Mashpi LodgeMashpi Reserve / Ecuador
Appearing like a luxury hotel that’s sprung up in the middle of the cloud forest, staying at the Mashpi Lodge is the vacation of a lifetime for any adventurer. Surrounded in every direction by the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest, a love for nature runs at the heart of everything here, from the contemporary-styled resort’s two-dozen forest trails to its life centre and butterfly farm – where researchers take on essential work towards the conservation of the area.
What to love
- Mashpi works closely with local communities to provide job opportunities, while much of its produce is sourced from nearby sellers.
- A research station on-site is responsible for the work done to study and raise awareness on rainforest protection.
- Mashpi has some incredibly innovative ways to observe the forest, including sky bikes, an eight-storey observation tower, and The Dragonfly – an open-air cable car that crosses the jungle.
What to know
- Those looking to unwind after a big day of exploring will want to visit the spa and wellness centre, complete with two massage rooms, a yoga deck and open-air hot tub.
- Charming communal spaces are in abundance here, from the stunning open-air panoramic terrace to the hummingbird garden.
- The gloriously high-ceilinged restaurant plates up tasty Ecuadorian dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
Placed deep in the heart of Ecuador’s Choco rainforest, Mashpi Lodge has a modern architectural design that utilises steel, stone and glass to help it blend in with its surroundings. Likewise, its contemporary rooms have a smooth, natural style and huge floor-to-ceiling windows that mean the first thing you see in the morning after drawing the blinds is a rush of vibrant greenery.
In fact, all through this astonishing resort, the barrier between nature is constantly broken down. Expert guides are always on-hand to take you along one of the two-dozen trails that journey past the region’s spectacular fauna and splashing waterfalls, while those seeking a different perspective can take a sky bike across the forest canopy. Then there’s The Dragonfly, an open-air cable car that travels the forest, as well as the eight-storey observation tower, the hummingbird garden, and the life centre and butterfly farm.
The resort itself is also a research station that studies this fascinating bio-region (it’s known that 400 species of birds, trees and frogs found nowhere else in the world live here) to better understand how to protect and conserve the wildlife in this region. Guests are always welcome at the laboratory to learn more about historical and ongoing research, while there’s even a special area designed for children. The lodge also prioritises sustainability of its own: it runs on hydro-electricity, sources its water from local rivers and treats it at its on-site plant, and energy efficient LED bulbs make up 75 per cent of its lighting.
Once you’re done exploring for the day, the lodge is the place to be. Its stylish restaurant provides an exceptional Ecuadorian-influenced menu, while the cocktails on offer are equally sumptuous. Elsewhere, the resort’s spa has a range of indulgent treatments to try, while a wellness centre is fitted with a yoga deck and open-air hot tub. Or perhaps the impressive viewing platform is more your speed, where you can while away an hour watching over the forest and looking out for rare birds.
When To Travel
Mashpi is well worth a visit throughout the year. The cloud forest, by it's very nature, generally has some rain or drizzle but the weather is warm and this is also plenty of sun. The best months to travel are from June to September.
The closest International airport to Mashpi Reserve is Quito. Most flight connections will require an overnight stay is Quito. It is then a 3.5 to 4.5 hour transfer to Mashpi Lodge.
The cloud forest and rain forest of Mashpi Reserve offer more than just a view from your lodge window. They offer connection for both young and old. Hike through pristine wilderness and your children’s eyes will be awakened by the staggering beauty of nature. The research laboratory next to Mashpi Lodge invites children to spend time at their Kids Corner learning about all they have seen on their adventures with the help of one of the resident experts.
Young explorers can enjoy swimming under waterfalls, re-enact Tarzan on the jungle swing trail or travel through the forest canopy on the Dragonfly or Sky Bike experiences. The night walks are a highlight. Just a few days at Mashpi Lodge transforms the way we see the world and provides a welcome natural escape from everyday life for grown ups and kids alike.
The area is free of Malaria and has relatively few mosquitos but general precautions such as repellant is still advised for other creatures, especially when hiking.
The accommodation is flexible for families with Wayra rooms being able to connect with one another. A Wawa room is also ideal for single travellers, perhaps accompanying grandparents.