Delicious seafood

The passion and precision of the kitchen staff at Mashpi is evident in the presentation of their dishes. Perfectly poised meat, fish and vegetables are complemented by delicate designs made from sauces and garnishes. The restaurant team’s sincere service – most of which hail from local communities – can often make meals the highlight of any day at the lodge, conveying Ecuador’s food culture to visitors who might not have been aware of its existence before their trip.

The restaurant also offers a fine wine list, designed especially to compliment the dishes presented by the kitchen. Focusing on Latin American wines mostly from Chile and Argentina (though a growing industry, locally produced wine is not a major feature in Ecuador’s food culture), the list compiles a bottle for every occasion.

The cocktail menu, envisioned to reflect the forest and its inhabitants, has delicious names such as the Golden Tanager, or the Ornate Rainfrog Mojito. Created by their in-house mixologists, these cocktails are the perfect accompaniment to mingling with other guests at the guides’ happy hour which takes place daily at 6:30p.m. at the bar.

Golden Tanager

The restaurant itself is an architectural masterpiece and somehow makes the food taste even better. Picture being inside a cocoon, totally surrounded by rainforest, but sheltered from the elements by high-glass walls on either side.

“The protagonist of everything we do here is the forest,” explains Marc, “we want people to be totally immersed in our ecosystem with each of their senses. Seeing and hearing the forest is provided through the restaurant’s architecture, smelling and tasting the forest is provided through our cuisine. All-in-all, this helps in bringing our guests that much closer to the forest.”

wonderfully decorated dishes.


May 18, 2018 1
Reading Time: 9 minutes

“There are other wonderful properties in the Nat Geo Unique Lodges of the World Collection that are also in rainforests, but there is only one Mashpi, and that is the point.”

There are some hidden corners of the planet – rainforests, desert islands, great mountains and crumbling homes of ancient civilisations – whose existence is unknown to all but the very few.

Places where nature dominates, where wildlife flourishes, and landscapes roll uninterrupted.

It is in these secret enclaves that you will find the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, hotels that invite guests to stay in some of the most cherished places on Earth.

But these lodges offer a travel experience with a difference: rather than rendering guests passive bystanders, each one allows them to lend a hand in safeguarding these unique environments for future generations, just as the lodges themselves strive to protect their one-of-a-kind surroundings. Journeys to hotels like Ecuador eco lodge Mashpi Lodge have the power to change guests’ worldview, teach them something new, enrich their lives and inspire them to live a more sustainable existence.

Mashpi Forest

Cherry-picked by National Geographic through a stringent screening and assessment process, each lodge is chosen for its commitment to sustainable practices and to defending natural and cultural heritage. Lodges must adhere to National Geographic’s own core values: ‘authenticity, enrichment, and a dedication to preserving our planet’s diversity,’ and inspire guests ‘to connect with their destination in a meaningful way.’

You don’t need to know much about Mashpi to know that it ticks every one of these boxes, that it embodies every one of these principles, and that each of its staff shares this vision entirely. The ultra-modern eco lodge located in the Ecuadorian cloud forest doubles as a research station, carrying out invaluable work while providing a vital lifeline to local communities via sustainable employment. But above all, Mashpi Lodge offers an exceptional, intimate experience – one that moves and excites at every moment.


Q&A with Costas Christ, award-winning travel writer and editor at large of National Geographic Traveler magazine, and the inspector who added Mashpi Lodge to the National Geographic Unique Lodges collection.

How long have you been involved in National Geographic Unique Lodges? How did you become involved?

I have been an editor and travel writer with National Geographic for more than a decade and was also involved with the National Geographic Unique Lodges Collection from the very beginning – starting with the early concept stage to launching the program and helping it grow into what it is today – a global collection of some of the world’s best, most spectacular and sustainable places to stay in the world.

What is the first thing you look for when assessing a National Geographic Unique Lodge?

We look for three key characteristics: a beautiful property that embraces sense of place, outstanding guest services, and an active commitment to sustainable tourism best practices, including environmentally friendly operations, support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage, along with social and economic benefits to local people.

Why did you think that Mashpi was a good fit for National Geographic Unique Lodges?

The guest experiences at Mashpi are unique and special, including a small open air canopy cable car that allows guests to see an outstanding array of biodiversity in the Chocó rainforest; top ecotourism guides who are able to interpret nature in a fascinating and educational way from night walks and identifying nocturnal species, all the way to spotting amazing bird life that abounds in the area. Mashpi also works closely with local villagers who were former timber harvesters and that today make their livelihood from ecotourism. Of course, there are other attributes, such as great food and friendly staff.

Mashpi Dragonfly

What was it about Mashpi that made you say “Wow!”?

The Chocó Rainforest, where Mashpi is located, is a global biodiversity hotspot. If you are a lover of nature, as I am, the Chocó is a complete “wow.”

Which part of your stay at Mashpi would you like to repeat?

All of it.

 Is there a National Geographic Unique Lodge in another part of the world that reminds you of Mashpi?

Each of the Nat Geo Lodges are very unique in their own way. We selected them because of their special individual characteristics and guest experiences. There are other wonderful properties in the Nat Geo Unique Lodges of the World Collection that are also in rainforests, but there is only one Mashpi, and that is the point.

What Makes Mashpi a Unique Lodge?

Each Unique Lodge is reviewed based on its adherence to the pillars of sustainable tourism: protection of natural heritage, support for local communities, and environmentally friendly practices. Here’s how Mashpi does all three.


Protection of natural heritage

The 2,500 hectares (6,177 acres) of land that make up Mashpi Lodge’s reserve was bought by the Ecuador eco lodge’s founder, former mayor of Quito Roque Sevilla, back in 2001. He didn’t purchase it explicitly with tourism in mind, but rather to protect the biodiversity hotspot from deforestation. Home to approximately 15-17% of the world’s plant species and nearly 20% of its bird diversity, the Chocó cloud forests have exponentially diminished in the last few decades due to indiscriminate logging and agriculture.

After buying the land, Sevilla sought the help of Resident Biologist Carlos Morochz to discover what wildlife was hidden among the dense primary forests and to develop programs of reforestation and conservation. Carlos set about monitoring wildlife with camera traps, a project which has allowed the now numerous onsite science team to spot endangered creatures like tigrillos, armadillos and pumas.

Partnerships with universities and researchers have revealed yet more surprises: endemic species such as the Mashpi Frog and Mashpi Magnolia were discovered and described. By staying at this Ecuador eco lodge, not only are you contributing to protecting these marvellous cloud forests, but you are invited to experience them for yourself, be it by trekking through the trees, meeting the team of scientists and soaring over the canopy in the Dragonfly cable car.

Support for local communities

Around 90% of Mashpi’s warm and exceptional staff come from the local communities surrounding the reserve, sometimes even several members of the same family who would otherwise be involved in logging or in damaging agricultural projects like harvesting palm-hearts.

The benefit of this is three-fold: Communities gain from steady and stable employment. Conservation around the region is boosted as locals are inspired to become more sustainable and to see that a greater, more prosperous future lies in protecting their environment rather than destroying it. And, guests’ experiences at the Ecuador eco lodge are enriched by the vast and captivating knowledge of the local guides, some of whom used to hunt and log the same forests that they now seek so passionately to protect.

Environmentally-friendly practices

From its very conception, Mashpi Lodge has been as environmentally responsible as possible –  the Ecuador eco lodge was recognised for its efforts when it was named South America’s Leading Green Hotel in the World Travel Awards 2017.

Even during the construction of the magnificent modern hotel building, not a single tree was felled as the Ecuador eco lodge was built on the site of an old sawmill (the team even managed to build the entire Dragonfly gondola without touching the trees.) The pre-assembled metal framing of the hotel meant that minimal concrete was used in construction, leaving a lighter impact on the surroundings. The extraordinary architecture, all floor-to-ceiling windows and fantastic vantage points, was designed to blend into and complement the extraordinary environment – rather than compete with it.

There are plenty of challenges in running a top-class Ecuador eco lodge isolated in the heart of the cloud forest, but every logistical test has been met with the same sustainable ethos, always seeking the least invasive option: the chef incorporates local ingredients like wild garlic into the menu; rooms are fitted with eco-friendly bathroom products; recycling is obligatory; rainwater is collected; and Mashpi is powered by hydroelectricity.


A Sense of Place

To know that Mashpi is an Ecuador eco lodge that applies environmentally friendly practices, researches and protects its biodiverse environment while supporting its local community is one thing. But to stand beneath the gush of its waterfalls, to watch the sunset over the forest from the lookout tower, to taste the amazing cuisine and to feel the universal warmth and kindness of its staff, content in the knowledge that your presence is not damaging but helping to protect this extraordinary place – that is the true meaning of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.


Other Lodges

Mashpi Lodge is proud to share the Unique Lodges banner with some of the most extraordinary hotels in the world, as diverse as they are exceptional. What they all have in common is a commitment to social and environmental responsibility, jaw-dropping beauty and an ability to transform the way that guests see the world.

 Here are some of our favourites, across three different continents.


Capella Lodge

The dazzling location of this Unique Lodge at first bears little resemblance to that of Mashpi, the Ecuador eco lodge in the Chocó cloud forest. Perched on a hilltop overlooking perfect white beaches, deep blue seas and aquamarine lagoons, its rugged mountains tower imperiously over it all. But what it does have in common with Mashpi is that it too is an unexpected secret, a sanctuary of comfort in a wild and astonishing environment.

Like Mashpi Lodge, Capella Lodge’s architecture does not aim to compete with its natural surroundings (how could it?) but to complement it. Huge windows create maximum contact with this tremendous landscape, while bikes and kayaks are available to guests to immerse themselves in the surroundings.

Two-thirds of seven-mile Lord Howe Island is national park and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988; the protected status means that much of the often endemic wildlife is unafraid of humans and it boasts one of the richest assortments of birds in Australia. Green practices and a cap on how many tourists may be on the island at any one time are ways in which Capella Lodge strives to protect the natural heritage, making it the embodiment of everything the Unique Lodges of the World stand for.


Kasbah Du Toubkal

Way up in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, the Kasbah Du Toubkal is proof that National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World do not only stand for protection of stunning natural heritage, but also for safeguarding astounding cultural legacy. The retreat on the edge of the Toubkal National Park, presided over by the tallest mountain in North Africa, is an authentic homage to Berber culture. It is a welcome pit stop to hikers exploring the rugged mountain range, allowing them to experience local culture and hospitality.

The 14-room boutique hotel was transformed from its crumbling ruins by a magnificent team effort by villagers and artisans united in lugging local rocks and other materials up the mountainside. It is this aspect of the hotel’s history that engrains it into its community – and its community into its very fibres. When leaving the rock sanctuary, guests can ride a mule into town and around the spectacular landscapes, just like locals and their forbearers have done for time immemorial.

Founded by two British brothers in 1989, Kasbah Du Toubkal has a keen sense of social responsibility, funding non-profit Education for All giving girls from the rural region a sound education.


Hotel Húsafell

Away from the beautiful coast of Iceland, heading inland over landscapes forged by ice and lava from the island’s famous volcanoes, are jewels far off the beaten track. One of these, at the end of the Borgarfjordur Valley, is Hotel Húsafell, a peaceful sanctuary of Nordic stylishness. Here, the stripped-back elegance of glass walls and contemporary furnishings are here to play second fiddle to the undulating hills, the freezing rivers and the snow-capped summits of its surroundings.

This is a place where the seasons make a turn towards the surreal: where a midnight sun is the perfect light under which to play golf and the Northern Lights are a winter night’s entertainment. And in spite of the cold, it’s always a good time to go swimming in steaming thermal pools warmed by underground volcanic streams.

This is a family-run business that strives to keep Nordic cultures and traditions alive, while celebrating the incredible natural world that sculpted an equally exceptional human history.

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