At the end of last year we were lucky enough to be invited to explore Ecuador with Metropoliatan Touring South America, starting in their vibrant capital Quito and ending in a three-day cruise in the incredible Galapagos Islands it really was a trip of a lifetime. In the middle was a trip to Mashpi Ecuador Lodge a beautifully designed luxury eco-lodge and a gateway to the biodiversity in the heart of the Andean cloud forest. Annoyingly due to ill health, I was unable to make this part of the trip but it was a place I was so intrigued about I wanted to find out more. Especially after hearing all the stories from my fellow bloggers! After sending my interview questions to Klaus-Peter Fielsch (Head of Product at Metropolitan Touring) what I received back made me even more envious!
What makes Mashpi Lodge such a unique place to visit?
When we welcome guests to Mashpi Lodge, we hope to curate a truly unique experience. In the heart of the Ecuadorian Chocó cloud and rainforest, it is an unusual blend where pristine nature is at your fingertips, while inside the lodge we pamper guests with all of the luxury trimmings of a five-star property. The sophisticated and striking design offers views of the forested mountains on one side and the forest right up close on the other through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
It is all about creating a window to the forest – the lodge is dramatic but quiet, so as not to compete with Mother Nature. It is the proud vision of our entrepreneurial former mayor of Quito, Roque Sevilla, a conservation expert who bought 1,000 hectares of a former logging camp with the intention of creating an eco-lodge where visitors could share his passion for the fascinating environment and ecosystems of the rain forest.
What sort of things can you expect to see if you stay at Mashpi Lodge?
Mashpi is a springboard to explore one of our planet’s most bio-diverse regions: the Equatorial Chocó is renowned as a hotspot. As guides, every day we feel privileged to see, hear, smell and touch nature while exploring the rich flora and fauna of the reserve. We use our experience and knowledge of the land to scientifically map the array of ecology that exists in the magical forests to share with guests.
It is home to hundreds of amphibian and reptilian species, birds and animals such as rare spider monkeys, peccaries and even puma, as well as a profusion of plant species from ferns and bromeliads plus many newly-discovered orchids. Ecuador has even been named the country with the most orchids in world – with over 4300 species discovered!
Do you offer tours at Mashpi Lodge?
Every day we organise exciting excursions, one in the morning, another in the afternoon. Rise at dawn for the best chance to spot an array of birds – the area is dream for bird-watchers, which houses over 400 species (36 endemics). Discover the sensational botany on a nature trail where we take you through the forest to observe nearby tree trunks festooned with the flowers. For the adventurous types, we will head to the unique aerial bicycle for a bird’s-eye view of the forest and pedal our way along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200m (655 feet) above the ground. At the Life Centre, we get up-close with super-size owl-eyed butterflies, moths, an assortment of insects and beautiful plants and flowers they utilise for food and shelter.
We can even walk down the steep hillsides to swim in the waterfalls learning about the fungi, berries, seeds that line our path paved in recycled beer cases. And then it’s on to the real showstopper, the hummingbirds – dazzling, darting fairylike creatures of the forest. Feeding on flower nectar, which you can hold out for them in feeders, they hover over you with their striking colourful wings beating 50 times every second.
Any other reasons for guests to visit?
In the darkness, Mashpi glows and morphs into a magnet for thousands of insects that cling to the windows for live evening entertainment over a delicious dinner. The melodic music of the forest can also be enjoyed over tea and biscuits on the roof after dawn, with tuneful trills and leaps from the colourful feathers that fly above. By visiting Mashpi Lodge guests have the opportunity to help conserve, understand and truly appreciate the ecology of one the most pristine biodiversity hotspots in the world.