Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

Winding bumpy roads snake their way through Ecuador’s chain of  Andean volcanoes. Three hours in the van watching city turn into farmland and eventually something more remote we arrived at our destination. Greeted by a large Jurassic Park style wooden gate, the doors opened and we began our descent into one of the most wild places I’ve been. Jungle in every shade of green imaginable stretched out for miles while the heavy mist sunk throughout crags of the surrounding valleys. This was the singular environment of Ecuador’s cloud forest and home to Mashpi Lodge.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Upon arrival at the lodge we were immediately greeted with a cool towel and a refreshing iced lemongrass tea and directed to the lounge were we were introduced to our guides and Mashpi’s resident biologist who told us the story of the land and the reserve. The high elevation rain forest, also known as the cloud forest or Choco, is a unique ecosystem regarded as a hotspot of biodiversity. Roque Sevilla, a former mayor of Quito, started the Mashpi reserve in order to conserve the cloud forest.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest

Mashpi is every bit an eco-minded nature lodge but don’t expect to find an open air hut with a thatched roof; this modern lodge is sleek but comfortably luxurious and wouldn’t be out of place in California or Copenhagen. My room was comfortably minimalist with a sumptuous bed perfect for relaxing from my day’s adventures and a plate of exotic, new-to-me Ecuadorian fruit.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Oh, and then there’s this.

Now this is a view worth waking up for. @mashpilodge @ecuadortravel #allyouneedisecuador #feelagaininecuador

A video posted by Brianna Simmons (@casualtravelist) on

 

Anywhere else the lodge would be the star, but at Mashpi it was clear that nature was the real star here. Rather than compete with the cloud forest the clean lines of steel and glass compliment and highlight the living,breathing world outside. Small nooks throughout the lodge offer up comfortable places to relax  and a rooftop observation deck offers up a treetop view of the surrounding valleys.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Guests leisurely congregate at the lodge’s restaurant three times a day for meals. During my stay I met visitors from all over the world who have come to experience the unique wilderness of Ecuador’s cloud forest. Well-heeled Quitenos getting away from the hustle of the capital, an adventurous group of older Brits finishing up a month-long tour of Ecuador, a pair of newlyweds from Australia and an intrepid young family from California shared in our adventures at Mashpi. While it was hard to take my eyes away from the scenery outside, I was able to do so long enough to enjoy the food at Mashpi. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style with a changing set menu at dinner each night. Mashpi does a good job of balancing Ecuadorian specialties (llama in spicy Andean bean sauce anyone?) with more traditional North American and European fare for less adventurous eaters.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

 

 

While the lodge is alluring in its own right the real reason I came to Mashpi was to experience the wild beauty of the cloud forest. Days start early at Mashpi with an early morning bird watch from the rooftop observation deck. Guides greeted warmly with a cup of coffee, then armed with binoculars and scopes scanned the treetops as the jungle woke up. Birds of every conceivable color graced tree branches and glided over the valley. Emerald toucanets snacked on tropical fruit, multiple species of trogon swooped overhead and a broad-billed mot-mot curiously perched on the observation deck to check us out. We even got a glimpse of the rare moss-backed tanager, endemic to Ecuador’s cloud forest and the symbol of Mashpi. With nearly 500 species of birds recorded on the reserve its no surprise Mashpi is a paradise for birders.

Over 500 species of birds call Mashpi Lodge home-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Over 500 species of birds call Mashpi Lodge home-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.comOver 500 species of birds call Mashpi Lodge home-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.comA 30 minute hike uphill from the lodge brought me to the hummingbird station, where over 32 species of hummingbird call Mashpi home. Adults and children alike sat transfixed as hundreds of jewel-toned birds flitted between trees and feeders and buzzed around our heads. These little hummers were as unfazed by our presence as we were mesmerized by theirs.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com Over 500 species of birds call Mashpi Lodge home-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Over 500 species of birds call Mashpi Lodge home-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Birds aren’t the only creatures that call Mashpi home. A wide variety of mammals, while a bit more reclusive, can also be found on the reserve. Several research cameras set around the property have recorded herds of peccary, monkeys, and several species of wild cat including ocelot, margay and puma. On a visit to the Life Center I discovered that Mashpi is home to over 200 species of butterfly. It is here that Mashpi biologists are studying the owl eye butterfly, aother species endemic to the cloud forest. The owl eye butterfly is a master of disguise, not only does one half of its wing resemble an owl’s eye (for which it is obviously named) but each wing tip looks distinctly like the head of a snake. Well done nature, well done.
Learn about the fascinating owl eye butterfly at Mashpi Lodge's Buutterfly Conservation Center-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Have you ever wanted to channel your inner ET while gliding through a rain forest canopy? I’ve got two words for you guys-

Sky Bike.

Explore the treetops in a one-of-a-kind sky bike at Mashpi-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

More exciting than an aerial tram and more control than a zip line, this two person pedal powered bike allows you to explore the forest from a bird’s eye view. The sky bike is 200 feet high and is largely silent so as not to startle any wildlife. You can can go fast for a bit more adrenaline or take your time to enjoy the unique cloud forest canopy.

Explore the treetops in a one-of-a-kind sky bike at Mashpi-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

 

Exploring Mashpi by land is nearly as exciting as seeing it from the treetops. Throughout my stay I took a number of guided hikes throughout the reserve, our guides Jose and Manolo had were extremely knowledgeable and had an obvious love for the land. From spotting impossibly tiny frogs to answering all of  my questions about the plants and animals we encountered, there was nothing these two guys didn’t know. My favorite hike took us down through the dense secondary rain forest to a pristine waterfall that we had all to ourselves. I couldn’t resist taking a dip because well, I didn’t come all the way to Ecuador to not swim in a waterfall.

Explore the Ecuadorian cloud forest with knowledgable guides at Mashpi-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com Explore the Ecuadorian cloud forest with knowledgable guides at Mashpi-Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Swim beneath pristine waterfalls in Ecuador's cloud forest:Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

 

On our way back up to the lodge we stopped at a small viewing platform for a rest. I got lost in my thoughts while looking over out over valley below and turned back towards the trail to find a surprise- Manolo had quietly set out a jungle picnic for us with a spread of nibbles including Ecuadorian cheeses, tasty little sandwiches and a bottle or Argentinian Malbec. Watching the clouds sinuously flow over the rain forest with wine glass in hand-it was this moment that was the perfect culmination of my time at Mashpi.

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

Mashpi Lodge offers five-star luxury in one of the most unique and remote ecosystems in Ecuador. This is the nature lodge for those who like to explore by day and relax in a luxurious retreat by night.

 

Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador's Cloud Forest www.casualtravelist.com

I was graciously hosted by Mashpi Lodge but as always, all opinions remain my own.

37 Comments on “Mashpi Lodge-Luxury in Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

    • Rob, it really was amazing! I think it would be great with kids as long as yours are good with hiking.

    • Seriously, it is an experience like no other. I hope you make it out there!

  1. DEBERIAN PONER UN MAPA DEL ECUADOR SEÑALANDO EL SITIO DE ESTE RESORT, PARA TENER UNA IDEA DE LA MEJOR MANERA Y MAS ECONOMICA VIA PARA LLEGAR.´
    SALUDOS ENRIQUE ROMERO

    • Enrique, take a look at the town of Mindo for a similar environment at more affordable price. It is a spectacular birding area!

  2. Me gustaria saber el precio por noche para dos personas en habitacion matrimonial.
    Tambien saber exactamente su ubicacion.
    Saludos.

  3. Oh, Brianna, your post made me want to go to Ecuador badly! What a gorgeous landscape, what a unique atmosphere! And then, after visiting that Jurassic Park kind of forest, to be able to rest in a luxurious resort like Mashpi Lodge. Quite a dream! But it seems to me you were sweating constantly. Is that right? It’s probably very humid there, no wonder.
    Anda recently posted…Riga’s Architecture – a Testament to its Fascinating HistoryMy Profile

  4. I have ALWAYS wanted to stay here, but it was a little out of my budget last time I was in Ecuador. Will definitely refer back to this next time I am planning.

  5. Wooow!! I’ve never heard of this place but it looks beyond amazing. I love full glass walls, and that observation balcony above the jungle… insane! You must have had such a great time!

  6. That sounds like an incredible experience. Your pictures really capture the beauty of this place. I would love to visit and try the llama in spicy bean sauce.

  7. You had me at Sky Bike! Seriously, I have a family member who is a very enthusiastic birder, and this Sky Bike is reason enough to send him to Mashpi! He would just about die!

  8. Gliding through the forests with that sky-bike looks like a great experience in the deep forests and those birds…The Mashpi-Lodge eco-lodge must have been an amazing place to stay. I think I want to go to Ecuador!

  9. This sounds like a fabulous adventure. I’d never heard of Mashpi Lodge, but I love the minimalist decor that lets the forest around it shine. This is totally my kind of place.

  10. Gorgeous resort! Love all the windows. I just went hiking today to a friends monkey reserve and saw those owl eye butterflies AND their cocoons. It was epic! We have those small toucans in Panama, too. This looks like a fabulous trip!

  11. wow this hotel is insane! I’d love to stay there for a while! what a find. thanks for sharing

  12. Luxury and remote, this is definitely something to look forward to. Perfect place to just relax and unwind

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge