The adventure starts at 08:00 am from one of the main hotels in Quito.
Mashpi lodge is located three hours away, 110 Km (70Milles) from Quito in the western slope of the occidental flank of the Andes. The rapid change in altitude (from 2800 msnm to 1000 msnm) allows you to discover the wanders of the Andean landscape. The road crosses the valley of Pomasqui dominated by Andean dry forest, and then to the western flank of the Andes through the Cloud Forest and the road ends in Mashpi at the beginning of the tropical rainforest. The monument of “La Mitad del Mundo” (“Middle of the World”), mark the place where you cross the equatorial line and the obelisk commemorates the visit of the geodesic mission in the XVIII century as part of their studies measuring one arc of the meridian and their efforts to proof the elliptical shape of the earth. Half way to Mashpi you stop to visit Tulipe archeological museum, a set of ruins that belonged to the Yumbo culture, one of the last cultures that settled in Quito before the arrival of the Incas and the Spanish.
Depart from Quito
After been comfortably settled in your room you will be greeted by one of our naturalists who will give you an introductory talk about the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities during your stay and some helpful tips about what to wear and what to bring to the excursions. This talk will take place before lunch at our library and lasts around 30 minutes.
Afternoon Excursion, Napa Trail.
At 15:30 we will gather together at the lobby in order to head to the Napa Trail.
This trail starts at the side of the road, across areas where the forest is regenerating and large patches of pristine forest. For this reason this trail is ideal to explain the ecological succession processes and the importance of forest conservation for the Chocó region. Also this is a trail of great scenic beauty and toward the end of the trail you will find one of the unique attractions, a forest of “iron palm” (Iriartea deltoidea), which wood is used in different ways, mostly in house construction. This is also a very good trail for bird watching. It is a moderate difficulty trail and the excursion takes 2 hours.
Every evening for all our guests interested in knowing more deeply the cloud forest ecology, we have prepare a series of different lectures like the “Secret Wildlife of Mashpi, the trap camera project”, the “Chocó, a biological hotspot” about the formation and diversity of the Chocó, or about our scientific research projects. The lectures will be given by one of our naturalist or our resident biologist at 19:30.
Early Bird Watching
For the early “birds”, the forest has its rewards, as the first rays of sun filtered the forest; the atmosphere is filled with the sound of birds in search for food. A good place for bird watching is the hotel terrace from where you can appreciate not only the beauty of the cloud forest essence but also many species of birds that come to feed on insects or fruit in the trees around. Always accompanied by a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, our guides will share with you their skill in handling the telescope to show closely our incredible birds richness. This activity begins at 6:30 and last an hour, after this you enjoy breakfast.
Day 2 Mourning
Sky Bike and Observation Tower
We will depart at 08:30 to the Sky Bike and Observation tower, which are located close to the hotel, 15 minute walking. The Sky Bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 feet) apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it's an activity that provides guests with another chance to observe the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens.
The minimum height for this activity is 1 meter tall (3.2 feet) and children have to be accompanied by an adult.
Towering above the treetops, Mashpi´s observation tower allows our guests appreciate all the protected forest in all its glory and the Lodge embedded within. With a height of 30 meters (100 feet) this is the ideal place for nature lovers and not only allows you to appreciate the complex structure of the forest but also the incredible species richness that inhabit the treetops and constitute 70% of the diversity throughout the forest. To reach the top, visitors have to climb up 162 steps, but the rewards are worth it.
The bike ride takes no more than 10 minutes and although it may be a round trip or if you want you can go just one way and walk back to the lodge walking one of our trails. The Oxibelis trail takes you to a small waterfall near the road and then back to the lodge. Another alternative is take the limones trail to the San Vicente´s waterfall; it will take between 45 minutes to an hour to reach this beautiful waterfall. This is a difficult hike and demands to be in good physical condition as the trail is steep. This combination of the bike, the observation tower and the hike, takes between 2-4 hours depending on the trail you choose to walk.
We will be waiting for you with a refreshing natural juice and fresh towels so you can get ready for lunch with a delicious variety of dishes that will delight your palate.
Day 2 Afternoon
Howler Monkeys trail and Life Centre
The best way to get to Life Centre is through the forest, so you take the Howler Monkeys trail (Aulladores). This trail goes across one the original forest were many of the centenarian trees survive login, being the “copal” tree (Dacryodes cupularis) the most emblematic. Along this trail our local guide will listen to any sound in the forest, so he can show you maybe a colorful bird or the very elusive howler monkeys (Alouatta palliate), while our naturalist guide will take any opportunity to talk about the ecology and conservation of the forest. Both will share their extensive knowledge of forest plants and their uses.
Once in the Life Center you can enjoy from the comfort of the expansive wooden deck all sorts of wildlife, from birds to rodents and other mammals – the most of them visiting our fruit feeders in front of the deck. The center is conceived as a place for learning and discovery, but also where guests can disconnect, where they can contemplate the views. Inside the Center our guest will learn more about the butterflies that inhabit the region, being shown the process of these creatures from eggs to larva or caterpillar to chrysalis or pupa to winged wonder. Other points of learning include various species of host plants use by the butterflies to lay there egg and feed the larvae, like passion flowers, birds of paradise, milk weeds and many others in beautiful gardens all around the structure. Close to the Centre, we have established an area for growing useful plants and beyond, many varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, hot chilli pepper, coffee and wild raspberries.
Evening Excursion, Night hike (18:45)
The forest is transformed completely during the night, the sounds and smells are intensified and other senses are awakened. On this “night safari”, unlike others, our guests find the beauty in the small details, the croaking of frogs or the hum of insects. And if you turn off your flashlight you can observe the sparkling of fireflies in the woods, or listening to the flutter of bats and if you look carefully to the ground the faint glow of bioluminescent fungi (foxfire or fairy fire) surrounding you. When you turn on the lights again you can see the reflection of hundreds of tiny eyes of insects all around. As we continue our way you can hear the call of owls and night birds or the rustling of the branches above you when the kinkajous (Potos flavus), an arboreal mammal relative to the raccoons, open their road through the treetops, searching for ripe fruits. No doubt, this is an overwhelming experience. The excursion begins at 19:00 and takes about 45 min to an hour, and you will be back on time to enjoy a delicious dinner.
Early Bird Watching along the road
This activity starts at 6:30 in the hotel lobby and take advantage of the fact that many species of birds comes near the hotel to feed on the moths that were attracted to the light last night. Then for the next part of the excursion and after a cup of coffee, you walk down the road looking for the fascinating mixed-species feeding flocks, this mixed hunting party, is a flock of usually insectivorous birds of different species, that join each other and move together while foraging. In a single flock you may see over 20 different species of birds, making this encounters the jackpot to the bird watchers. This activity take 1 hour an you be back for breakfast.
Hike to the Copal Waterfall
At 08:30 we will leave the hotel heading to the Copal waterfall. This hike takes 2 hours and the land-scape is beautiful, moss-cover trees, bromelias and orchids everywhere. This trail ends in a spectacular waterfall over 50mt high.
You will be back to the hotel by noon, you can refresh yourself and check out. We will be waiting for you at our restaurant where you can enjoy your last meal at Mashpi, after lunch you will head back to Quito at 13:30.