What’s the Weather like at Mashpi Lodge? Seasons, Species, Tips and more!


Surrounded by towering waterfalls, soaring exotic trees, and seemingly unending, countless tones of green, Mashpi Lodge is located in the very heart of Ecuador´s Choco cloud forest, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. While watching breathtaking videos and looking at beautiful pictures of Mashpi, it quickly becomes evident that it is sometimes sunny, often cloudy, and occasionally raining. So what is the weather really like at Mashpi? Seemingly a simple question, it´s not quite as straightforward as you might think.

What is the weather like on an average day at Mashpi?

When you visit Mashpi, you quickly realize that there is nothing “average” about the Lodge or the reserve. However, there are some general weather patterns that are more common than others. In the early morning, the weather in Mashpi is usually cloudy around the lodge, with fog rolling in and around the trees and vegetation, significantly reducing visibility. This doesn’t mean that you can´t see birds and animals, though! In fact, birdwatching at daybreak is one of the absolutely best times to see a tremendous variety of species – and not just birds! There are often different mammals poking around Mashpi Lodge in early hours, making for a thrilling, real-life “Where´s Waldo?” search for wildlife before breakfast!

The fog lifts by mid-morning and the sun starts to shine through the clouds, bathing the Choco cloud forest in sunshine. The sun stays out until early afternoon, when clouds start to move in once again, blanketing the forest in shade. There is often a short shower in the afternoon, and once it stops raining it normally clears up again, although it just as often continues to rain softly into the evening. After sunset, at around 7 p.m., the fog starts to roll in, delicately enveloping Mashpi Lodge until morning.

The coldest it gets at Mashpi Lodge is 64 °F (18 °C), while the warmest it gets is 77 °F (25 °C)which is an average difference of just 15 degrees Fahrenheit (around 7 degrees Celsius)An average annual temperature of 73 °F (23 °C).

Are there seasons at Mashpi?

While Mashpi does not have four clearly marked seasons like many places around the world, it does have two main seasons: the dry season (more aptly referred to as the “less rainy” season) and the rainy season. The dry season runs from the beginning of June through to the beginning of November, but it certainly is not dry in the traditional sense of the word! However, it is more common to experience days where there is more sun and spectacular sunsets during these months. The rest of the year, from November through to the end of May, is the accurately named the rainy season. The rainy season in Ecuador peaks in February, then enters a transition period running from mid-April until the end of May. During this transition period, guests can expect clear mornings followed by intermittent showers that come and go until around midnight.

The rainy season triggers the blooming season at Mashpi, which starts in February and runs through to May. While the cloud forest is particularly beautiful during this time of the year, it’s worth noting that our bird feeders (up at our Humming Bird Garden) may not be as frequented by the hundreds of bird species living at Mashpi, due to the simple fact that there are simply more natural sources of nourishment available to them. The fruit season runs from July to September, so in very general terms, there is a better chance of seeing slightly more wildlife during this period.

What species of birds, mammals, reptiles, etc. can you see throughout the year, and what species are seasonal at Mashpi?

Nearly all species found at Mashpi, including all endemic species, can be seen year-round in the reserve. There are a few migratory bird species that visit Mashpi during North American winters (November through to May), the populations of which tend to peak in February, coinciding with the rainiest month of the year in the Mashpi reserve.

mashpi migratory birds table

Is there a best time of year to visit Mashpi?

Mashpi is an utterly enchanting place for ecotourism in Ecuador all year round! In all truth, wildlife is quite unpredictable, and there’s no way to say that at a certain time of year you will or will not see endemic birds or animal species. For bird watchers, though, the best time of the year to visit is February because of the presence of migratory birds. However, if you are more interested in encountering species that are endemic to the Choco cloud forest, Mashpi can be visited any day of the year!

What can I do if it’s raining in the morning?

The answer to this question is simple, but it really depends on your definition of rain. At Mashpi, sometimes it rains, and sometimes it really RAINS! The motto at Mashpi is “The rain will delay us, but it will not stop us,” so the normal course of action is to wait a little while for the rain to subside and then head outside for the activities that are planned for that day. On the rare occasion that there is a torrential downpour in the morning that doesn’t give any indication that it will subside, guests can simply choose to relax, use the hot tub, visit the Samay Wellness Center for a single or couples massage, play one of a large collection of board games, or attend a talk given by one of our naturalist guides.

Every so often it does, in fact, rain all day. Nevertheless, activities still go on because it never rains hard throughout the day. On days like this, hikes focus more on the incredible plant life of Mashpi rather than on wildlife sightings. When it´s raining, a visit to the Life Center, Hummingbird Garden, or Laboratory is recommended because they are covered. The Life Center, especially, has several activities that visitors can enjoy under the protection of a roof, including a butterfly sanctuary, a research center, and a stunning orchid display, many of which have been brought in straight from the cloud forest within the last few days. The Life Center also has a covered deck with amazing panoramic views, so as soon as the rain stops and the sun starts to peek through the clouds, it is the perfect place to be with a telescope and a set of binoculars! As soon as it stops raining, species of all kinds tend to be more active, so birds and animals are easier than ever to spot right after the rainfall.

Finally the Laboratory, located between the Lodge and the Life Center, makes for a fascinating visit on a rainy day. Drawers upon drawers of butterfly, beetle, and wasp species line the walls, as well as several other peculiar insects that make the cloud forest their home. The deeply knowledgeable biologists are delighted to give detailed descriptions of each species and show them to visitors under the professional-grade microscopes on hand. In few words, there are different activities to adapt to the weather changes at Mashpi Lodge.

life center cloud forest

What wildlife can you see when it´s raining?

When it´s really pouring, most of the wildlife at Mashpi usually hides, but when it is raining hummingbirds are even more active than usual. One theory behind this increase in activity is that rainwater dilutes the sugar content in flowers, leading hummingbirds to drink more to get the same amount of sugar that they need for sustenance. Being that rainwater doesn´t get into the hummingbird feeders, though, it doesn’t dilute the sugary nectar prepared for them, so more of them are actually found at the feeders when it´s raining than when it’s not!

One important aspect to bear in mind is that when it is raining at night, it is much more difficult to see nocturnal species, so night walks are normally postponed until the next night for when it is (hopefully) not raining. The astonishing part of a night walk is to see the Mashpi reserve literally come alive before your eyes with countless species that you are simply unable to see during the day. However, when it is raining, those species remain sheltered from the rain, so the walks are put off until the rain subsides.

What activities do you recommend for a hot day, such as when the sun’s out?

Given its location right in the middle of the world’s most biodiverse cloud forest (situated 950 meters above sea level), Mashpi never gets particularly hot or cold. However, the heat of the sun is accentuated by the extremely high level of humidity in the forest year-round. The coldest it gets at Mashpi Lodge is 64 °F (18 °C), while the warmest it gets is 77 °F (25 °C), which is an average difference of just 15 degrees Fahrenheit (around 7 degrees Celsius). When the sun is shining and you feel like cooling off, the best destination is, by far, a waterfall! The Mashpi reserve hosts five main waterfalls, three of which have deep swimming holes full of refreshingly cool, crystal-clear water.

The closest waterfall to the lodge, Magnolia Falls, is also the easiest one to swim in. The volume of water pouring down the Falls is slightly lower than the other two waterfalls, making the pool a truly delightful and relaxing place for taking a dip on a hot day. To top it off, once you’ve finished swimming you can trek along the river downstream, splashing through the water and soaking in the amazing scenery until you get to Tower 4 of the Dragonfly, where you can catch a breathtaking ride back to the Lodge, soaring over the forest canopy as you return!

Waterfall San Vincente 2

Farther from Mashpi Lodge are the Healing Falls and the Glass Frog Falls. Healing Falls is by far the tallest waterfall of the three, but it also has the smallest pool to swim in. However, you can actually swim underneath the waterfall and sit on a sandbar behind it, allowing for a remarkable connection with nature’s healing powers. Glass Frog Falls, on the other hand, is a long hike from Mashpi, but is well worth the effort! Fed by a waterfall a little further upstream that is very difficult to access over land, the Glass Frog waterfall is a powerful display of nature, pouring hundreds of gallons of water per second over the rocks into the emerald-green pool below. While the sheer force at the base of the waterfall is formidable, the swim into the partially sheltered swimming hole is truly stunning.

On a sunny day in Mashpi, one activity that is best avoided is the full Dragonfly circuit. While the 360° views are breathtaking at any time, and potentially even more tempting when it is sunny, the sun is very hot and, due to Mashpi’s location on the equator (and thus its proximity to the sun), it burns very quickly! To get an amazing view of the Mashpi reserve, outlying communities, and some high-flying birds on a hot day, the Observation Tower is a better choice. You can climb up, take in the gorgeous panoramic views, and then simply climb down into the shade of the towering trees of the cloud forest. In fact, the Observation Tower is actually recommended for sunny days – otherwise, the surrounding areas will likely be covered in cloud and fog, significantly reducing visibility and blocking out the stunning views.

The Life Center is an excellent choice on a rainy day, but it is also a great option on a hot day. It´s an easy walk from the lodge to the Life Centre, and butterflies are always more active when it is warm out. That is why a visit to the Life Centre is often planned during the mornings when it is warmer rather than in the afternoons when the temperature tends to be a little lower.

In general terms, a day at Mashpi has a little of everything: sun, pouring rain, light rain, fog, cloud, and clear skies, with an average annual temperature of 73 °F (23 °C). There are activities to be done and species to see every step of the way regardless of the weather, so plan your trip around your own availability and schedule preferencesRegardless of the time of year, weather or date you visit, rest assured: you will undoubtedly witness the immense biodiversity and the living cloud forest in the Mashpi reserve. There is so much to see, so much to do, and so much to learn – Mashpi is simply awaiting for your arrival to reveal its extraordinarily unique natural treasures.

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