Mashpi Lodge is a natural paradise, tucked away in one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth. Seemingly a world away from dangers, tropical diseases, and risks, its unique location, singular construction techniques, and highly trained and experienced personnel mean that safety at Mashpi Lodge always has been (and remains) one of our utmost priorities.
Mashpi’s weather and location protect guests from tropical diseases
Tropical diseases are virtually unheard of at Mashpi Lodge. Tropical diseases typically spread when an insect bites a person who already has the disease, then bites someone who does not. The local topography at Mashpi Lodge also helps in the sense that there is very little wind blowing in from other areas, so disease-carrying insects are not blown in from other regions. The little wind that is present is convective by nature – local winds caused by local temperature differences – which also acts as an additional shield, as this natural phenomenon keeps insects from other areas from being blown into the region.
When infected insects are not blown in, the risk of infection is virtually eliminated. Contrary to commonly held beliefs, monkeys and primates are not infected by the viruses that affect us and, as a result, they cannot transmit the diseases themselves. Additionally, Mashpi Lodge is located in the rugged foothills of the Andes and is surrounded by steep slopes, meaning there is very little sitting water in the area, minimizing the potential breeding grounds for mosquitos.
Mashpi is shielded from active volcanoes
Ecuador is full of towering, snow-capped peaks, some of which are considered active volcanoes. But the closest volcano to Mashpi Lodge, known as Pululahua Crater, is dormant, having last erupted more than 8,000 years ago. In fact, this crater happens to be a well-known visitor point along the route from Quito to Mashpi because of the spectacular views it offers visitors of its enormous caldera, and the fact that the rich soil lining the inner slopes of the caldera are covered in dozens of naturally occurring types of medicinal plants. The two volcanoes in Ecuador that have erupted more recently, Reventador and Tungurahua, are simply too far away from Mashpi Lodge to pose even the smallest of threats. Ditto for Cotopaxi, the iconic and towering, snow-capped volcano that is clearly visible from Quito, which also simply too far away from Mashpi to cause any considerable harm or impact. Guagua Pichincha, which last erupted in 1999, has a crescent-shaped caldera that points decidedly southwest, away from both Quito and from Mashpi Lodge.
While volcanoes in Ecuador do pose a potentially mild threat to different places around the country, Mashpi Lodge is certainly not one of them!
The Lodge is earthquake-resistant
Nestled between Colombia and Peru on the Pacific coast of South America, Ecuador is located close to the western edge of the Nazca plate. As the Nazca plate moves, it is slowly being pushed underneath the adjacent South American plate, leading to earthquakes and tremors. When Mashpi Lodge was designed and built, the occurrence of tremors and earthquakes was one of the most important considerations, leading the design team to implement a construction technique called Emmedue. Emmedue structures are particularly lightweight, meaning that they have a very low seismic mass while simultaneously remaining rigid due to the presence of two sheets of reinforced plaster that create a “shell” for the entire structure. Time and time again, Emmedue structures have been proven to withstand earthquakes far better than even conventional earthquake-resistant structures.
Unfortunately, heavy rains, tremors, and small earthquakes sometimes affect the access road running into and out of Mashpi, which is why the Lodge has a contract in place with a local Bobcat operator to keep the road free of small landslides. In the rare event that there’s debris on the road and/or the road-clearing operation takes more time than usual, Mashpi Lodge arranges for guests to be driven to the edge of the landslide where they walk across and board waiting vehicles on the other side. While this unexpected adventure could seem like a minor hindrance to some, it is commonplace in regions that have high precipitation levels, such as the Mashpi Reserve.
The wildlife at Mashpi is not aggressive
While the lush cloud forest that Mashpi Lodge is located in is literally teeming with life, there are no historic or current records of wildlife attacks in the area. Despite the rainforest being home to pumas, two different monkey species, vipers, and even tarantulas, they are incredibly shy creatures that are rarely seen, often preferring to watch us humans from afar! In fact, more than 80% of the snakes found in the rainforest around Mashpi Lodge are harmless “ribbons of joy!” And despite the fact that guests have never had an unfortunate encounter with wildlife, Mashpi Lodge keeps a full supply of anti-venom and other medical supplies on hand, just in case.
No giant bugs, spiders and/or other “surprises” will make their way into your room
Mashpi Lodge was designed to be minimalist and modern, providing a comfortable and spotless place – completely sealed from the outer world – for our guests to rest and relax at the end of each day of adventure. Contrary to many rustic rainforest hotels, Mashpi Lodge was originally conceptualized as a luxurious and comfortable place to unwind in the middle of one of the world’s most biodiverse, lush, and pristine places. The lodge was built to minimize its footprint and disturb as little as possible, while not allowing the jungle to come inside. Our guests can rest assured that, while inside Mashpi Lodge, they will never come face-to-face with the inhabitants of the rainforest!
There is no Colombian militia and crime present at Mashpi Lodge
Zero. Located nearly 120 kilometers (74 miles) from the Ecuador – Colombia border, Mashpi Lodge is far enough away to be completely unaffected by militia, guerillas, and organized criminal networks. Working closely with their Colombian counterparts, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces actively patrol and monitor the border, and recently received a boost of more than $100 million in funding to upgrade its military capacity along the northern border. While the government in years past shunned the aid offered by the US Armed Forces to patrol the skies, the incumbent government is currently working on an agreement to resume US military flights to help keep watch for illegal activities. The Lodge has even welcomed the US Secret Service and other security teams from around the world to survey and greenlight the premises for our distinguished guests!
There’s really nothing to worry about at Mashpi Lodge
Possibly the most reliable way of finding out about the “dangers” of Mashpi Lodge is simply by talking to the indigenous, local people who still live in the area. How do they answer this question? Surprisingly enough, the most common response is “falling trees and branches, if anything!” Most trees in the cloud forest are covered in vines that snake through the canopy to other trees, so when one falls, others tend to get pulled down with them. If you are walking along a path and a tree starts to fall, the vegetation is often so dense that you can only run forward or backward along the path, which is why this hazard, while often overlooked, is actually very real.
To minimize the risk of falling trees and branches while out on hikes around the Mashpi Lodge, any trees that were even slightly at risk of falling were promptly identified and then tethered using steel cables so that our guests can enjoy the wonders of the cloud forest without having to worry about something falling on their heads!
Whether our guests spend most of their time exploring the verdant cloud forest, riding the ingenious SkyBike, swimming in crystal-clear river pools, or just relaxing in the lodge, Mashpi is an inherently safe place to visit for the young and elderly alike.