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
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
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 tower, sound-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.
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
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
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 [email protected]