Mashpi Lodge announced as member of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the world
Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge has become a Charter-Founding member of the National Geographic Society’s newest venture in travel experiences – the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. The collection brings together boutique hotels in extraordinary places, each with an unrivalled commitment to sustainability and authentic experiences.
Selected through a rigorous and extremely thorough evaluation process, Mashpi Lodge was selected on the basis that it offers an outstanding guest experience whilst continuing to support the protection of cultural and natural heritage, and embracing sustainable tourism practices. As part of the comprehensive vetting process, the lodges in the collection have been judged on their authenticity, efforts to celebrate the surrounding landscape, quality of guest experience and service as well as sustainable tourism practices.
Where is it? Mashpi Lodge is a fabulously designed, glass-walled eco-friendly property set in a 3,000-acre reserve at the heart of Ecuador’s mythical cloud forest.
What’s so special? This magical eco-lodge has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on to centuries-old trees dotted with flowering creepers. Rooms are beautifully decorated, with giant comfortable beds, and the lodge has its own restaurant, serving seasonal specialities. Don’t shy away from skybiking through the jungle canopy in the lodge’s unique sky gondola or hiking out with registered guides Jose and David to watch toucans feed. Enjoy a tasting session of local chocolate organised by the lodge’s attentive staff.
The cloud forests of Ecuador are not awash with colour. Instead, they pick a single one and run with it.
Green isn’t just green here, it’s gob smacking, gut punching, grandstanding green, a green that explodes with greedy, reckless abandon.
A green that brings lesser sights to life, like the web of a spider or the jagged skeleton of a leaf that catches raindrops between yesterday’s green.
Rain, too. There’s plenty of rain here, or at least that’s the first impression. It’s also the second, since rain does fall most of the time. The forest’s secret, however, lies in the fact that rain manages to fall from the leaves without falling from the sky. Clouds condense on the greenery itself, gathering, trembling, amassing and then rolling with a drip and a flourish from the tip of a leaf to the next.
Hanging at a precarious height, 196 feet above a rainforest gorge, is a 2-person pedal bike that traverses a 656-foot cable. If you have vertigo, fear of heights, all that jazz, then you should probably stop reading now. Or, keep reading, and face your fears, because this is a bike ride of a lifetime.
It's called the Sky Bike and it's a part of Ecuador's Mashpi Lodge, which is located in a protected Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve that covers an impressive 3,212 acres. It's three hours northwest of Quito. The lodge is a state-of-the art, contemporary retreat, that provides all the latest amenities for an incredible stay.
The National Geographic Society today announced its newest foray in world-class travel experiences: National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a collection of boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.
The Unique Lodges collection ranges from thatched bungalows nestled in the coastal jungles of Costa Rica’s pristine Osa Peninsula to luxury tented suites overlooking Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the Australian Outback. Many have devised their own renewable energy solutions; all prioritize locally sourced food and provide economic and social benefits to the local community. Each lodge offers a special “National Geographic Exclusive” experience to guests who book their stay through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. This is a complimentary opportunity to delve further into the local culture or environment, such as a private sunset wildlife cruise at British Columbia’s Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge or a special research outing with the on-site scientist at The Brando in French Polynesia.
Mashpi Lodge Rainforest, EcuadorTucked within the 3,200-acre orchid-filled Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, this 22-room glass-walled resort offers a pampered perch from which to view the region’s howler monkeys, ocelots, and abundant avian species.
Or there’s Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador, spearheaded by Roque Sevilla, a former Quito mayor and orchid collector who has helped rescue the Cloud Forest from logging (Sevilla bought the 3,200 acres in 2001 before leaving politics for the travel industry). The lodge has turned locals, who used to work for the logging companies, into naturalist guides.
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
This stunning new eco-lodge, all floor-to-ceiling glass and slate floors, stands in splendid solitude in a private 3,000-acre reserve, amid one of the world's most biodiverse cloud forests. It's phenomenal - alive with the sounds of frogs and howler monkeys, and iridescent with the colours of hummingbirds. Return from a jungle trek or an expedition on the aerial gondola that cuts through the tree canopy, and you're greeted with warm smiles, cold towels and the freshest, pinkest lemonade. Steel stairs lead up to your bedroom, where dirty clothes dropped in the basket at your door have already been returned, cleaned and pressed perfectly. Grab one of the three suites with a deep standalone bath by the big windows - the jungle pushes right up against the glass and stares back at you as you wallow. There are books on local wildlife, a terrace to watch it all from and, downstairs, a huge hot-tub to hang out in. The spa menu is stuffed full of organic produce from the garden and forest, as is the menu in the kitchen. At breakfast, try tigrillo - eggs scrambled with green plantain and cheese. This place has reset the Ecuadorian boundaries.
Rustic: Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
A secluded retreat surrounded by 3,000 acres of cucharillo and copal trees, Mashpi Lodge (owned by Grupo Futuro, also behind 2012 It List winner Casa Gangotena, in Quito) is turning Ecuador’s mainland into a serious ecotourism player. It’s a 2 1/2-hour car trip on a winding road from the capital to the ultramodern glass-and-steel hotel, where the endangered Choco rain forest takes center stage (indeed, Mashpi’s owner refused to cut down a single tree to build the property). Rooms are light-filled but minimally decorated (seike wood furnishings; slate floors) and include floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a wild habitat that beckons you to head out and explore. We took an aerial gondola ride to the hotel’s eight-story observation tower, followed by a guided hike to a secret waterfall—the perfect spot for a dip.
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
A 'cocoon in the clouds' is how the naturalist founder of this lodge has described it. Set in isolated splendour in a private, 3,000-acre reserve in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, it is surrounded by howler monkeys, pumas and every shade of hummingbird. There are aerial gondolas and bicycles to ride through the forest canopy, waterfalls and rock pools to swim in, and night walks into the verdant forest. Nature is visible from every window - trees bang against the glass, colourful birds flash in front of you. The interior design does not try to compete with such splendour: the 22 bedrooms are elegant but simple, with slate floors and sleek lines; luxury comes with the service: cold towels and homemade pink lemonade after jungle walks; the laundry service that picks up your dirty clothes and leaves them cleaned and pressed for the morning. It is also in the fruits of the jungle you find on your table: manioc-crusted red tuna; a salad of palm hearts; ishpingo sauce with your steak; soursop mousse latticed with dark chocolate.