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Mashpi Lodge is located in the Mashpi Reserve, to the north west of Quito in Ecuador. The 1,300 hectare reserve sits in a cloud forest 930 metres above sea level, and is home to numerous species of fauna and flora.
Mashpi Lodge Location
Mashpi Lodge is situated approximately 60 miles northwest of Quito. As the road snakes around the Andes and is partly unmade, the journey from Quito to Mashpi takes around 3.5-4 hours. Part of Mashpi Lodge’s appeal is its inaccessibility, allowing you to explore a beautiful untouched region.
How to get to Mashpi Lodge
To get from Quito to Mashpi Lodge, the road goes westward, descending into the cloud forest on a bumpy unmade road on the approach to Mashpi. The journey to Mashpi is a unique experience, as the winding road takes you through different microclimates, past rural communities and views of mountains and volcanoes. The final leg of the journey climbs up a gravel road around a mountain, where you will be surrounded by the cloud forest’s mist.
Mashpi Lodge Flora and Fauna
The Mashpi Reserve hosts an astounding variety of plants, animals and birds, many of which are unique to this incredibly biodiverse area.Ferns, bromeliads and orchids are found in abundance here, including many rare and endangered species. Monkeys swing from the trees and 35 of the 400 bird species calling Mashpi home are endemic to the area. In addition to the larger creatures found here, there are also 112 species of reptiles and amphibians including snakes and frogs.
The easiest mammals to spot around the Mashpi Reserve are squirrels, armadillos, agoutis and tayras. Agoutis are nocturnal rodents known as ‘jungle gardeners’ because of their seed-dispersing habits. Like squirrels, they can be found sitting on their hind legs, clutching fruits and nuts. Similar to weasels, tayras can be found around the plantains in the Mashpi Reserve, or leaping from tree to tree in search of food. Coatis have long ringed tails and long snouts, making up part of the racoon family. If you’re lucky you might spot a howler monkey, known as the world’s largest mammals as they can be heard for up to three miles away, even in the dense cloud forest.
Birdwatching is a popular activity at Mashpi Lodge. Some of the species include the Moss-Backed Tanager, the Tropical Kingbird, the Broad-billed Motmot, the Cock of the Rock and the Velvet Purple Coronet, a type of hummingbird which stands out for its deep purple feathers.
Copal trees are amongst the tallest in the reserve, reaching a height of 30 metres. The bromelias found around Mashpi are unique as they host entire miniature ecosystems in their leaves, including tree frogs and small insects which permanently live in the leaves. Commonly known as the ‘Elephant Ear’ plant, the colocasia is sometimes used by farmers when caught out in tropical storms. Other plant species include the cecropia and the heliconia, whose leaves resemble those of a banana tree.
Mashpi Lodge Accommodation
The lodge's luxury accommodation itself boasts a modern aesthetic which incorporates the surrounding tropical cloud forest. Large floor to ceiling windows make one feel like you are part of the jungle, allowing you to enjoy fine dining with great views, and to rise in the morning looking out into the trees. There is a beautifully designed two-story dining room, surrounded by forest and serving gourmet cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a bar serving cocktails and fine wines. There is a wellness area with a yoga deck and open-air hot tub, as well as a spa offering treatments and massages.
In 2017, Mashpi Lodge featured on BBC’s ‘Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby’.
Mashpi Lodge Activities
Part of Mashpi Lodge's unique offering is the myriad ways in which you can experience all this forest life. There is the observation tower which stands tall above the trees, allowing you to survey the forest below, as well as the sky bike, where you can pedal along a cable suspended above the forest. For a more traditional aerial experience you can enjoy the Dragonfly, an open-top cable car. While staying at the luxurious lodge you will also be taken on guided nature walks and enjoy lectures on the fauna and flora found within the reserve. There are several nature trails with names including the luminous trail, the strangler fig trail, the jungle swing trail and the capuchin monkey trail. You can also visit the Copal, Magnolia and Healing waterfalls.
Mashpi Lodge Research
While tourism is a significant interest, scientific research and conservation are important aspects of the project too. There is a resident biologist, and research work is regularly carried out with local and international universities and NGO’s. The research done to date has already provided valuable insight into the Equatorial Chocó and new research projects are constantly underway.
Llama Travel offers a variety of Galapagos & Ecuador holidays which offer the opportunity to visit Mashpi Lodge. You can take a 2-day excursion from Quito, or stay longer if you prefer.