Discover the Biodiversity of Ecuador
Located in a 2,600-acre private reserve around 110 kilometers from Quito, Mashpi Lodge offers an eco-friendly vacation in the spectacular bio-diverse Tumbez-Choco-Darien region of Ecuador. The lodge and reserve offer a host of activities to make the most of the incredible natural treasures found within its borders, including a trip on the canopy gondola, trekking on the nature trails, relaxing and learning at the life center, night walks, birding, photography, botany, and more – truly a nature lover’s paradise.
A ride on the canopy gondola is sure to be a highlight of a visit to Mashpi Lodge. There are two gondolas on the system, each of which is roofed and has rotating seats and safety rails, with the capacity to carry six guests plus a guide. The cable system stretches over two kilometers with boarding stations on each end and a tower in the middle. On the first part of the journey, the gondola travels above the upper canopy of the trees, while on the return journey it travels through the forest. The gondola moves at a very slow pace allowing visitors time to observe the forest and its inhabitants at leisure. Depending on how many passengers are waiting to use the gondola, the guide is able to bring it to a standstill if the group spots something in the forest they would like to spend more time viewing. Guests also have the option to combine a gondola ride with a hike.
The two main hiking trails are Cucharillo and Howler Monkey, which both link up with the canopy gondola system’s Cotinga Tower. A local guide will accompany hikers to point out various plants, insects and animals along the way, providing interesting and little-known facts about the biodiversity of this region of Ecuador. Both trails have been carefully laid out with firm paths and steps made of recycled plastic crates to make walking easier, but hikers should be aware that the terrain is mountainous and at times rather steep. The effort will be worth it though, as visitors will see unusual mushrooms, fungi, orchids, lichens, mosses, huge ferns, coiling vines, waterfalls and crystal clear rivers.
The Life Center, located close to the lodge, offers guests the opportunity to learn more about the birds, butterflies and other creatures of the region, while enjoying some freshly brewed, locally grown coffee or fresh juice. There is also an area where medicinal plants are grown, as well as some food crops and fruit, some of which is used in the cuisine at the lodge.
The observation tower at the lodge offers visitors an awe-inspiring view of the surrounding area, and birding enthusiasts will be thrilled to spot woodpeckers, toucans, barbets, parrots and tanagers, as well as a number of different raptor species. Night walks offer a look at the world of nocturnal forest-dwellers, while the sky bike is another unusual way to explore the forest canopy up close.
Mashpi Lodge was named Best Resort in the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2012 – and certainly has plenty to offer the eco-conscious tourist visiting Ecuador.